Do You Think I’m Sexy?

By Dave Waddell

No need to answer that – I’m in Market Research. In fact, putting capitals on that is about as sexy as I can make it. But if you are in any sort of business that seeks to understand its market, its customers or the world it inhabits, at some point you’ll be pleased you took my number.
We do get asked from time to time if we can ‘sex up’ our questionnaires to make them more attractive to do, and so we have developed a few tools that mean you can drag, drop, slide and swipe all manner of content to your heart’s desire. But these days, many people use smartphones and tablets as an accessory, in order that they get real-time interaction with their work, their social circle and the wider world. With that sort of device, moving your fingers over the screen can get you into trouble. One minute you are sliding an image of a car onto a word that describes it, the next moment you have downloaded some godforsaken racket by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and made a date with a plumber who sends you naked selfies.
So why should you care if people find completing a survey to be pleasurable, and how can you help to make it so? Well, if people are bored, distracted or fatigued, you get bad data out if them. Here are some hints and tips that will – hopefully – help avoid that.
Less is More - Imagine you were still answering questions about paper napkins 25 minutes after you started. My guess is you’d think you’d said all you could on the subject 10 minutes earlier. Short and sweet gets better data. Differentiate between what you need to know and what is nice to know. Try not to cover too much. Two short questionnaires often yield better data than one long one.
Make it Logical – Try not to jump from subject to subject. That’s confusing. Try and take respondents on a journey that they will recognise. So, if you are tracking airport shopping, start with the trip to the airport, take them through check-in and security, then ask about what they did leading up to boarding. Or if you have a questionnaire about coffee, start off with questions about general shopping and social habits, and get to coffee when you know where it fits in to their lifestyle.
Don’t Repeat. I Said Don’t Repeat! – It is tempting to squeeze every piece of information out of a respondent. So, if they eat at 7 different restaurant chains, it might seem reasonable to ask about every one of them. If you only have one or two questions, you may just about get away with asking them 7 times, but any more than that, and things start to get tedious. Tedium leads to a lack of focus, and that in turn means your data could be flawed.

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