How Does an Online Survey Project Work? | Market Research Company

Not all online survey projects are the same, but each shares similar process characteristics. For the most part, our online survey company follows a related process flowchart of kickoff to design to fieldwork to reporting.

However, you might find that each new online survey project provides new challenges and hiccups that force you to adjust your process on the fly.

Working with a market research company that is flexible and responsive like Drive Research is essential. Having an idea about the next steps in the online survey process helps everyone adjust strategies accordingly.

This post answers the question of how an online survey project works in market research with a real-world example.


Step 1. Request for a Proposal or Quote

Before choosing a market research company to conduct your online survey, you will likely earn several proposals or quotes from different vendors. When you receive a proposal for your online survey, you can expect to learn more about the process, timeline, and costs.

This may be sent as a formal PDF or as an email. It depends on how much information you need to select a third-party.

Learn more about the 7-components of a market research proposal.


Step 2. Kick-off Meeting

After selecting your online survey provider, the third-party will host a kick-off meeting to discuss the intricate details and objectives of the project.

The online survey firm may ask questions such as:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are you hoping to learn from the data?
  • How will you use the data?
  • How many survey responses do you need?
  • How many questions would you like to ask?

It is okay if you don’t know the answers to these types of questions just yet. The market research company can offer their expert recommendations.


Step 3. Survey Design & Programming

Managing an online survey project is front and back-loaded, meaning the majority of a market research company’s time is going to be spent designing, programming, and testing the online survey on the front-end.

Conversely, on the back end, there is a lot of work during data cleaning, analysis, and reporting (as we will discuss later in this post).

Once the kick-off meeting is over, the survey analyst will draft a list of survey questions and formats for your team to review.

This is your chance to share any comments, suggestions, or concerns before the survey goes live.

After your team approves of the survey document, the research company will program the questionnaire.

Next, the analyst will test the online survey to assure it is working as intended. A third-party will also make sure the online survey is both mobile and desktop friendly.

Our online survey company also gives our clients the chance to test the survey so they can view the study from the eye of a respondent.

To learn more about programming an online survey, watch this 1-minute video.


Step 4. Fieldwork

Other than monitoring fieldwork and answering any technical questions from survey respondents once the online survey is "live" and running, the data collection period is straight-forward.

Our online survey firm recommends soft-launching a questionnaire first. In other words, instead of sending your survey to all 1,000 respondents, it is beneficial to only send it to a smaller sample of respondents.

Although a survey is tested many times before reaching the fieldwork stage, this step validates responses are being measured correctly.  

How long does an online survey project take on average? 

The vast majority of online survey completes are received in the first 24 to 48 hours of launch.

Reminder emails will provide you with a bump in response rate, but it is minimal compared to what you will receive on the initial invite. So many online surveys will only run one week or less.


Step 5. Reporting

After fieldwork is closed, the real fun begins. The online survey company will analyze and breakdown the data to draft a market research report.

Drive Research offers our clients the choice between a topline or comprehensive report. A topline report shares key findings and highlights from an online survey, while the comprehensive report gets into the nitty-gritty details.

Learn more about the difference between a topline and a comprehensive market research report.


Step 6. Debrief Meeting

The online survey company will share the market research report with your team to review.

As a next step, they will schedule a debrief meeting to walk through the report page by page. It is important to our market research company that our clients truly understand the findings from the study.

Charts and graphs mean nothing if you cannot understand the data that they represent. For this reason, Drive Research offers recommendations and explanations for how to use these actionable insights.


Online Survey Project Example

The best way to learn how an online survey project works with a third-party is by outlining a real-world example.

Our market research company recently partnered with a web services provider to conduct an online survey. In this section, I will discuss the objectives, process, and outcomes of this research study.

Objectives of the Online Survey Project

The web services solution provider hired Drive Research to survey targeted information technology decision-makers and influencers (ITDMs) at organizations based in the U.S.

The proprietary study for the client focused on:

  • Software usage
  • Purchasing behaviors
  • Consumption models
  • Presumed cost and time savings

Also, the survey measured trends driven by COVID-19, features, before and after usage benefits, and the value proposition of the client’s solution.

The results will be used as part of a public relations (PR), sales collateral, and a content strategy to grow brand awareness.

Executing the Online Survey

Drive Research recommended using an online PR survey to collect feedback from ITDMs throughout the country. PR surveys have a multitude of benefits for brands looking to grow awareness among business audiences.

This approach offered the client a cost-effective solution to quickly gather quality data. Compared to other methodologies such as phone or mail surveys, the online survey is the best approach to earning a strong ROI.

How were survey responses collected?

The survey was fielded through a panel marketplace of business respondents. It collected 500 responses from the targeted and qualified audience. Additional responses were removed, which did not meet the data quality controls.

The survey took an average of 15 minutes to complete and included 41 questions. 

To learn more about PR surveys, read our ultimate guide.

Example Online Survey Questions

Information technology decision-makers and influencers were asked to answer questions such as:

  • How likely are you to recommend [INSERT CLIENT NAME] to a friend or colleague? Select a rating.
  • Describe your experience using [INSERT CLIENT NAME].
  • What were your top initial barriers or concerns before using [INSERT CLIENT NAME] for the first time?
  • Which of the following categories of software and services have you purchased in the past from [INSERT CLIENT NAME], and which do you plan to purchase in the future?
  • Please compare your experiences when purchasing from [INSERT CLIENT NAME] and purchasing from other sources.
  • Think about your typical IT purchasing process for cloud computing software and services. How many hour(s) do each of the following take when you use [INSERT CLIENT NAME] /do not use [INSERT CLIENT NAME]?

The Results of the Online Survey 

Fieldwork for the survey began on July 3 and lasted until August 18, 2020. The reliability of this data is high for a highly specific business audience. As intended, all respondents influenced decisions or made purchases for information technology (IT).

Based on the title of the respondent and the size of the organization, all survey respondents made decisions or purchases for a variety of other departments and teams as well.

In addition, all online survey respondents were required to have used the client’s web services solutions.

At the 95% confidence interval with a probabilistic sample, the margin of error for these results is +/- 4%. If the surveys were conducted with another 500 random respondents, results would yield within +4% or -4% of the totals 95 out of 100 times.

Although the key results of the online survey remain private with the web services provider, the study was successful in providing our clients with the data they needed to fuel PR and content marketing strategies.


Contact Our Online Survey Company

Drive Research is a national market research firm. Our experts execute online surveys from project kickoff to reporting. Have a question about your next online survey project? Contact us through any of the four ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at info@driveresearch.com
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

emily carroll about the author

Emily Carroll

A SUNY Cortland graduate, Emily has taken her passion for social and content marketing to Drive Research as the Marketing Coordinator. She has earned certificates for both Google Analytics and Google AdWords.

Learn more about Emily, here.


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