Practical tips to help you move your research from offline to online

As a result of the COVID-19 restrictions placed on social contact around the world, companies conducting face-to-face research are urgently looking to move their research online. What should you consider?
13 May 2020
online research
Jon Puleston

Vice President, Innovation, Profiles Division

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Transitioning a face-to-face survey online may seem like quite a daunting process, and we have been receiving an unprecedented number of questions about how to go about it and the impact it might have on the data.

Whilst there is undoubtedly some work involved, and some challenges, in transitioning surveys online, done effectively there are some real benefits. In fact, many businesses have already made the move successfully, even before coronavirus became a factor, as developing markets across the world are opening up online research. Here businesses have found they can save money, conduct their research faster and more efficiently, and also improve and enhance their research.

What are the main challenges?

Matching samples and reaching the same cross section of people is probably the main concern for most researchers thinking of moving their face-to-face surveys online. So, let me share a few of our recommendations to help you navigate your transition.

1. Reaching the right audiences

This has historically been a major problem, due to lack of access to the internet in many countries across Asia, Latin America and Africa where online and offline audiences could be quite different. But over the last 5 years the situation has changed dramatically, with the mass adoption of smartphones and personal devices opening up access to online research and new mobile based sampling methods.

For example, 5 years ago less than half the countries in Asia had internet penetration above 50%, the threshold normally considered needed to reach representative samples with online research. Now, over 90% of countries do, with an average internet penetration of over 70% across Asia. This has lifted the barrier and allowed offline studies to be conducted online.

When targeting online respondents you can expect some obvious differences, but with careful and considered planning these can be addressed.

2. Adapting to a different style of survey

The main work involved in transitioning a survey online is in adapting to a different style of survey. It will usually require a bit of a re-write.

  • We recommend cutting down some of the questions, as the language of face-to-face surveys can be very wordy
  • Some of the questions may need to be altered slightly to be more online friendly
  • There are often opportunities to add more sophisticated logic and filtering, as well to optimize the survey for the online experience

Many of our clients treat the transition process as an opportunity to generally upgrade the survey experience by adopting more creative questioning techniques and adding icons and visuals. Our award-winning survey design team at Kantar are here to advise and help you do this specifically for your survey needs.

3. Cross calibrating offline and online data

Once you start to field your survey you will then need to think about cross calibrating your data. To do this effectively, it is really useful to understand all the underlying reasons why data might be different between the offline and online methodologies, as there are differences to do with the shift from human administered surveys to self-completion surveys.

We can help map out all the most common underlying factors that cause data differences and explain the scale of impact they may have on different types of questions using examples from real life projects.

Choose the right partner to help you

We have been gathering intelligence and expert knowledge from across Kantar to help you through this transition process. We can also share real use cases from clients who have successfully move their projects online. We are here to advise. Do not stop the research process because lockdown has taken away your offline channels. Let us help you connect digitally to your audiences and gather this important data online.

Join us for a live webinar, Wednesday 20 May 2020, for additional tips and expert advice. Learn more and register here.

For the complete guide to moving your offline surveys online, fill out the form below.

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