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5 steps to designing an effective market research survey

January 28th 2014

There are five main steps to ensure that you put together a research survey that provides you with actionable and insightful results.

  1. Clearly identify what you need to find out
  2. Decide on the most appropriate data collection method
  3. Design your questionnaire and test it
  4. Collect the data
  5. Analyse and report on your results


Step 1 – What do you want to know?

Speak to your colleagues and all the people involved in the area that you are looking into to find out what questions they have and what areas they are unclear about or want to know more about. 

For example, for an employee satisfaction survey you could speak to HR/ personnel, heads of departments, possible Trade Union representatives and any other people that you feel whose views should be taken on board.

These views will help inform you about what needs to be included in the questionnaire particularly if there have been a lot of changes within the company, for example a merger or a round of redundancies, or maybe the company has expanded and recruited a new people, or even something as simple as the staff canteen’s prices have increased. 

Bear in mind that everyone will have a different agenda but you will have to provide meaningful and insightful data/reports. This is a crucial part of the process and we can ensure that you have insightful ideas from all areas whilst ensuring that the ultimate objectives are met for your Board or CEO.

Step 2 – Choose your data collection method

Multichannel data collectionDeciding on the most appropriate data collection method is very important; this will depend on who you are speaking to, how many people you want to speak to, how you will find these people and how hard is it to find these people. 

Using our previous example of an employee satisfaction survey, this at first glance looks obvious as nearly everyone can be contacted electronically via their work email addresses, however, in the manufacturing industry or in a local council where there are a wide range of jobs many people will not be contactable in this way. 

Methods that have been used successfully in the past include email invitations to complete an online survey to everyone that has an email address, having a work station set up in a private area for departments without email access and also paper questionnaires handed out that can be returned anonymously.  Using these options increases both response rates and inclusivity and is something that we can help you with.    

Step 3 – Design and test your research questionnaire

Change at a company will affect people’s feelings, so for an employee satisfaction survey that is being run for the first time it is worth having a set of questions that measure satisfaction with various aspects, and that can be used for every subsequent survey to measure change. Some general questions that can change every year can also be added, and demographic questions like age, gender etc need to be included. 

We can help you put together a cohesive and comprehensible questionnaire that follows a journey and provides you with the answers that you need.  Once you have designed your questionnaire, pilot it, which means test it and test it again with colleagues in different departments as questions may be unclear or irrelevant or you may have missed out something really important. 

Step 4 – Data collection

After your successful pilot you can start fieldwork. Be clear to everyone who has been invited the reason for the research, what you hope to find out, what this will mean for them, the date that you need the questionnaire back and when they will get to see the results. 

Increase response by sending out reminders to those who have completed the questionnaire and by providing an independent platform or host to complete surveys. 

This is particularly important to ensure that you comply with Data Protection legislation when you have very small departments with easily identifiable employees, for example, the sole female in a department of five.

Step 5 – Data analysis and actionable reporting

Actionable reportingAnalysing data can be a long process depending on the collection method used. Online data collection makes analysis much easier but if you have open-ended questions that let the respondent write in what they want this can make it harder.

We can help with all aspects of analysing research data and putting together data tables that show you how sub-groups have answered and if they are statistically different. 

Putting reports together is also something that needs to be considered; will you need a summary report, a full report or different reports for different departments and style needs to be considered so think about who is reading the report and why they are reading it.  We are used to putting together reports for different audiences and can support you through the process.

Speak to us or email if you have any questions about designing a research questionnaire, or want to talk about how market research can help you.