December Lunch & Learn session covered ins and outs of audience research
By Rebecca Stauffer, PDA
research projects fall down in the thinking and planning stages,Ē says Lou Ann
Sabatier, principal for Sabatier Consulting. During AM&Pís December Lunch
& Learn session, "Reader Surveys: Finding Out What Your Audience Wants,Ē Sabatier recommended asking a series of
questions throughout the survey process to ensure success.
on her firmís work with associations and survey research, Sabatier says
preparation on the front end can save publishing teams from failed research
1. What information do you want?
first step in developing an effective readership survey begins with spelling
out the objectives. Is the survey for marketing-advertising purposes? To
analyze the audience? To determine brand perception? Knowing precisely what
information you want will help you craft more precise, more meaningful
effective survey should have clear directions with questions in a logical
order. The first questions should also hook the reader. One good strategy is to
start with easy questions before moving on to harder ones.
2. Who is the information for?
it for the editorial team, marketing-advertising, accounting, or executives?
Different groups will have different needs. Knowing the group will help you
make the end product more understandable and more useful for the group.
findings from your research should be presented clearly and accurately. Provide
a complete summary of all the results and then present your conclusions and
interpretations. Sabatier recommends presenting the summary and conclusions
live or via a webcast, followed by sending out a PDF report with more details
to all involved parties.
3. Who is providing the information?
the survey be aimed at existing members? Prior members? Members in a certain
geographical area? An effective survey is aimed at a targeted group. Avoid the
wide-net approach when you have specific fish in mind.
to go where your readers are. If you want responses from groups that tend to be
digital savvy, work in that medium. Use your analytics to target the survey
with the most efficiency.
the design of the survey can impact response rates. Tailor the survey to your
audience. Whatís the best time of day to send it? How long are they likely to
spend with it? What type of questions are they most likely to answer?
privacy of your respondents should be assured and a statement to this effect
clearly seen on the survey. When presenting the data, keep responses anonymous.
4. Whatís the best research approach or
the answers to the preceding questions is vital to deciding which methodology
is best. Sabatier says she worked with a cancer association that had
significant success with focus groups via their Facebook page instead of a
you settle on a questionnaire, Sabatier says sheís found surveys sent by mail
tend to generate twice as many responses as online surveys.
ensure the survey is effective, pretest it with at least 12 individuals who
have not been part of the planning process. Ask them if the questions are clear
and if the length of time needed for completion is appropriate.
every stage of the process, ensure that the proper sample is selected and that
information is recorded and analyzed correctly. Sabatier recommends treating
the data as if your job is on the line. Check. Check again. And then check
ensure you can accurately report on the methodology ó which is important to
prove the veracity of the results ó keep records of every step. Keep records of
all information pertinent to the survey, such as sponsors, everyone conducting
it, the purpose, the actual questionnaire, sample design, sample data
collection, special scoring, etc.
5. What is your budget and time
out your survey plan and methodology early to ensure you can allocate proper
resources. The typical survey takes two to three months; make sure you wonít
have to cut corners or cut your timeline later on.
considering expenses, determine if youíll use incentives. Sabatier finds that
incentives can help increase survey responses, however, she recommends avoiding
awards like iPads or $100 gift cards. Instead, sheís seen success with offering
free conference registrations and similar job- or profession-related prizes.
Stauffer is managing editor of the Parenteral Drug Associationís membership
magazine, the PDA Letter.
Association Media & Publishing thanks Rebecca for graciously volunteering
to cover this Lunch & Learn for our members who were unable to attend.