Profiling People: A Better Survey Experience Yields Better Data

better survey experience

This week we feature a guest post by the Managing Director of our sister company Maru/Blue, whose market communities are the solution for on-demand and ongoing access to relevant North American and UK audience segments.

“I wish surveys would be smarter and not ask me the same questions over and over again. That repetitive clicking of how old I am, where I live, what my demographic is, how much money I make. It’s kind of a nuisance.”

“The one thing that really bugs me about surveys is when I get a few minutes into them—five or ten minutes—and then it tells me I don’t qualify. I just feel like it’s a huge waste of my time, especially if I make it through the qualifying. You get halfway through and then it cuts out, and says they met their quota. It just seems like they don’t value my time.”

These people point to a common frustration for survey-takers: being disqualified after being asked a raft of demographic and qualifying questions. Data shows that 9 out of 10 people who are being routed through sample exchanges as river sample fail to qualify for a survey they are screened for. So they get asked to qualify for another study—and get asked basics like age, gender, race and region over and over again. That’s a terrible respondent experience. And it is completely unnecessary.

A well-profiled community allows you to target the right person with the right survey. Want to talk to left-handed men who BBQ? No problem. We have pre-screened for that. Need to reach small business owners who have liability insurance? Done.

I recently joined a community offered by an edgy alternative media outlet. I like their content and thought it would be fun to learn more. In joining, I was immediately asked a bunch of demographic profiling questions. No sooner had I completed the profiling questionnaire than I was sent to a router where I was again asked a bunch of demographic questions. Then I was asked a series of questions like: “Do you currently use any left-handed computer peripherals?”; “Did you personally design your company’s logo?”; and “Have you personally identified a potential acquisition target that your company bought?”.

better survey experience

When I didn’t qualify for any of those studies, I was routed to another company’s set of hopeless causes. Again, I was asked my gender, my age and my race. Again, I failed to qualify, because I had not sky-dived in the past three months, did not own a turtle, and had not installed an automated sprinkler system in the past six months. What made it all the worse, was that none of these studies had anything to do with the media outlet that got me to join their community. It was frustrating, and I quit.

It seemed natural to wonder—like the person who provided the first quote above—why did my profiling information not follow me? Why did I have to be asked the same question over and over again? Why was the system so dumb? The answer is simple. I was not a member of a community. I was not a known person. I was simply a piece of anonymous “sample” dumped into a router and treated as river sample. There is a better way.

We build communities that are full of people who have been deeply profiled. We know that taken together, they are representative of the population and provide reliable data. We collect a very rich set of information when a person joins our community, so that we can easily find people who, say, exercise regularly and who have asthma, or who have an Xbox and like a certain genre of game. One thing we have not profiled is whether people skydive. But we can.

We run a profiling service that, free of charge, can screen 30,000 to 50,000 people in a two-week window. The skydivers can then be directed to a survey about parachutes, knowing that they will qualify. They get to make their opinion known, and give us high quality information—because their survey experience is quick, easy and on target.

We know the people who answer our surveys are living, breathing humans who have many things competing for their attention. When we invite them to share their opinions with us, we don’t want to waste their valuable time. We want them to be able to do what they came to the community to do: share their point of view on topics that interest them.

To learn more about how treating people badly can lead to horribly misleading data, check out our whitepaper The High Cost of Cheap Sample. To better understand how unreliable river sample can be, read our whitepaper Wine, Cheese, Scotch and Sample: Know the Source. To learn more about how treating people like community members can lead to better data, read Boringly Reliable: Evidence of the Consistency of our Market Communities.

If you need to find a skydiver—or some other particular person—contact us about our profiling service. There is a better way.