There are a number of DIY survey options that users can access, making it easy to create online surveys and questionnaires. There is no doubt that these tools are helpful and can provide meaningful insights, but they are no substitution for in-depth market research studies.
One of main reasons why you can’t substitute DIY surveys for a properly designed market research study is because of wording. It takes a lot of skill to write up survey questions that don’t inadvertently lead respondents to the answer you want. If you’re taking a quick ‘pulse survey’ or wanting users to rate their experience, these DIY tools are fine. The pitfall is using poorly worded surveys to guide strategic decision-making.
Organizations must proceed with caution thinking that information captured through DIY surveys can replace properly designed surveys or other quantitative or qualitative methodologies.
Below are three common pitfalls of DIY surveys:
Lack of Expertise—Writing good survey questions is part science and part art. When designing surveys for clients, market researchers give a lot of consideration to word choice, sentence phrasing, order of the questions, and length of questions. Researchers know that the quality of the data depends on how the survey questions are written and organized. Replicating this experience is not something that a DIY survey tool can capture.
Pro Tip: Leave more comprehensive surveys to the professionals and keep DIY surveys to simple Yes/No questions. For example: Would you shop with us again? Y/N; Did you find our facilities clean? Y/N.
Data Bias—Poorly written survey questions almost always lead to poor data. It’s easy to influence how respondents answer survey questions by how questions are asked. Another way that survey data is biased is by oversimplifying questions that require more nuanced answers. This is especially true when conducting political surveys.
Pro Tip:Survey questions shouldn’t limit answers to Yes/No if there is a middle ground that needs exploration. Including a numeric scale is one work-around to figure out more nuanced attitudes.
Analysis—DIY survey tools make it easy to send out surveys to hundreds, or thousands, of people. Analyzing the results of any qualitative or quantitative study takes organizational skill so that the data can be categorized and analyzed. Even though DIY survey tools can superficially sort data, through charts and graphs, there is a lot of expertise required to interpret the data to find deeper insights.
Pro Tip: Be careful reading too much into survey results, unless you’re working with a professional market researcher.Be aware of confirmation bias and interpreting data in ways you want to hear.
There is little doubt that market research studies are invaluable tools for organizations wanting to gain deeper insights to the ‘what’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ behind consumers’ behavior. Quantitative research, such as polls, surveys, and questionnaires can be powerful tools to help answer some of these questions. DIY survey tools certainly have a place within organizations, but they’re no substitution for a well-designed quantitative study done by experienced professionals.