It has been spoken about at-length in the market research industry. Sampling shifts to convenience methodologies over random approaches have become more commonplace out of necessity. The driver of random sampling is statistical reliability. Users of this approach want to make the claim results are within a +/- percent margin of error.
A common random sampling approach is political polling. Although it is vital to claim statistical reliability for some studies, it does come with a cost. The cost typically involves a large sum of hours applied to telephone calls, a large number of completes, and a lengthy period of time for fieldwork. Not all businesses can afford nor prefer this approach.
As mobile technologies and the internet have grown exponentially in adoption since the late 1990s, access to survey respondents has increased through adoption of email, websites, and social media. As a result, many companies have turned to these platforms for surveying efforts. Although this type of convenience sampling cannot claim statistical reliability through a margin of error, many believe the pros far outweigh the cons with this approach. If your market research consultant uses convenience sampling or river sampling well through a variety of sources, it provides your business with low costs, reliable quality data, and a quick turnaround for fieldwork. These benefits are something that a lengthy telephone survey cannot claim.
A good blended convenience sampling approach needs to utilize a number of different respondent sources to obtain a strong cross-representation of an audience. Relying solely on one source (e.g., panel, social media, one website) will raise caution about biasing the completes. Although the blended approach is not purely statistically significant, a broad sampling plan can make the results representative and reliable of the market.
Here are some options to increase the reliability and representation of your convenience sample for your online survey:
- Use a panel - this is an obvious one. Although some panels are much better than others, many panels have built-in biases of professional survey takers or recruitment biases. Panel companies are often merged and acquired combining customer, non-customer, B2B, and B2C databases and sometimes the demographic make-up of the panel will suffer.
- Use Facebook paid advertisements - an underutilized tool that has paid large dividends. Facebook paid ads allows hyper-targeted filters to ensure your survey message shows up in the news feeds of your intended audience. The investment can be fairly minimal for thousands of impressions. Because of the social nature of Facebook, you also reap the free benefit of organic shares from users on top of your paid impressions.
- Use LinkedIn groups - if you are looking to target a specific B2B audience or user group within B2C, chances are there is a LinkedIn group that you can join to post your survey message.
- Use LinkedIn ads - much like Facebook, you can utilize targeted B2B survey publication based on roles, types of organizations, and locations using this social platform.
- Use Twitter - this provides instant access to all audiences using hashtags. #SurveyFreedom
- Use local business publications - scour the area you are targeted for local business journals, news publications, and outlets that are looking for content to fill space. You might get some free publication for your survey depending on the nature and impact of your topic in local geographies.
- Use local websites - find local websites or community organizations that might be willing to help you get your message out.
- Use your personal networks - last but not least, sending personal emails and making personal phone calls to your network can slowly but surely add to your sample size. This often takes time and lots of effort but the chance of the person responding is much higher than any of these other options.
Drive Research is an online survey company in Albany, NY. Visit our contact us page to ask us a question or get some advice on your next project. Call us at 315-303-2040 or send us an email at email@example.com.