Survey Design

How to Pick the Right Respondents for Your Survey

In our blog on Choosing the right sample size”, we provided a formula to ensure your target population is represented accurately. Knowing that number early is important for determining your mail quantity and bidding out your project to vendors. However, it is only half the equation in survey sampling. The other half is making sure you pick the right people.  

So how do you choose the participants? 

1. Define Your Target Population

Before you can choose survey participants, you need to define the common binding characteristics or traits of the overall population. For example, “government employees” or “existing customers.” These are often combined with other characteristics: “government employees who use iPhones” or “existing customers who have utilized a particular service.” It is imperative to select the most appropriate target population to satisfy the objectives of the survey. 


2. Identify Your List Source

Some survey samples are easier to generate than others. For example, if you are surveying your existing customers, you likely already have everything you need in your company database. But if your target is “Latina women 25-40 who shop online,” you may have some work to do. In this case, you may want to look for available public data or purchase a list from a sample provider. Once you determine the list you need, then you become better positioned to choose a sampling method and pick your respondents. 


3. Choose a Sampling Method

There are many scientific ways to select a sample. They can be divided into two groups: probability and non-probability sampling. Probability sampling is any method that utilizes random selection like drawing straws or randomized computer selection. Everyone in a target group has an equal probability of being chosen. It is the preferred method of researchers because it accounts for bias and sampling error. 

But sometimes probability sampling is not feasible, either due to time constraints or list accessibility. In that case, non-probability sampling is used. People must still meet common binding criteria, but they are chosen in such places as a mall or a busy neighborhood. Such samples are often useful but don’t account as easily for bias and sampling error. 

Depending on the needs of your study, you will typically choose from one of the following common methods:

  1. Random SamplingThe purest form of probability sampling. The most basic example of this technique would be the lottery method.
  2. Stratified SamplingIdentifies a subset of the target population such as fathers, teachers, females, etc., and selects them at random.
  3. Systematic SamplingUses every Nth name in a target list, where N is a variable of your choosing.
  4. Convenience SamplingA non-probability method used when only a few members of the target population are available. 
  5. Quota SamplingUses subset criteria like stratified, but doesn’t randomize their selection. 
  6. Purposive Sampling A method that uses predefined criteria with a purpose in mind. For example, gauging the perceptions of Caucasian females between 30-40 years old on a new product but not randomize their selection.

Survey sampling is a critical part of data collection. Your survey provider can help you weigh these options for your survey to ensure you get the quality data you need. For more information on survey sampling or any aspect of mail survey management, contact us today!

By |2020-03-30T19:45:29+00:00January 13th, 2020|Survey Research Services|0 Comments

The Most Important Skillsets for In-House Survey Projects

If you are planning to effectively and efficiently handle a large-scale survey project in-house, knowing the questions you want to ask your target respondents is only the beginning. You also need to have access to a wide range of specialized skillsets. This is because practical considerations are certain to arise throughout the project that will require smart planning based on experience.

Here is a quick overview of a few of the most important skillsets involved in completing a large-scale survey project in-house.

Survey Design Skills

The core objective of your survey project is to obtain answers to questions that will help you analyze the thoughts, beliefs, actions, or experiences of your respondent population. To reach that objective, you must compose questions that will elicit useful responses.

During the survey design stage, it is important to consider more than the research objectives of your survey. There are other practical considerations relating to the efficiency of the project. Page count is an excellent example. If your survey is very complex or has so many questions that it must be printed in a large, multi-page booklet, you are jeopardizing the success of your project.

Large booklets create enormous challenges. They are difficult to design, print, and distribute. Additionally, they require extra effort to dismantle and collate so that they can be processed through your data extraction system. The greater the number of pages, the greater the complexity and room for error.

Graphic Design Skills

Another important skillset is graphic design. Your in-house designer must be proficient in Adobe InDesign, which is the most popular software for laying out surveys. Even though they may be a great graphic artist, their general skillset will only get them so far. They must also have experience in dealing with the many design choices that will impact your respondent’s experience while taking the survey as well as back-end quantitative data collection issues.

The layout of the survey must make it easy and intuitive for those completing the survey to fill in their responses. Even simple things like requesting a date of birth or phone number are a critical design issues. The choice to use a line to collect this information is problematic.

That’s because it is difficult for scanning software to read information formatted in a line with acceptable accuracy. The better design decision is to create a series of boxes that require respondents to place one letter or number in each box. This design option encourages respondents to write neatly. It also results in a more legible survey that is easier to review manually.

Printing Skills

The design of the survey affects the complexity of printing the survey. Remember that one of your goals is to automate data collection. Therefore, issues such as the number of pages, the layout of each page, and the placement of design elements are extremely important. For projects that require optical mark recognition (OMR), barcodes, or pre-slugging for accurate survey scanning and tracking, small printing errors have big consequences.

Logistics Skills

Managing the distribution, collection, and storage of your surveys presents an enormous logistical challenge. Once you’ve printed your surveys and support materials, you must then assemble the survey packets and distribute them to your respondents. You must also be prepared to receive the surveys when they are returned. The logistics skills involved include collating, packaging, labeling, addressing, bulk mailing, return-mail handling, warehousing, inventory tracking, and follow-up mailings.

Data Extraction Skills

Assuming that you have the necessary OMR and image-scanning equipment in place, you’ll also need to follow strict quality control measures to ensure the accuracy of your data. The data extraction process requires reliable data output formats, tables and rules, exceptions, electronic verification, manual verification, and image indexing to facilitate easy search and retrieval.

Do You Have Access to All of the Skillsets You Need?

As you prepare for your large-scale survey project, consider making a thorough assessment of your team’s skillsets. If you don’t have easy access to all of the skills you need to complete your project effectively and efficiently, it’s time to search for a partner that can help. Doing so will help your organization maximize its return on investment in time and money.

For more information on paper scanning servicesforms processing services or any aspect of survey mail management, contact us today!