Surveys, also known as demand-side primary research, can be a very useful tool that allows analysts to gain a better understanding of organization's needs, issues, product requirements, pricing sensitivity and the like. Although having this information in hand allows the market to build better, more useful products, it is increasingly difficult to get people to respond.
Although I've not conducted a survey on surveys, I would attribute this reluctance to many factors. Here's a small sample of those issues.
- Decision makers are just too busy to bother with a survey, no matter how useful participation would be to their organization.
- Some surveys ask too many questions and so, take too much time to complete
- Some groups use surveys as a way to market their product or service rather than seeking information in a neutral, unbiased way.
- It is not clear that responding will make a difference in what products are offered, what features will be included or what the pricing is going to be. Some suppliers appear not to care what people think.
Conducting a survey isn't always a treat either. Here are a few reasons that is the case.
- Obtaining a distribution list can be very costly. So, many organizations will purchase the least costly list they can find that includes potential respondents that are vaguely, sorta, kinda like the target group. This "shot gun" approach often means that many are irritated and a few respond. This, by the way, lowers the overall response rate for all other surveys.
- Response rate to surveys has been declining for years. At one point, getting 1/2 of 1 percent response was considered good. It's much worse now.
- Authoring a comprehensive, concise, neutral and unbiased survey instrument (list of questions) is quite an art. It's rather rare than a product manager or product marketing manager trying to learn about the needs of their product's target audience will do much more than write something promoting his/her views. I've also been subjected to surveys containing misspelled words and grammatical errors as well.
- A comprehensive, worldwide survey must be offered in several languages and using several different techniques. While some will respond to an Email invitation and visit a website to answer questions, others will only respond if someone they know and trust invites them to take part. Furthermore, some will only respond if they are going to be personally interviewed rather than being asked to visit a website. This, of course, means that conducting a survey is a long process so, industry opinion could have changed by the time results are compiled, analyzed and a report is written.
Have you taken part in a survey recently? Do you think that your responses will actually make a difference? If you haven't shared your views, what incentives would cause you to take time out of your busy schedule to respond?