Friday, March 2, 2012

Avoiding an Unanswerable Pre-Survey Profile Question

One of the best things you can do if you want to receive more and better-targeted surveys is to answer all the profile surveys at your survey site or sites of choice and to keep them up to date. These surveys usually don't pay you anything, but they will (hopefully) allow you to participate in more paying surveys in the future. Nonetheless, I've always suspected that survey sites have a tough time getting their panelists to answer profile surveys -- it's a somewhat tedious process for the survey-taker. To get more people answering profile questions, some survey sites get a little creative; for instance, Global Test Market has started asking survey respondents to answer a few profile questions before being redirected to a paying survey. This isn't a bad idea: it's easier to fill out profiles a little bit at a time, and this is a way to reach people who rarely login to their survey site accounts and thus may be only dimly aware of the existence of profile surveys.

Unfortunately, GTM's execution of this concept leaves something to be desired. The site has repeatedly presented me with a profile question I cannot answer because of the limited answer options made available. It concerns my Internet service provider -- my actual provider is simply not one of the choices. Call it one of the perks of living in a small town: Time Warner abandoned our market a while back so a much smaller company is the only cable Internet/TV provider around. What makes this particular question so terrible is that "Other" or "None of the Above" simply aren't options, and I can't skip the question and just proceed to the survey either. Terrible question design!

This has been a problem for some time, and what I did originally was simply close the survey whenever I saw that dreaded profile question pop up. Probably lost a few dollars that way. Still, I'd rather miss out on surveys than pick the wrong answer just to get it out of the way...we're not getting paid to make things up, and market research only works if respondents are truthful. However, I've discovered a much better way of dealing with the Profile Question From Hell: simply refresh the survey or re-click the survey invitation link from your email. Either action will lead you the real survey. We shouldn't have to engage in Profile Question Avoidance Maneuvers, of course, but this at least provides a solution until Global Test Market fixes that particular question.

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