Whether you’re a marketer in a consumer packaged goods (CPG) company or a market research firm, your life probably revolves around surveys. Every survey you conduct, whether online or offline, counts and adds up. That’s a lot of data to process. That’s why it’s essential to get the most out of your research participants by asking the right questions.
If you’re new to survey design, the best approach is to follow the stepwise technique laid out in the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) Report on Survey Methodology. You can’t go wrong with this tried and tested approach. In this article, we’ll run down the essentials you need to know about designing an effective online marketing survey.
Step 1: The Problem That You’re Solving
Like with any research project, the first step is to define the problem that you’re solving. Your survey will only be as good as your research question. Even if you’ve got a great idea for a survey, it won’t mean anything unless you’ve got the right query to pull it all together. In the case of online marketing research, your chief problem is how to measure the success of online marketing campaigns.
Depending on the resources available to you, you can either build a scientific panel or go the DIY route and ask volunteers to take the survey.
Step 2: The Theory That Guides Your Research
Next, you need to determine the theory that guides your research. Like with any scientific research, the most reliable way of finding out what works and what doesn’t is to test it. While it’s great to have ideas to test, you need to be careful what you try and what you expect. This is where the stepwise approach comes in.
When you set out to design a research project, you’ll ideally want to start with a broad research question. For example, if you’re looking at the effectiveness of Facebook advertising, you might want to start by testing some general hypotheses about social media marketing in general. Then, you can drill down to a more specific question about Facebook advertising.
As you work your way through your list of research hypotheses, you’ll want to test them against one another. When you do this, you’ll start to see patterns emerge and you can refine your theory about how the world works. The closer your theory matches reality, the better. If you’ve got a solid theory based on accurate data, your research will be that much more persuasive.
Nowadays, the best way to come up with a research question is to use a tool called a ‘hypothesis template’. This is a structure that you can fill in for any research project. You can find one online that’s already pre-configured with a list of questions, or you can build your own from scratch. Either way, using a ready-made template will save you a lot of time. It also makes it much easier to update as you test your theory. What’s more, filling in the template will help you get a clearer idea of exactly what you’re trying to find out. This, in turn, will improve the quality of your research. So, even if you’ve got nothing written, getting straight to work on a template will benefit you immeasurably.
Step 3: The Sampling Strategy
The next step in setting up an effective online research project is to decide on a sampling strategy. There are three basic options here. You can use a random sample, a purposeful sample, or a combination of the two. If you want to choose a random sample, that’s the simplest option. You can also decide to target a specific group or demographic, such as men between the ages of 18 and 24. Or you can go the other way and use a purposeful sample, selecting only those respondents who fit your theory about what kind of person will best answer your questions. There’s a lot to think about when choosing a sampling strategy and it can be quite overwhelming. So, take your time and don’t rush into making this decision. Think of all the options and how each one might affect the quality of your data. It’s also a good idea to consult with experts who’ve designed surveys before and can give you some advice about how to make the right choice.
Step 4: The Survey Instrument
The final step in a research project is to design the survey instrument. This is a list of the questions you’ll use to measure your variables of interest. In the case of an online marketing research project, your variables of interest include the respondents’ attitudes and behaviors regarding a specific brand or product. In order to measure these variables, you’ll need to design a set of questions that can accurately capture what you’re looking for. Once you’ve got this instrument, the only thing left is to administer it and crunch the numbers.
Like any good survey, the quality of your instrument will heavily depend on the quality of your questions. One critical step here is to sit with the individual or individuals who will be administering the survey, to make sure they’re crystal clear about exactly what you’re looking for. Otherwise, they might end up measuring something entirely different and you’ll end up with faulty data. To avoid this, you need to make sure that each question is precise and easy to understand.
Measuring The Effectiveness Of Your Online Marketing Campaign
Whether you’ve just completed a survey or are in the middle of one, the single most important thing you can do is to measure the effectiveness of your online marketing campaign. There are a variety of tools you can use to track the results of your marketing efforts. Some of the most popular ones are Google Analytics, which can be accessed from your Google AdWords dashboard; and HubSpot, a platform that aggregates all of your marketing data into one place and makes it easy to keep track of what’s happening across all channels. Additionally, you can use tools like SurveyMonkey, which will pull all of your survey data into one place, or Harvest, which allows you to track the results of your online marketing activities across all platforms (e.g., email, blog, and social media).
When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your online marketing campaign, it’s important to look at a number of different metrics. Some of the most important ones include;
- page views
- interactions (e.g., clicks, taps, drops, and form submissions)
- brand awareness
Keep in mind that not all interactions are created equal. For example, a click on an online ad might not be the same as a tap on a blog post. It’s also important to look at the type of content people are consuming as well as where they’re consuming it. This will give you a better idea of the impact your content is having.
Once you’ve got all of this data, it’s important to dig into the numbers and find the patterns. This is where the stepwise approach comes in again. Once you’ve found these patterns, it’s time to ask yourself, ‘Is this supported by reality or simply an assumption?’ If it’s the latter, it’s time to either reevaluate your theory or find additional evidence to support it. If it’s the former, congratulations! You’ve either created a groundbreaking theory or confirmed an existing one. Your research will be that much more persuasive.
So, as you can see, getting an effective research question and the right theory behind it are absolutely essential. Without them, your research will be nothing more than a whim based on an idea. But with them, you can come up with a solid foundation for your research and show it to the world with confidence.