Hi all! It’s Nicole and Katie. We’re taking over the blog today to give you the low-down on research options. Namely, surveys and focus groups. When should you use one vs. the other? What are the advantages? Disadvantages?
Let’s jump in.
If you want to reach a large, geographically diverse audience, a survey is the way to go.
- It allows people to respond on their own time and from their own location, and takes less time investment than a focus group.
- The format can easily be customized to your own design and questions. Keep it short, though–under 20 questions is a good rule.
- It can be distributed online—we do our own annual client survey this way—or in printed form via mail, like the Nielsen TV surveys you may have received in the past.
- Survey results are easier to quantify and analyze than focus group responses. Online survey instruments often have automated statistics and coding tools that help you run data on large respondent pools.
- You have the option to make responses anonymous or not, and online participants can forward the survey to others, helping to increase your reach.
- Participants aren’t swayed by other respondents like they might be in a focus group.
- Though you have opportunities for follow up after a survey, you lose the “in the moment” discussion that often produces the best insights in a focus group setting.
If you’re looking for insights based on real-time discussion, consider a focus group.
- Participants are carefully screened and recruited to ensure they are part of the target market. A focus group is most effective when there are 6-10 participants who all actively participate in the discussion.
- Clients often are able to watch the discussion behind a one-way mirror or on a TV screen and witness participants’ emotions and thoughts first hand.
- The moderator has the ability to direct the conversation to improve the quality of input and clarify any confusion.
- Direct quotes from respondents’ are especially insightful and can be used as testimonials.
- Focus groups are particularly useful during the exploratory phase of a new product or service to gather insights before a product actually launches.
Keep these challenges in mind when considering a focus group.
- One or two dominant personalities can sway the conversation and make the results biased.
- Some people feel uncomfortable talking openly and honestly in front of a group.
Research is the first step to any effective marketing campaign, public relations plan or product launch. Now that you know more about your research options, dive in and discover how people think/feel about your organization.