Add Value to Your Market Research Project Results Via Web-Based
Surveys - Without Adding a Lot of Cost to Your Market Research
Market research provides business owners, managers and planners
with insights into the needs, preferences and buying patterns
of their customers and potential customers (i.e., their "target
market"). If you are a market researcher employed by
a business or working as an independent consultant, you most
likely begin your projects by conducting secondary market
research: that is, by gleaning reports and databases from
the U.S. Bureau of the Census, trade associations, press releases
and other companies' publicly available market research reports.
Often, however, low cost secondary research doesn't produce
the specific information companies need to make strategic,
informed decisions. In the past, many companies with small
market research budgets have avoided hiring market researchers
to conduct surveys because of the high cost involved. Hosted
web survey companies have emerged to make conducting surveys
very affordable, allowing even smaller companies on a budget
to benefit from the tailored research results of primary research.
Web based surveys allow you to survey large numbers of people
quite inexpensively. You can now quickly and affordably gather
strategic market information for your company or client.
Primary research results are tailored to your client's company's
particular market information needs. You can find specific
market information for your client by conducting primary research
via interviews, observations (e.g., counting traffic, observing
shoppers or actually shopping with competitors) and surveys.
Personal interviews are easy to conduct but provide more subjective
data than do surveys. Focus groups and interviews yield valuable
insights into customer attitudes and are excellent ways to
uncover issues related to new product or service development.
The results of interviewing small groups of people are not
statistically reliable, however, which means they don't necessarily
represent the opinions, behaviors or preferences of a large
segment of the population. Surveys, when well designed and
based on a representative sample of market participants, reveal
information that can represent the average views, opinion,
habits and preferences of the entire market. The larger the
sample, the more reliable (and useful) the survey findings.
Web based surveys are a rich addition to the more affordable
secondary research, but are not meant to replace secondary
research. For little cost, government data, trade association
reports and literature searches often provide you with information
on customer demographics (i.e., the average age, income, race,
education level, geographic location of customers), industry
wide sales and trends, and the number of potential customers.
To provide the best value to your market research client,
collect as much relevant secondary information before designing
survey research projects. For example, the report, "Sports
Participation in 2002: Series I," published by the National
Sporting Goods Association, provides participation rates for
26 sports by metropolitan area for $295.00. If a retail tennis
supply shop owner wants to know how many tennis players there
are in a certain geographic area, you would most likely recommend
that your client purchase the report. You probably could not
duplicate the information contained in the "Participation"
report for less than $295. However, if your client wants to
know a region's tennis racket or clothing brand preferences,
or how much the average tennis player plans to spend on tennis
accessories over the next year, the best way to find out is
to ask. And a web-based survey is a very cost effective way
to do so.
Hosted Web survey companies provide online software tools,
services and secure server space which allows you to easily
design, administer and store market research surveys and survey
results. Most hosted survey companies provide tutorials, question
templates, and customer service support along with their software
so that you can easily design and implement each online survey.
In the past, small businesses went without the valuable information
survey research provides because of the expense. According
to Mie-Yun Lee, founder and editorial director of BuyerZone.com,
and author of The Essential Business Buyer's Guide, telephone
surveys can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 and mail
surveys cost about $5,000 to $7,000, for 200 responses.
The total out of pocket cost for a web-based survey with
200 submitted responses varies from about $500 to $2000: if
you have an e-mail list of qualified respondents handy, out
of pocket expenses for a 200 response web based survey costs
about $500. If you have to purchase a respondent list (you
can purchase one from your hosted web survey company), out
of pocket expenses for a 200 response survey will run you
about $2000. The other major survey expense includes the minimal
amount of time you'll spend working with the hosted web survey
company and software to set up the survey.
It is possible, however, that some members of the market
group you are researching do not use the Internet, and so
you may consider conducting a "mixed mode" survey.
Mixed mode surveys yield the best survey results for markets
with a significant proportion of individuals who do not access
the Internet. You can mail the same survey you designed using
web-based survey design software to "offline" respondents,
or conduct the survey via the telephone. The additional cost
of adding about 50 offline responses to the survey varies,
but would be about $1,500, assuming an average cost of $30
per response. Mixed mode survey costs are higher than surveys
conducted solely via the web. For example, when you purchase
300 web survey responses from Hostedware, the cost per submitted
survey is just $1.60 each (you pay only for completed surveys
submitted), versus an estimated average cost of $8.70 per
response for a mixed mode survey of 50 off-line and 150 web
based survey results. The total project cost for conducting
a 200 response mixed mode survey would range from $2000 to
$3500, plus the cost of the minimal amount of time you'll
spend on web based survey design and final reporting to your
company or client. Mixed mode surveys are still more affordable
than telephone and mail surveys costing an estimated $5,000
Most Americans do use the Internet, and so low cost web based
survey results represent the views, opinions and shopping
habits of most market participants. According to "The
UCLA Internet Report: Surveying the Digital Future,"
71% of Americans used the Internet in 2002. With the greater
availability of easy-to-use and secure web-based surveys,
you can begin to offer your company or client more affordable,
primary market research. If you're an independent market research
professional, you can expand your revenue base by providing
your clients with more strategic, timely market survey information.
Business owners, decision makers and planners can turn to
you for affordable information tailored to their specific
market decision making needs when you incorporate the use
of web based surveys as part of your market research tool
Corporation is a pioneer in providing online software
solutions for research, education and performance improvement.
Hosted Survey and Hosted Test are used by human resources
professionals, market researchers, education and training
organizations and membership associations worldwide.
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