The problem of sample quality – and the resulting data quality – has been on nearly every marketing research-related conference agenda for the last five years or more. It seems to be an intractable challenge. And that’s not surprising when you consider the conditions for getting respondents to answer surveys. The pressure on consumers and business respondents increases daily, leaving everyone with little time and willingness to spend it on taking a survey or participating in a focus group. Add to that privacy concerns, more and more scams attacking businesses and individuals, and the (often) poorly designed and too long surveys we field, and who can blame them?
Businesses also face pressure to produce insights fast and at a lower cost. Because of this demand for lower and lower research costs, researchers often default to using the cheapest sample source available. If the sample price is low, that probably means that the incentive paid to the respondent is also low. Would you trust the data from a B2B respondent willing to accept a $3.00 incentive for 20 minutes of their time? Do you think that respondent took their time to read and answer each question fully? Unfortunately, low-priced samples rarely result in high-quality data.
Data quality increases when respondents are paid appropriate and fair incentives for their time. Respondents also develop a stronger relationship with the sample provider. All of which betters the sample and marketing research industry as a whole.
So, consider: are you really saving money by going with the lowest-priced sample provider?
Sampling is one area in research where you get what you pay for.
While going with a higher-priced sample solution may seem contradictory to your project and budget goals, it may save you significant time and money that can offset the additional cost. When you use a low-priced sample, you run the risk of:
Poor quality data, which you never want to deliver.
Extended field times because respondents are not interested in participating in lower incentive studies.
Up-charging when the provider has to go to additional sample partners mid-project, delaying the delivery timeline even more. Additionally, blending a new sample source in the middle of a project may not be a good idea.
Replacing respondents removed for bad quality, which means updating quotas, deleting data, and re-fielding.
Wasting your time combing through data to clean out data quality issues before you can use the data.
Time is money, and the bottom line is that if you want high-quality sample (and the high-quality data and insights you get from them), you need to choose better-quality sample providers. Yes, that will cost more at times. But can you really take the risk of a lower-cost solution and the possibility of spending more time and money on the issues listed above- or worse- losing a client because of this? Don’t be afraid to ask your sample provider what they are paying to the respondent as an incentive for taking your survey. When purchasing sample, always remember: You Get What You Pay For!
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