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Survey Design: The Next Steps

By Elyse Desmarais on August 13, 2015

In last week’s post, we discussed the beginning steps of survey design, which included developing your survey’s subject, identifying your panel’s demographics, and determining what questions your survey needs to ask in order to gather accurate data.

This week, we’ll cover interview and data collection methods and the importance of pretesting your questionnaires prior to deployment. We’ll also offer our best perspective on why text messaging is quickly becoming the most effective medium for surveying and how Instant Census can help you achieve higher response rates and faster response times than other mediums.

Interview and Data Collection Methods

When it comes to choosing the best interview and data collection method for your survey, there are a few options to choose from:

Survey Interviewer

1. Phone surveys

Although a more expensive interview method due to call center related costs, telephone surveys are quicker to complete than mail or email/web based surveys and offer a more random sample because they are less self-selective.

2. Surveys by Mail

A less expensive option, but not a time friendly one. Mail surveys often offer lower response rates, longer response times, and a less random level of response as the sample is more self-selective. They do, however, present the opportunity to include more longer/open response questions.

3. In-Person Interviews

This face-to-face interview method can take place anywhere you or your interviewees prefer (i.e. a polling center, homes, etc.) and are more acceptable for longer interviews with open ended questions. In-person interviews can be a more expensive option if travel is needed and a target audience may not be achievable if your bound to a certain geographic area, resulting in a non-representative sample. The survey process also may take longer to complete depending on the size of your interview team.

4. Email/Web Based Surveys

Email and web based surveys are an economical and non invasive option to interview your panel. While their response rates are faster compared to mail-in surveys, they still take a days, rather than minutes or hours, to yield results.

5. Text Message/Mobile Surveys

Individual Texting

Here at Instant Census, we believe text messaging is the ideal medium for survey deployment and data collection. Our text message surveys can achieve a 50% response rate with 1.5 minutes1 and are highly customizable to meet your survey’s specific needs.

Instant Census text message surveys offer:

  • Higher response rates and faster response times than email or web surveys

  • Lower costs than human call centers for phone surveys

  • Accessibility to all types of mobile users without a smartphone or an app

  • The ability to ask recurring or periodic surveys with minimal respondent fatigue

  • We also feature an on-call survey design team that will turn your survey into an adaptive study designed to meet your needs.

Pre-testing Questionnaires

Pre-testing your questionnaire is an essential step in the survey design process to proactively eliminate any issues you may run into when deploying your study.

Group Discussion

To pretest your survey, you should gather a group of 15-20 respondents whose demographics are similar to your survey panel. Upon deploying your survey to this Pre-Testing Questionnaires pretest group, you should gauge your respondents’ comprehension of your questions and judge if the answers provided successfully reflect the results you wish to obtain. If any errors are noticed, your questionnaire is then revised based on the pretest results.

Still have questions about survey design? Struggling to design a survey that best fits your needs? Unhappy with the response times and rates your current interview and data collection methods offer? Instant Census is here to help. Get in touch today!

  1. Data taken from compensated survey respondents. Calculated from 357,000 text messages aggregated from multiple research studies run by Instant Census. Similar results not guaranteed. 

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