What Type of Survey Do You Need?
What are the best uses for surveys? When do they add value to your research and when do they waste your time and money?
A survey is a great tool for gaining insight into a topic, industry, company, population, and so forth. But commissioning a survey can also be a magnificent waste of resources. So how can you make sure that you use surveys productively?
A survey should tell you something that you don’t already know or that you can’t find out by other means. It should test a hypothesis, not seek to validate one. If you don’t know what you want to learn from a survey, you will assuredly learn very little from the results.
In future articles, we’ll discuss how to properly design a survey. But first, you must decide what type of survey is best given your research goals.
Here are six of the most common types of surveys and what they can help you learn:
- Consumer Sentiment Survey, Net Promoter Score (NPS) Survey, and Brand Equity Survey. What your customers, clients, and employees think about you matters. Are they advocates of your brand or detractors? These surveys can quantify the value of your brand and how your audience perceives it.
- Market Penetration Survey. Not sure how prevalent your product or service is in the industry? By asking broad questions about familiarity and usage, you can obtain responses that help you gauge market share.
- Competitive Analysis Survey. How does your product or service stack up against those of competitors? How is market share shifting? What criteria are customers using to make their decisions? All these questions are crucial to understanding how you should position your wares. A competitive analysis survey is designed to obtain such insights.
- Channel Check Survey. Instead of taking a direct approach to evaluating a company, you can use supply chains and distribution networks as proxies. When you understand how a vendor or logistics partner views a product, or how a logistics partner views a product, you gain a more comprehensive view of your target company and how it operates and performs in its industry.
- Evaluation Survey. How are things going? What’s working? What’s not working? All such questions can be answered and analyzed quickly and easily. Evaluation surveys are most often used within companies to gauge performance and engagement levels, to gain feedback about various initiatives, and to solicit recommendations. To get the most out of these surveys, the results should be shared widely and should be accompanied by executive actions inspired by the responses. You can also use this type of survey to test perceptions about proposed product features.
- Strategic Planning Survey. Like an evaluation survey, a strategic planning survey can gather feedback on proposed initiatives and provide a forum for recommendations. The main difference is that strategic planning surveys are almost exclusively internal. Respondents can rate and rank the relative importance of strategic initiatives. The respondent will perceive the survey differently than he perceives an evaluation survey. With strategic planning surveys, the respondent is made to feel a part of advancing the business. Employee buy-in is a critical component of any strategic planning process.
You are now ready to make some important decisions: first, whether a survey is an appropriate tool for your current research goals; second, if so, what type of survey will best accomplish your research goals.
In our next article, we’ll cover the tenets of effective survey design.
Will Mellor, Director of Surveys, GLG
Will Mellor leads a team of accomplished project managers who serve financial service firms across North America. His team manages end-to-end survey delivery from first draft to final deliverable. Will is an expert on GLG’s internal membership and consumer populations, as well as survey design and research. Before coming to GLG, he was the VP of an economic consulting group, where he was responsible for designing economic impact models for clients in both the public sector and the private sector. Will has bachelor’s degrees in international business and finance and a master’s degree in applied economics.
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