Online Survey Glossary of Terms | Piping, Branching, Quotas and More

If you are launching an online survey for the first time, it's not hard to be easily overwhelmed by the terminology used by your market research company or the survey software. When you are sending an online survey to your customers, the last thing you want is a major mishap or mistake which could harm your brand. So although the Voice of Customer (VoC) effort was a smart move, because of those issues it creates more problems than it solves.

Issues with online survey invites or reminders make a market researcher tremble. Fortunately, because we've used so many systems and have lots of experience, we know what we're doing. This base on knowledge is something that a newbie or in-house project manager doesn't have the liberty of leaning on when the time comes.

That's okay, we're here to help. In this post we'll discuss the definitions of some of the terminology used in online survey platforms and software which might be confusing to a first-time user.

Online Survey Glossary of Terms | Piping, Branching, Quotas and More

With the ability to carry your survey across devices, online surveys have become the most common form of market research.

What is Piping?

Piping is a term used in market research and online surveys which means to carry forward language or text from a previous respondent answer to a subsequent answer. This is what it means to "pipe" text.

The example here is if a respondent types in "I like the Rochester branch's customer service and friendly tellers". A follow-up question could say "You mentioned I like the Rochester branch's customer service and friendly tellers, is that a positive, neutral, or negative response?"

Answer piping helps an analyst with sentiment questions like these but it also helps with engagement in general. Piping acts as an active listening tool within the survey platform. Taking prior respondent answers and pulling them into future questions so the respondent does not have to repeat him or herself. It also saves the respondent from having to re-type or repeat themselves in the survey.

What is Branching?

Branching is a term used in market research and online survey programming which paths respondents appropriate to applicable questions based on prior survey answers. Other terms used from branching include logic and skipping.

A simple example here asking a yes or no question about "Are you aware of Company ABC?" If the respondent answers "yes" they are branched to a question about "What is your perception of Company ABC?"

If the respondent answers "no" they are branched to the next section of the survey, skipping the perception question. Branching is an excellent way to reduce survey time and only ask pertinent questions to respondents. This is one of the major benefits advanced survey software and market research firms can offer with their platforms.

With branching, you can route respondents to follow-up questions appropriately.

What is a Quota?

In market research, a quota is a limit or cap placed on specific segments, buckets, or geographies in a survey. This quota ensures a maximum number of completed surveys are collected from intended buckets. Quotas help define and manage sample and the proportions of survey completes.

An example of a quota would be a bank and credit union survey which has 6 markets. The financial institution wants to collect 600 completes in total but wants 100 completed surveys from each territory. A quota of 100 should be set up for each geography to cap the number of completes at 100.

If this was randomly sent out to customers without a quota, you may find that some of your smaller geographies may have only collected 25 or 30 completes before you hit your overall quota of 600. This can limit the analysis you can run in these markets.

What is Randomization?

Randomization in online surveys is a way to mitigate order bias. Randomization is a way or reordering answer choices in a non-logical order so the list in shown differently to each respondent taking the survey. In your survey, you want to eliminate choice bias as much as possible.

Showing an answer category first time-and-time again in a list will result in that first choice being chosen more than others in the list. By randomizing, it mixes up categories to ensure the results are unbiased and reliable.

If your choice list is A-B-C-D, randomization would show that order to the next respondent as B, C, A, D and D, B, A, C, and C, D, B, A for the next, and so on.

What Does it Mean to Disqualify?

Perhaps you do not want to let everyone who is interested in your survey to take it. The term disqualify means to re-route a survey taker to the end screen because their answers to specific questions do not fit the profile of survey respondent you are looking for.

An example here is running a survey where you are looking to obtain survey completes from specific geographies, let's say 4 counties. One of the first questions in your survey that you are sharing on social media should ask "In which of the following counties do you reside?"

Those who do not select 1 of those 4 counties are routed to a disqualification screen that typically reads "Thank you for your interest in taking this survey, unfortunately you do not qualify".

Contact Us

Drive Research focuses on market research services in Rochester and Western New York. Our clients expand across all markets in the United States and many industries.

Not sure if we can help you? Contact us with your questions and we can point you in the right direction. Reach out to us at [email protected] or call us at 315-303-2040.

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