Survey length is a constant struggle for event marketing research.
If your survey is too long, participants will be reluctant to finish the survey, or even start it in the first place. You may be forced to offer an incentive to get consistent responses. Additionally, consumers may become complacent and not give the full thought required for each question, which can result in straight lining (consistent responses to every question) and other unacceptable issues with your data.
It would be nice if it was as simple as writing a shorter survey, but it can be difficult to ensure you are covering all of the needs of the research, as well as the requests of your event marketing client. That being said, a number of steps can be taken to ensure that survey length is not an issue once you are in field.
Asking consumers to opt-in to additional questions
The first option you have is to include an optional extender in your survey. After covering an initial set of questions, you can insert a question that asks consumers if they would be willing to answer a few additional questions.
This ensures that those that participate in the longer version of your survey are those most interested, and most likely to give accurate responses to each question.
This still leaves a number of problems. You can’t guarantee that enough event marketing participants will answer the additional questions, and you introduce additional potential biases. Identifying what groups may be more likely to answer the additional questions and controlling for that will become a necessary step in your analysis.
Running multiple, random surveys
Alternatively, you can segment your event marketing survey into multiple, different versions, and randomize which survey your participants get each time.
You’ll need to be sure to include some basic questions across each section, so that you have a way to compare across results. However, with this method, you can ensure that your survey is never too long. You will need to substantially increase your data collection to compensate for the split.
PortMA ran an event marketing study that split the survey into three separate sections, which resulted in each version being fewer than 10 questions. This was great for the events, as they were fast paced, and people were unlikely to stay and listen for very long.
That being said, the triple data collection effort was a burden. Unless you have dedicated ethnographers on site at most, if not all of your events, then I would recommend against splitting beyond three surveys. It will be difficult to maintain the data quality and quantity for your project otherwise.
What would work best for me?
These options are valuable to enhance your ability to collect data, but the ideal option is to keep your survey short enough that all respondents can answer each question. While that may be difficult, it is important to always focus on what the goals of your survey are, and what the event marketing objectives and targets are.
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