How to make market research engaging for research participants

Paul Stallard - Monday November 4th 2019

There are a number of ways to make market research engaging for research participants.  The first and most important rule is not to make surveys too long. There is a temptation, when you are paying for research, to stuff your questionnaire with everything that you want to find out, and to try to serve multiple purposes and answer multiple questions with just one survey. Not only does this approach make the questionnaire too long, which is boring for participants, but it also makes it seem disjointed – participants find it harder to make the mental switch between topics, and it is less clear to them why you are doing the research. These days, online research is cost effective, so it makes more sense to keep your questionnaire short and focused, and know that your participants are engaged from beginning to end.

Survey design also plays a key part in making market research engaging. It is important to vary the question types as you go through the questionnaire to keep interest levels high. For example, grid-based questions, with questions and answers laid out in row and columns, should be used sparingly as they can seem complicated, and can also encourage ‘speeding’ where participants rush through, checking any answer just to get to the end. Similarly, lists of statements, ranking questions or repetition, such as asking the same questions about two different product variations should be kept to the minimum.

Survey design can also be used in a positive way to make market research more engaging. Online surveys offer the ability to include images and graphics which help break up text and make the questionnaire more interesting to complete.  There are also many different ways for participants to answer questions. Instead of just using tick boxes, you can include sliding scales, dropdown boxes, clicking on images, or drag and drop questions, all of which make questionnaires more fun and engaging to complete.

Finally, make sure that your questionnaire is optimised for mobile. So many people now want to complete market research on a mobile device, so mobile is essential if you want to engage participants – and ensure your survey is representative.

These days, online research is cost effective, so it makes sense to keep your questionnaire short and focused, and know that your participants are engaged from beginning to end

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