Not Much of Your Time, Just a Quick Survey

By: Nicole Hunter.  Student Number: 212411883

Deakin email address: WordPress username: nicole3806

We have all had those phone calls, stating ‘this is just a survey’, ‘I’m not selling you anything’, ‘it won’t take much of your time’, so how reliable are these telephone market research surveys? – Well the answer is, they are as reliable as the design and execution of the survey.

Market research is essential for any organisation to understand where their marketing focus and marketing dollars should be directed (Iacobucci, 2014).  In terms of market research there are many types of market research, including qualitative such as interviews, focus groups, observations and ethnographies, and quantitative such as surveys, experiments, and scanner data analysis (Iacobucci, 2014).  However, for the purposes of this blog, we will be focusing on quantitative market research in the form of telephone surveys.

Surveys have been conducted as a market research tool, for many years, with various levels of success, pre-internet days these were often mailed out surveys, or in person surveys, in some cases these types of surveys are still conducted, depending on the core group of focus, however the response rate of a mail out survey is generally around 20% (and falling in recent years), with email surveys response rate around 25% (and increasing response rates have been seen in recent years) (Fluids Surveys, 2014).

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In comparison, research suggests telephone surveys have a response rate of around 8-12% (Fluid Surveys, 2014), this number is rather low, and suggests that telephone surveys may not be the most useful market research tool, particularly when being used as a decision tool regarding  where to place valuable marketing dollars, however telephone surveys can be extremely useful tools in market research when conducted correctly and can result in far greater data usefulness then their email survey counterparts (Glantz, 2015), here are 3 tips for making the most out of telephone surveys.

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  • Detail the desired outcome of the survey

To begin with questions need to be tailored, not to necessarily ‘tailor the answer’ but need to be specific. Closed questions such as ‘do you like product X?’ with a yes or no answer, may lead to 2 different question sets, a yes answer may lead to questions such as ‘why do you like this product?’, ‘how much would you be prepared to pay for this product?’ and so on.  An initial answer of ‘No’, may lead to questions such as ‘what were the main features you didn’t like?’, ‘what could be changed to enhance the product to your liking?’ etc.  Having questions tailored will result in data that can be categorised, and analysed in a more robust and straight forward manner (Suttle, 2015).


  • Know your potential respondent population

The potential respondent population is usually from a customer data base obtained         by the organisation, it is essential this data base is analysed and reviewed prior to          commencing telephone surveys, if analysis of customer database is not able to be   conducted, then calling a random selection is recommend, however the number of            calls in random selection will need to be increased significantly, to enable a positive    response rate (Hopper, 2010).


  • Honest Communication

Honest communication in any situation is generally recommended, and in a telephone survey this is also the case.  Stating at the beginning of the conversation how long the survey will take, 5 minutes of 15 minutes.  Also stating the survey will be anonymous, and the purpose the survey – is the survey purpose to understand the market for a new product or to redevelop an existing product?  Being honest with the potential respondent, creates a sense of trust in the very first sentence, which is likely to result in greater data integrity, particularly if the questions being asked of the respondent are of a personal nature such as income, marital status etc. (Suttle, 2015).

These are only 3 simple tips on getting the best out of your telephone survey, there are many more actions that can be undertaken to get the best out of any survey, be that telephone online, in person or a combination.  The main goal of any survey is to get useable data that can be analysed and synthesized in order to direct marketing decisions correctly.

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Fluid Surveys, 2014, ‘Response Rate Statistics for Online Surveys’, retrieved 15 April 2016,

Glantz, D. 2015, ‘Telephone vs Online Surveys: Which is better?’, retrieved 13 April 2016

Hopper, J. 2010, ‘How to Conduct a Telephone Survey for Gold Standard’, retrieved 15 April 2016

Iacobucci, D,  2014, Marketing Management (MM4), South-Western, Cengage Learning, Mason.

Survey Gizmo, 2013, ‘Telephone Surveys and Lessons you can Learn from Them’, retrieved 15 April 2016,

Suttle, R. 2015, ‘How do I conduct a telephone survey?’, retrieved 15 April; 2016,


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