Should You Use Internet Surveys?
Today we want to give you a peek behind the curtain at MEG Research. We’re having an interesting internal discussion over the value of Internet polling versus phone and in-person surveys and we wanted to share that with you.
With the rise of the Internet and the ease of e-mail, many businesses and associations have come to rely on electronic versions to quickly and easily create surveys and save on costs. An electronic questionnaire can cost as little as 5-20% of a regular campaign. Whole companies have sprung up around the concept. The real question then is, will the data you get back be accurate?
Internally at MEG Research we’ve looked at possibly integrating the use of electronic surveys to save our clients money. But our entire company is built around a promise to deliver accurate, precise data to our clients.
Businesses that rely on us need to feel completely comfortable that the information we give them is right and truly reflects the mindset of the sample population we talk to. In the end we found there was no way we could make that guarantee with purely electronic surveying.
Response Rate and Response Bias:
So what is the difference? The most well designed Internet surveys average a response rate of <30%. Most get less than a 10% response rate and one of our customers had a 1% return rate on a recent e-mail survey. That means the vast majority of people you’re trying to reach so you can get their feedback aren’t getting back to you. Response rates can be even lower when there are no pre and post-notifications.
Additionally, there is no way to account for variables such as spam filters, bounce rates and how a survey is displayed on a computer if a respondent opens the e-mail.
According to David Walonick, Ph.D and President of StatPac, Inc. response rate is generally considered the single most important factor in determining the validity of a sample.
With such low response rates and uncontrolled variables, it’s hard to determine whether the answers are valid or not.
At MEG Research we’re sticking with tried and true methods developed over more than 40-years. Our team uses phone and in-person interviews with response rates that average between 70-90% and we can control the variables.
Is there a place for Internet surveys? Yes there are. If you’re trying to get a general feel for a given topic or quick feedback then a well-designed electronic survey can help you get answers quickly. But if you’re looking for in-depth analysis and making strategic decisions based on the results then the old-fashioned method is still the best.
To learn more about how MEG Research works with real estate professionals please visit our website at http://www.meg-research.com