One of the great benefits of Lab42 is our ability to hone in and reach your target market, no matter how specific they may be. Often times, we find that our clients aren’t necessary looking for respondents that fall into standard demographic and psychographic categories. We found the solution by including qualifying questions at the beginning of every online survey we write. We use the term ‘qualifying questions’ so frequently around Lab42 that we sometimes forget clients and other survey writers don’t know what we’re talking about.
What are Qualifying Questions?
Qualifying questions are the unbiased questions at the beginning of surveys which weed out the survey takers we aren’t looking for. If the survey respondent selects an answer to the qualifying question that falls into the target market we are looking for, they are able to continue taking the survey. However, if the answer they select is not the answer we are looking for, the survey respondent is terminated and cannot continue taking the survey.
Qualifying questions can be demographic questions or questions that terminate people with the wrong purchasing habits or interests.
When should Qualifying Questions be used?
If you know are only administering your online survey to your exact target audience, then you do not need qualifying questions. However, from my experience, this is rarely the case.
If you are emailing your survey out to friends and family, publishing your survey on your website, or launching your online survey on Facebook and Twitter, you should use qualifying questions to ensure you are only obtaining insights from the people you actually want.
Lab42 obtains respondents for online surveys via applications within social networks. Since we obtain respondents for market research studies among a large variety of target markets, we must always use qualifying questions. For example, we might only want to survey dog owners, iPhone owners, or people that have been to the doctor in the past six months.
How do I write a good Qualifying Question?
A good qualifying should not lead the survey respondent in any way. People should not have any idea which answer will allow them to continue instead of being terminated. Here are some examples of good and bad questions:
BAD: Do you own a dog? Yes, No
GOOD: Which of the following types pets do you own? Cat, Dog, Hamster, Bird, Reptile, Other, None of the above
BAD: Have you been to the doctor in the past six months? Yes, No
GOOD: When was the last time you visited your doctor? Within the last 3 months, 3-6 months ago, 6-9 months ago, 9-12 months ago, 1 – 2 years ago, Over 2 years ago
BAD: Have you ever purchased a smart phone? Yes, No
GOOD: Which of following items have you purchased in the past year? Laptop, Tablet Computer, iPod, Portable Speakers, Smart Phone, Cell Phone (No internet capabilities)
Once in a while, you come across a respondent who clicks every possible answer just to ensure that they are invited to complete the survey. This process, called straight-lining, results in poor data quality in your final results. At Lab42, our researchers take extra effort to ensure that these respondents are terminated when they answer the questions in this way. We do this by setting up logic that, if all the answers are chosen by the respondent, terminates the survey taker before they can take part in the full survey.
Market research is built on obtaining valid data, and asking the right qualifying questions for your target market is a very important first step.