[Tips]Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a paid survey?
A survey, or "market research survey", is a series of questions that are presented to either an individual, or group of individuals, to see how they perceive and respond to certain products or services. For instance, athletic equipment may be marketed towards a younger, physically active demographic, while luxury cars might be marketed towards a higher income demographic. Paid surveys are where the person taking the survey is paid as compensation for his/her time and opinion. Such compensation may be cash, prizes or sweepstakes.

What is a focus group?
A focus group is another type of survey where a group of individuals are invited to discuss a certain topic related to the company that sponsors the focus group. You may or may not know the point of the discussion and they are often hosted by a moderator that will guide the discussion. These focus groups can be held at a physical location or online and usually lasts between 30 minutes to 2 hours. The compensation is usually higher - $50+ (depending on the topic and time involved).

Why would businesses pay me?
Because your time is worth their money! Companies spend hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars on advertising for new and/or existing products and services. These "advertising campaigns" can sometimes be a complete waste of time and money if the company does not research the market that they are trying to capture. So it makes sense for a company to see how it's products or services are received by the public, before it invests the money and time on advertising.

How/what/when do I get paid?
Compensation from survey companies can range from $1 up to $75 per survey, and most surveys take around 6-15 minutes to complete. There are some companies that offer points for completing a survey, and those points can then be redeemed for gift certificates, merchandise, cash and prizes. No matter what the compensation, all legitimate survey companies will tell you up front, before you begin the survey, what the compensation will be. There is no limit to how many surveys you can take - the more you take, the more you earn. Payment is usually made through check, PayPal, or directly to bank account.

Am I eligible/suitable for paid surveys?
Paid surveys are suitable for EVERYONE over 13 (18 for some sites). When you register with a market research company, you will typically fill out a profile of your demographics, which is then used to determine what surveys and focus groups you will be invited to participate in. Certain demographics may receive more invitations than other, but in the end, the more sites you sign up with the more surveys you will receive.

What kinds of questions are asked on paid surveys?
Questions usually involve your opinion on typical everyday products like soft drinks, cars, software, shampoos, etc. Personal questions such as income are usually not asked. Even when they are, a 'prefer not to say' option is included.

Will I be ever required to pay to take an online survey?
No! You will NEVER be asked to pay ANYTHING. Legitimate research companies will NEVER ask for an 'entry fee' because they earn their money from businesses, not you.

Why should I take paid surveys rather than paid-to-click/online investment/affiliate selling etc?
Paid surveys is easy, risk-free, flexible and TOTALLY FREE. Now the same can't be said for any other methods of earning money online. Paid surveys strikes the perfect balance between being able to earn a reasonable amount and spending as little time as possible, all for the cost of nothing. Other methods usually involves significant time commitment or risking your money, or both. With paid surveys, you have no pressure whatsoever, and earn only when you want to.

I heard that paid survey programs are scams - Is it true?
As with anything online, there are scammers out there. Remember, legitimate paid survey companies will NEVER ask you for money. All sites reviewed by SurveysCenter are legitimate, paying and totally free.

[Marketing Research]How to Create an Online Survey

Looking to create an online survey?

Designing and creating online surveys can be tricky. The following tips should help you create effective web surveys:

1.Use survey screeners upfront - don't frustrate your panelists by having them fill out your survey, only to find out they don't qualify.
2.Provide clear, concise instructions. Use terms like "select one", "select all that apply", etc.
3.Provide a progress bar - your panelists will appreciate knowing how far they've gone into your survey. This reduces drop-out rates.
4.Be honest about how survey length - if you say your survey takes 15 minutes to complete, when it actually takes 25, you increase respondent drop-out rates.
5.Keep in mind that survey respondents tend to tire after 15 minutes - don't make your surveys overly lengthy, but if you must, then provide exercises and games as rest stops.
6.Design your survey for your audience. For example, teen studies may require exciting visuals, and business to business studies may require creative or larger incentives for survey participation.
7.Web-technologies such as Flash are great online surveys enhancers, but be mindful that not all surfers have these programs installed on their machines. Provide a link to a website where a user can download this software if you plan to use it.
8.Data collection methods such as telephone reminders increase the number of touch points with potential panelists, thereby increasing the chances of survey participation.
9.Make your survey relevant and engaging. Survey panelists that find this is missing from your survey, may not feel a need to participate next time.
10.Finally, ask yourself: would I enjoy taking this web survey? If the answer is "no", you might wish to revisit some of the above points.

Ready to create your survey? Why not try filling out somebody else's first. Experience is the best teacher!

[Marketing Research]Sample Survey Questions

The type of question asked during a survey can and will be about a number of different things.

Here is a sample of the type of survey questions you can expect to be asked:
Example: If you own a business, how many new employees did you hire this year?
Economic Issues
Example: In your opinion, should interest rates rise?
Example: Are you currently enrolled in a post-secondary institution?
Example: Did you vote in the 2004 federal election?
Foreign Policy
Example: Do you think we should tighten cross-border security to Canada?
Government Institutions
Example: Do you think the FBI is an effective government agency?
Health Issues
Example: Are you concerned about obesity in young children?
International Affairs
Example: Does the fear of terrorism keep you from doing things?
News Media
Example: Does CNN provide a non-biased news perspective?
Personal Beliefs
Example: Do you consider yourself a follower of the Christian faith?
Social Issues
Example: Do you think marijuana has a negative effect on society?
Example: When shopping online, are you concerned about privacy issues?

[Marketing Research]Information about Survey Sampling

A population is an entire set of subjects
A sample is a group of people that represents a population.

There are two types of samples: good samples and bad samples.

Bad Samples
1.Voluntary Response Samples - sample has choice to respond to survey or not.
2.Convenience Samples - sample chosen based on convenience.
3.Biased Samples - sample chosen with ulterior motive.

Good Samples
1.Probability Samples - sample chosen by chance probability.
2.Simple Random Sample - equal chance of selection for sample. Can be done by labeling each member of population (ex. 001 - 100) and using a statistical table to select participants.
3.Systematic Random Samples - sample chosen by, for example, randomly selecting a number (let's say 3), so every 3rd person would be drawn.
4.Stratified Random Sample - sample chosen by dividing the population into groups (ex. by sex) and then doing a simple random sample on the group.
5.Cluster Sample - sample chosen from a segment of the population (ex. by election districts).

Problems with Sampling
1.Undercoverage - not enough sample participants for study
2.No response - response not high enough
3.Response bias - ex. participants can't remember what happened, and cannot therefore answer survey questions accurately.
4.Wording effect - can lead to misunderstanding question, which can also lead to bias.

Lurking Variables
Some survey-takers think that if they intentionally provide false and silly information during a survey, the final results will be skewed. This is untrue. If assessed properly, results that are "off the map" are simply labeled as "lurking variables" and because of their strong influence on x and y, they are simply not included in the final study results. Therefore by answering surveys honestly, your voice truly will be heard and the results of he study you participated in will help shape tomorrow.

[Marketing Research]23 Advantages of Online Surveys

1.Multimedia advantage - pictures, audio, video, and simulated shopping can all be incorporated
2.Higher response rates versus other surveying methods (such as through direct mailings)
3.Statistical compilation is often in real time - survey results can be monitored throughout the time the survey is online
4.Fast - final reporting results are delivered within a few days versus weeks
5.Online surveys eliminate interviewer bias or error - the survey is delivered in exactly the same manner in all instances for all panellists
6.Quality of final data is higher - this is due to convenience for panellists, the ability to re-read questions, etc.
7.Time constraints for panelists eliminated - a user can take as much time needed to fully complete the survey
8.Easily survey consumers worldwide - geographic location of panellists does not impact the efficiency nor quality of the research data
9.Paid surveys allow for longer and more detailed information gathering versus surveying methods such as non-incentivized telephone surveys
10.Online surveys are taken at a convenient time for the respondent, not market research company
11.Most types of studies can easily be conducted online, including employee satisfaction surveys, company satisfaction monitoring, brand name evaluation, advertising research, competitive analysis, etc.
12.Top-level internet security and encryption protect panellist data
13.Privacy protection - respondents remain anonymous; privacy and confidentiality are protected
14.Online surveys are a non-interruption surveying method. Panelist receives an e-mail notification for an online surveys, after they have agreed to such notifications from the online market research company
15.Help desks which offer live assistance, can provide needed customer support for panellists during a survey
16.Online survey methods are increasing rapidly in use, versus telephone surveys which have a dramatically declining response rate
17.Data compilation is efficient - household information is easily stored and maintained
18.Large majority of North Americans have internet access, which makes for an accurate household representation
19.Speciality online panels of professionals such as technology specialists, healthcare personnel, and youth, make targeted groups of demographics easy to survey
20.Online surveys, because of their efficiency, reduce the time to market for new products and services, potentially meaning more money for the companies hiring the market research firms to conduct research on their behalf
21.Millions of North Americans are registered members of market research companies, meaning access to an accurate population sample in a variety of demographics
22.Cost is lower than other survey methods. Internet panel survey costs are often only a couple dollars each, versus $20 for telephone surveys
23.With a societal trend for having everything "online" and digitized, internet research panels truly are part of the wave of the future

[Marketing Research]Market Research Reduces Risk

Market research plays a very important and prominent role in marketing. By assessing the needs and wants of consumers, organizations obtain information about their target market, which allows them to target goods and services more effectively. By seeking both marketing problems and opportunities, market research can point marketers in the right direction.

Becoming educated and learning more about their target market answers many questions.

Although the answers market research provides are not necessarily 100% accurate, it reduces the marketers' risk. Think about it: would you want to introduce a new toy to children without having the slightest clue what their reaction will be? By surveying these children, you would obtain a general feel for their attitudes towards the toy, and by asking the correct questions, you could also discover modifications and improvements.

Market research is simply a supplement used in marketing procedures. It isn't practical to survey groups everytime a difficulty or question arises, but instead, it educates the marketer into making better marketing decisions.

By being a part of an online survey, one can then see how survey participants directly influence the products and services of tomorrow. Survey results are taken very seriously by marketers so voice your opinion today!

[Marketing Research]Determining Sample Size for Online Surveys

How to determine sample size for online surveys varies hugely.

Factors on this decision include budget constraints, sample availability, time available, etc. Obviously a sample of 1000 individuals will produce more accurate survey results versus a sample of only 100 people. This is simply because generally, a larger group of people will more accurately reflect the attitudes of an even larger group, simply because there is more individual variety, and this therefore will yield a larger variance in answers.

Now, admittedly this is a general and over-simplified answer. Complicated statistics on sample sizes, confidence intervals, and statistical validity on how all of these relate would better explain how this all works.

A similar question was posted on Infosurv's website, and the following response was provided:
"To achieve statistically valid results, we recommend that a statistically significant sample of n=400 completed surveys be obtained for online market research surveys. This will provide statistical validity at the 95% confidence level with +/- 5% confidence interval. For clients on a tighter budget, we sometimes recommend a sample of n=200 completed surveys which provides statistical validity at the 95% confidence level with +/- 7% confidence interval. In any event, a reliable sample source is very important, as is an unbiased random sampling methodology." http://www.infosurv.com/blog/2005/01/market-research-survey-questions.html#comments

"n" in this case simply represents the number of people comprising the sample.

As you can see then, there needs to be a decent sized sample in order to eliminate as much bias as possible. This does not mean that it is necessary to conduct a survey with 100,000 participants in order to get accurate answers.

What does this mean for you? When there is a chance to win cash or product as a survey participant, keep in mind that your chances of winning are decent. The chances of winning the jackpot in a national lottery are usually more than 1 in 10,000,000, and you must purchase a ticket, which involves a cost. You could very well be offered a chance to win a plasma tv worth $5000 for 15 minutes of your time, when there are only a few hundred other participants. What are you waiting for?

[Marketing Research]Marketing Research Glossary

The following is a glossary of commonly using marketing research terms - it is by no means complete, but merely provides an overview on marketing terminology.

ACORN - Acronym for "A Classification of Residential Neighborhoods". Used to classify neighborhoods using variables such as demographics, housing types, etc.
Ad Hoc Research - A special type of research specifically for a particular client, or for a particular market.
Armchair Research - Using existing information from sources such as publications, for research information purposes. Secondary information source.
Attitude - The way in which people think and behave towards each other and things.
Average - A mathematical term that is used to represent a number that has been calculated by adding several figures together, and dividing the total by the number of figures added.
Closed Question - A question with only a yes/no possibility for a response. Ex. Do you have a mortgage?
Competitor Research - Research conducted into the existing or potential competition of an organization. Areas explored include competitor's strengths and weaknesses, customer base, and competition reaction.
Consumer - A person or organization who purchases goods and services.
Consumer Panel - A group of consumers who provide feedback on the products/services they have used in order to facilitate better product development or new advertising initiatives.
Consumer Research - Research conducted to identify why consumers buy goods or use services, and what their future buying habits may be.
Consumer Survey - A survey conducted to identify existing and potential demand for a product or service, be it new or existing.
Control Group - A group of people which is used as a cross-reference check for a sample group.
Extrapolation - The process of applying primary research results to the entire potential market in order to find the market size for a product or service of a potential market.
Focus Group - A group of people who are brought together to informally discuss a market-research question. These individuals are usually contacted by a marketing research company, on behalf of another company.
Margin of Error - The number of errors acceptable in a survey. Usually expressed as a percentage.
Market Area - A geographical area representing a particular market. For example, an area where the Internet is used.
Market Development - The search for new markets for a product or service, using a method of information gathering.
Marketer - A person or company that engages in marketing activities.
Marketing Research - Research conducted in the name of producing better marketing results. Includes market research, consumer research, and product research.
Multiple Choice Question - A type of question which lists different types of answers. Usually limited to 5, so as not to overwhelm the respondent.
NDP - Acronym for "New Product Development"
Open Questions - Questions in which no options for response are given, as many responses are possible. These types of questions are used to facilitate new ideas for an organization. Ex. Who is your favorite politician?
Opinion Leader - A person who's opinions particularly influence others in society. Examples include celebrities and politicians.
Opinion Leader Research - Research conducted to understand the opinions and attitudes of opinion leaders.
Opinion Poll - Asking a sample group of people what their opinion is on a particular topic, so as to guess the opinions of the whole population. Sample group is usually selected using the SRS (simple random sample) method.
Panel - A group of people (usually consumers) who provide feedback on marketing problems.
Pantry Check - A survey method whereby a sample of households tracks the purchases they have made during a given period of time. Recently the introduction of wireless barcode scanners has made this process less tedious, and more convenient for households.
Personal Surveys - A one-on-one, in-person survey between a respondent and interviewer. Popular in public places such as shopping malls.
Poll - Asking a group of the population how they feel about a particular topic.
Population - The number of people who live in any given area including a neighborhood, city, State, country, etc.
Postal Survey - A survey method in which a printed questionnaire is produced and is sent by mail to respondents for them to fill in and send back. Postal surveys traditionally have a very low response rate.
Sample - noun A small group which is studied to represent a larger group.verb To ask a representative group of people questions to find out what the reactions of a larger group would be.
Sample Size - The number of people used for a survey.
Sampling - The testing of reactions in a small group of people, used to represent the attitudes of a much larger population.
Sampling Error - The difference in results between what a small sample of people think and what the results would be if the entire population were surveyed.
Sampling Point - The place at which sampling is conducted.
Scale Question - A question where a scale is used for purposes of rating something. Ex. Would you rate your health as excellent, average, or poor?
Semi-Structured Questionnaire - A questionnaire often used in business to business research where a large range of responses are anticipated. They include the use of a combination of open questions, multiple choice, true false questions, and scale questions.
Structured Questionnaire - A questionnaire used in large surveys where specific answers are anticipated. They include the use of multiple choice and scale questions.
Telephone Surveys - A survey conducted via telephone where potential respondents are called by an interviewer to answer questions.
Unstructured Question - A questionnaire used for technical/specialist markets where in-depth questions are asked with the intention of accumulating a large variety of responses.

**A more thorough marketing research glossary can be found at Quirk's Marketing Research Review.

[Marketing Research]What is Marketing Research?

Market research is the process of gathering and analyzing information to help businesses identify consumer needs and wants to form proper advertising and marketing decisions. It is also often referred to as "consumer research" as it asks questions about the business environment including competitors, economic trends and market structure.

Market research is conducted using sample surveys, opinion polling, focus groups and by using other techniques to measure and study consumer markets. These can be conducted online, by telephone, mail, and in person.

Companies including advertising agencies, and specialized market research organizations provide market research services. Oftentimes large businesses and government agencies conduct their own market research.