Comments to the article by Wayne Rash The Trouble with Market Research.
1. Website and Web Page based surveys are, primarily, used for website evaluation, visitors’ profile or e-shopping analysis.
Website visitors are invited to participate in a survey using “banner” type invitation, “pop-up” window or weblink.
The surveys are an effective and inexpensive method to obtain the attitudes and opinions of current customers or website visitors.
While the respondents can be randomly selected, they are, definitely, invited to opt in and, as a result, are self-selected.
The same, by the way, if true for any employee or customer surveys with already established contact list.
2. I absolutely agree, based on significant experience in the field, some and especially relatively big companies commission research to “support” their marketing strategies. They want to see what they “want to see”. This creates significant pressure on an independent research company because it wants to keep the business.
3. A more accurate and cost effective way to conduct relatively unbiased awareness, perception and usage studies is via email online surveys.
Respondents for the studies are recruited for participation through email invitation from, so called, web panels.
Web panels are very large, demographically and geographically representative, Internet-based panels for customer, business to business and, sometimes, employee surveys. They included millions of consumers, business owners and professionals. The panels are consistently supported and refreshed to reflect demographic changes and to ensure statistically representative sample.
As most surveys and research project require relatively small sample size (up to 1,000 completed response), the main reason to support and consistently refresh such large panels is to minimize the impact of, so called, “professional” or “self-selected” respondents. Each panel member can expect to participate in the surveys not more than 2-3 times a year. For this reason, participation reward system is also based on random drawings of various prizes depending on length, complexity and topic of each survey.