Data is sexy.
It powers algorithms, finances and my favorite PR campaigns. While we can source it a few different ways, surveys are a powerful way to get strong data and tell trend stories, capture consumer sentiment or validate a company’s product.
But at times, numbers can be overwhelming or take a bit more effort to analyze. And even in 2019, old time survey practices are causing skewed and incorrect data. Jeffrey Henning, Chief Research Officer at Researchscape International, explained that improper survey practices from the 1960s are still being copied over into today’s survey development.
Here are a few things to consider when developing surveys to maximize your data and extract meaningful stories from it.
It all starts with a headline
When developing surveys, it’s important to develop questions based on desired headlines. More often than not, we get carried away with ideas and forget to think of the big picture. Doing this can create a few challenges, like leading questions and a non-cohesive storyline.
“The study should be built on the headlines that the research ideally would inform, but those headlines should be regarded as hypotheses to be tested – some will prove true, some won’t,” says Tony Cheevers, VP at Researchscape.
While our desired headlines will likely change once the survey is complete, it provides a good starting point and establishes a broad storyline. This helps eliminate the stress of looking at numbers and not knowing where to start.
Don’t wait for complete results
Most of the time, we send our questions to be fielded and in a few days we get the hard numbers back. It’s the standard process with most vendors. But Cheevers notes how important flexibility is when collecting responses.
“Once the first 100 responses are collected, we pause the survey and identify trends in the response data,” Cheevers said. “We often come to a new realization about the market that we may not have been expecting. From here we can craft new questions, and retire others, to illustrate the new trend we noticed.”
When fielding surveys we often gain a new understanding of that particular topic. Previewing the data helps us identify holes in our thinking and dig into new and interesting topics that we may have missed at first.
Compare, contrast, calculate
While we often get data back and instantly look for a surprising number to use as our media hook, remember to look beyond the numbers given to us. It’s important, especially with sliding scales, to add and subtract different responses together. Further, look at comparisons. While Taylor Swift thinks spelling is fun, she fails to mention that math is fun, too!
Cheevers explains that he’s seen some of the best headlines just by looking at the differences in generations, geographies and workplace environments. It seems obvious, but it’s an often overlooked step. Taking the time to crunch numbers on a calculator will let you create a more impactful story and get the most insight from your survey data.
Consider how else you can repurpose
Surveys should never be seen as an opportunity just for media coverage. As we continue to embrace digital strategies to extend traditional media campaigns, surveys can be paired with other marketing and sales initiatives.
“Obtain the maximum ROI on a study by repurposing it for webinars, lead-generating white papers, a series of blog posts, an infographic, and illustrations designed for sharing on social media,” Cheevers said.
Looking to maximize data, client Mr. Cooper used quarterly surveys to build out their blog content with infographics, videos, whitepapers and tips for homeowners. And it’s paid off: this year Mr. Cooper was awarded Gold and Bronze Stevie awards in recognition of their blog content and data driven-series.
While surveys can be overwhelming, starting with the storyline early is critical for success. It’s also just as important to partner with a survey vendor who is able to help you meet your objectives. Looping partners, like Researchscape, into the brainstorming process early on helps eliminate bias and maximize the success of your survey. By considering these tips and putting your calculator to good use, you too can tell impactful stories through data.