Whatever type of survey research you’re doing, it goes without saying that your success is entirely dependent on your sample—the more productive the sample, the more profitable your project will be. Whether you purchase sample or work with a client provided list, you can improve the productivity of the sample you’re dealt with strategic audience targeting.
Strategic audience targeting is accomplished by creating processes to prep your sample before you activate it. The additional time it takes to prepare the list will be more than offset by productivity gains.
You’ll want to start by confirming geographic regions, demographics, opt-ins, and DNCs. Next, establishing basic rules for sampling design, like tracking responses daily by quota attainment will significantly improve your ability to complete quota requirements. Monitoring quota attainment will give a good indication of how productive your sample is and alert you to the possibility of needing more sample—or if your initial survey mode is online, adding a phone survey mode.
After quota has been achieved for a given demographic set, you should remove potential participants matching that demographic profile from the sample pool. Parsing unnecessary sample data will let you focus your efforts on the slow-to-respond audience.
When you need to fill quota quickly, nothing comes close to phone surveying. Contacting participants by phone lets you selectively fill gaps in audience representation or more broadly to ensure best possible coverage. For efficient phone-based surveying, you’ll want to have calling rules in your sampling design that specifies how each phone number will be dialed over the project fielding period. For instance:
- Assign numbers to “day parts” to call at different times on subsequent attempts—if they don’t answer at 7 PM Monday, you probably want to exclude any 7 PM time time-slot.
- Assign a set number of call attempts before retiring the number.
- Set a threshold limit to turn off the rules so calling can be escalated if you need to fill quota rapidly.
Auto-dialing is a productivity booster, and a well-prepared sample should allow you to use of predictive dialing. Predictive dialing software anticipates interviewer availability and dials accordingly and then transfers calls to interviewers when the respondent answers. You can also automate individual candidate screening using IVR so that only qualified respondents are passed to interviewers.
Taking time to develop a strategy and prepare your sample will let you create a very effective sample management process. The payoff will be improved efficiency and good, representative results.