One of the primary research tools used to acquire data is the questionnaire. It is a simple and easily categorized way to gather information directly from customers. For optimal success, distribute a questionnaire to a systematic random sampling of your target audience, as opposed to a general audience.
You need to create a questionnaire that is simple to fill out and that will allow you to easily define the likes, needs, and buying habits of your audience. Here are some tips on how to create questionnaires to gain worthwhile market research:
- Keep it relatively brief, one to two pages at most.
- Provide clear instructions on how to answer the questions.
- Word each question in concise, clear language.
- Make sure each question concerns one topic only.
- Cover all options. If someone can have no opinion on a question, include "no opinion" as an answer.
- Ask general personal questions, such as age range, to determine a respondent's demographic category.
- Do not ask for names or other identifying information.
- Phrase questions about product preferences in an objective manner.
- Use different types of questions to garner both general and more specific responses. For example, you might use multiple-choice questions for most of the survey with a few short answer questions at the end.
- Include a space for comments.
- Make the questionnaire appealing and not daunting. People do not want a "homework assignment."
- If you have hired people to interview respondents, train them on how to maintain an objective manner. They should not pass judgment or comment on answers given.
The success of a questionnaire will depend largely on who fills it out. Therefore, before you take a random sampling of the market, make sure it's the right market for your business.
Note: It may be worthwhile to offer a small incentive for completed surveys. The reward should be something specifically appealing to your target audience in order to weed out greedy or unqualified respondents.