Online surveying is cool! But the telephone is not dead.

In spite of what you may have heard, the phone is still very much alive and plays a critical role in mixed-mode data collection.

Much marketing research has shifted from phone to online data collection as researchers seek ways to reduce costs, but the “hoped for” seamless transition from telephone to online only surveys has not happened completely.

In fact, the current environment of a true mixed-mode data collection of online, live interviewer to cell phones and landlines, and interactive voice response (IVR) is now the sweet spot in research design.

Online is easy and cheap, but its disadvantages of delivering hard-to-reach  demographics can be overcome by incorporating the telephone with live interviewer.  Phoning can deliver precise operation, intelligently targeting respondents and low response rate subsets like minorities and younger respondents.  When you add phone, you can expand your reach, attain quota faster, and reduce the need to weight data.

In defining the data collection methodology, many researchers limit THEMSELVES to whatever method they have in-house or have access to, rather than the methodology that best fits the needs of the client’s needs in the study.  Often, the client AND the market research suffers, and many times the researcher won’t disclose this to the client.

Why on earth would they do this?  Many researchers use third party contractors for telephone data collection and, whether they will admit it or not, know the quality of data collection (when outsourced) can be of lesser quality.  Also, juggling the process of mixed-mode data collection through multiple vendors and multiple processes in multiple location can be daunting for some researchers who have spent most of their career always subcontracting out the data collection.  Some are just not up to the challenge, and rising costs for out-sourced work is becoming more and more a factor.

Consider this.  When the data collection relies exclusively on a single data collection method, respondents are not engaged in the way they might prefer, and choosing only one method may lower the response rate of the project overall.

Here are a few market segments to consider:

  • More than 40 percent of the U.S. population over 65, and roughly 20 percent of minority, rural and lower income groups DO NOT have internet access.
  • Although internet adoption is rising among seniors 65 and older, 60 percent in those with a high school education or LESS DO NOT go online.
  • Increasingly, more people are accessing online surveys from their smartphones.  However, while 77 percent of seniors 65 and older own cellphones, only 18 PERCENT own smartphones and are much less likely to respond to an online survey from that device.

DON’T let the mode of data collection OR your market researcher CONSTRAIN the impact and depth of your insights by not incorporating a mixed-mode data collection approach.

At ShapardResearch, we provide mixed-mode data collection through ALL in-house resources, including our own call center, and can control the entire research process from A to Z.  Neither the challenges nor costs of mixed-mode data collection prohibits us from providing the best possible research products and services to our clients.

Some of our clients are already using online data collection internally of certain populations that they have easy access to, such as their employees.  With our internal data collection methods, we’re able to complement their current research strategies by providing IVR or live interviewer data collection methods to their harder-to-reach populations, such as customers without emails addresses.

The phone is still alive in research and using firms who can handle mixed-mode data collection is the best way to achieve great market and consumer insights.