[GRIT COMMENTARY] Need to get your research rolling? No need to reinvent the wheel!
2016 Q1-Q2 GRIT Report commentary by Will Robinson, Vice President of Corporate and Product Development for Research Now, sharing his thoughts on the current state of the market research industry.
The most recent GRIT survey lists automation as an “emerging trend” that can improve the research experience.
So this begs the question, if automation is “new”, then what have researchers been doing all this time? Or the better question might be, “what have researchers been re-doing?”
Create, Refine, Repeat
Unfortunately, we’ve been approaching every research project as its own unique creation. Instead of starting with robust, well-designed questionnaires from previous studies, we’ll re-design and re-write whole surveys. Instead of reviewing and improving upon previously defined sampling parameters, we’ll re-create new audiences with highly custom screeners. And that means we’ll process the resulting data again and again with no sound way to meaningfully compare results between studies.
The great news is that automation allows researchers to improve the quality of their research while spending less time on the process – which means they can spend more time generating quality insights for their constituents.
Putting the Power of Automation to Work
Where can automation be most helpful? Here are a few applications:
- Survey Design: Developing a high quality, respondent-friendly questionnaire allows researchers to have greater confidence in the integrity of the research. Combining this up-front thoughtfulness with a templated survey approach (where 95% of the survey stays the same for each study) permits researchers to quickly re-field similar studies and use the resulting data for normative analysis, which isn’t possible when running “snowflake surveys” (i.e. each one is different). Academic researchers have done this for a long time, using scales that have been calibrated for reliability and validity over multiple studies.
- Sampling: Researchers can lean on their sample providers to help craft representative targeting parameters that can be re-purposed for future studies. By defining a repeatable audience type, many sample providers can leverage proprietary routing technology to reduce field times and increase response rates. Researchers can also use certain online sample providers to recruit people to participate in online qualitative sessions in real-time, which eliminates the need for reminder notices and reduces the risk of no-shows that are commonly associated with traditional qualitative methods.
- Data Visualization: Many tools exist today to help researchers quickly generate charts, infographics, and other visuals to make sense of raw survey or transcript data. Their ease of use eliminates wasted time on low value-add data processing to uncover potential insights. These tools are a great way to produce high-quality visualization and easily distribute results to research consumers, like brand managers and marketers.
Another Tool In Our Research Belt
Of course, automation can’t be used for all types of research projects, but it is quite effective for routine, recurring research where benchmarking is important (like concept, brand, and creative/ message testing). When used properly, many automation platforms offer a very cost-effective way to execute fast and focused projects to get a quick read on an issue.
The results of the GRIT survey suggest many researchers are either currently using automation tools or considering them for future use. And that’s a great thing for market research.