May-June 2009

Better Insight – Is Online Research Really That Good?

Dear Reader,

Our survey says that … online research might be cheaper and faster than ‘traditional’ research methods. But is it everything it’s cracked up to be? How can you use it to find out what you need to know about your clients and your competitors? How can you use it to help make those really important decisions to help move your business forward? Read on to find out!

Best wishes,

Martin Holliss

t: +44 1235 812 456
m: +44 7931 376501

Is Online Research Really That Good?

Here are some questions and answers, to help you decide and to give you some ideas on how and where you can use online research.

1. Is online research cheaper than traditional methods? In certain situations, yes. Online research will cost less than telephone interviewing, but set-up costs can be higher. Telephone research may be cheaper for 100 interviews but online will usually be cheaper if you’re doing 500 or more interviews.

2. So is online research best for large surveys? Done correctly, online research works very well both for large and small surveys. Much depends on what you need to find out, the type of people you need to ask and on how well your questionnaire is designed.

3. Why is questionnaire design so important? To make sure your data is reliable. Too many surveys are designed just to collect answers – you need to think about who is answering the survey and how easy it is for them to give you accurate answers.

4. But isn’t collecting answers the whole point? Of course! But a poorly designed questionnaire won’t give you what you need – reliable, robust insight. If you ask too many questions, or give too many options to choose from, you’ll create ‘respondent fatigue’ where any old answer is entered just to finish the survey!

5. Can online research reach the people I am interested in? Yes if you design it properly and make sure you can reach a representative sample of the right population.

6. So is online research worth considering? Definitely! Sometimes it’s the best tool to use, such as following up on customer feedback or complaints posted on your website, where time is of the essence. Online research is also ideal if you need to survey people from different countries (but do make sure your translations are “word perfect”!).

I hope these questions and answers have given you some ideas on how and where you can use online research to get your business ahead of your competitors.

Using Online Research to Reach the Online Generation

We were asked to interview 4-14 year old children right across a County.

The survey needed to engage the children so we could measure exactly what they were thinking. We had to include children from all socio-economic groups, many with a range of disabilities. No surprise as well that timelines were short and the budget was limited!

A carefully designed online questionnaire was piloted on a small number of students to make sure it worked; some of the children drew pictures that were used for the survey screens and to illustrate our report.  Then, over a four-week period, 6500 children completed the survey during their IT classes.

The result? A very happy client, who got the action-focused information they needed, on time and on budget! Click here to see other happy clients who have used our online research service.


Here is some more information on online research, to help you decide if it’s right for you.

  • Click here to read guidelines on when and how to conduct online brand effectiveness research.
  • The MRS are running an online research conference in London on 3 June 2009 – “Making Online Research Even Better”. Click here for more details.

What Else Do We Do?

We don’t just do online research! We also do:

  • Desk research – ideal for building up a snapshot of a market size and trends, or your main competitors, whether you’re focusing on a single country or international markets.
  • Telephone interviews – great for consumer and b2b surveys where you need a representative sample.
  • Focus groups – useful for exploring questions such as what, why, when, how, where, and who. Focus groups are great for uncovering and exploring opinions, perceptions and experiences.

To find out more about any of the issues in this newsletter, or see how we can help with any of your research needs, click here to send me an email or call me on +44 (0) 1235 812 456.