Refining Your Respondents: Best Practices in Survey Screeners

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Refining Your Respondents: Best Practices in Survey Screeners

When survey planning, the first thing you should ask yourself is who am I targeting?  Am I trying to get middle age males who drive Fords in Colorado, Prime Members, podcast listeners, or supply chain managers? No matter who you are trying to reach, you need to ensure respondents meet the criteria they are looking for. This can be easily accomplished by adding screening questions to your survey.

By adding screening questions to the beginning of your survey, you can easily profile respondents and determine both who is and isn’t a match for the criteria you have for respondents. Screening questions act as a gate keeper of sorts to ensure you get good data quality.

Here are some of the best practices for using screening questions in your next survey.

Think of respondents going through a funnel

You want to start your screener with questions that are broad or general and progress to more detailed questions that narrow down your respondent pool to those that meet your studies’ criteria. That way you can qualify your respondents before they get to the questions you really want to ask them.

The shorter the better

In general, you don’t want your survey to be too long. If you ask 20 screeners before you get to your main survey, respondents are going to drop off. Screener questions should take 2 minutes or less to complete.  In terms of number of questions, think 7 or less.  By keeping your screener short, you won’t frustrate respondents who may get disqualified, and those who do qualify won’t be fatigued before they get to the main questions of the survey.

Put demographic question upfront

If you are qualifying your respondents based on some demographics, make sure that the necessary questions are at the beginning of your screening questions.

Avoid yes/no questions

No one wants to have inaccurate data due to leading questions, but yes/no screener questions tend to have a higher level of suggestibility, thus more leading. Try to stick to multiple choice, or other multiple answer options questions in your screener.

Watch your question order

When you are planning your screening questions, the order they are presented to respondents can be key difference between quality data and useless data. You don’t want to have responses to early questions affecting responses to later questions, like having awareness of brand questions before unaided awareness questions, or asking about purchase intent before awareness.  Be sure to start general and work towards the specific.

It’s important that screening questions are not overlooked or an afterthought in the survey development process.  They can be the key difference in whether you get useful, quality data or not.  If you need help with your screening questions, EMI can help.  Our team of professional can assist you in developing your screening questions so you get the best data back from your survey.  Click below to request a consultation.