When conducted correctly, online research can accurately collect opinions among voters, the general population and consumers.
Recently, New York Times reporter Nate Silver took to task an online voter survey conducted in South Carolina. Before Citing a Poll, Read the Fine Print.
Yes, caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) is an appropriate cautionary note for any research. But what factors should decision-makers look for to determine if an online survey is valid or not.
CFM has found the following are key elements to conducting successful and accurate online studies.
- Cast a wide net for emails. For general population surveys we collect emails addresses from a variety of valid sources, such as e-billing, e-newsletters, website registrations and existing online panels. Using multiple sources for email addresses makes the final email list representative of the community.
- Diversify sources. If appropriate, use several online panels for community surveys. Each panel has its strengths and weaknesses. Using several sources helps avoid potential biases inherent in all commercial panels.