Online Surveys? You're doing it wrong.

Posted: 4.25.2018

Welcome to our blog!


The internet ushered in a new age of direct contact between companies and customers, delivering breakthrough insights, improving sales, revenues, and overall commerce.

Or did it?

Here we sit in 2018, where the "retail apocalypse" has seen long-time company brands filing bankruptcy, or even total liquidation. New products continue to struggle to find their target markets. Even "analysis paralysis" keeps analysts drowning in big data, but starving for big insights.

Even if the current trends in growing ecommerce continue, the data demonstrates that ecommerce will still only constitute only 17% of all retail sales in five years. That leaves 83% of retail will continue to be conducted in brick-and-mortar environments.

Yet, all the SEXY trends are on the ecommerce side. Tracking IP addresses, monitoring mobile phone locations, drilling into credit card data for buying trends and demographic insights. All these big brother tactics have ONE thing in common: treat people as data, and mine the heck out of that data.

But what insights have been gleaned? What closer connection to people has been fostered? And what, in turn, has happened to increase consumer loyalty? Answer: Not Much.


According to Forbes, there are 6 fundamental issues with online survey methodology:

1. Sampling/Framing Error: Typically a marketer will send a web survey invite to their house list of email addresses, but this house list may vary in substantial ways from the wider market they are trying to understand. In short, THEY ARE SURVEYING THE WRONG AUDIENCE

2. Prejudiced Interpretation: Without outside interpretation of results, data are easily contorted to support or negate internal management assumptions.

3. Design Issues: Don't ask if the price is right. Price elasticity curves can predict the correct market price, but the right SURVEY can give you insight into VALUE.

4. Bad Questions: Context is king, and a smart survey takes the location, in-the-moment behavior, and background of the respondent into account. Professional survey organizations can help you make the right moves.

5. Bad Inferences: The customer is always right, but they don't know your business. Asking "what should the company do?" is useless. Instead, asking about the ATTRIBUTES customers would like to see in a company action will allow company management to find the "right" answer, without relying on their own prejudices.

6. Either/Or when Testing Deciding on EITHER surveys OR a live test provides shallow, limited insight. The "why" behind a purchase is missed. Without the "why," succesful brand positioning for future sales is a guessing game. A truly good live test includes surveys, to ensure that live test results are providing not only sales, but insight for future sales.

When choosing a MR methodology, it can help to map out the decision-tree: