Co-Author: Kristen Elfstrand, Field Manager

In a previous blog post, IIM detailed the importance of relationships with top notch facilities and client communication.  Writing an effective screener is another important step in the research project lifecycle.  Question by question, Insights in Marketing lays the groundwork for effective research results through our thorough screener development process.

The following elements are the main components IIM uses to formulate an effective screener and achieve consistent high-quality results for each research project. Without these fundamentals in place, clients risk unqualified or misguided respondents clouding their clear research objectives.

Format Correctly

The first step to creating an efficient screener is to be sure it’s in a clear, easy-to-read format for recruiters. Consistent spacing, tabs, margins, and fonts make for a neat looking screener; and make it easier for recruiters to read while on the phone. Notes to recruiters about respondents terminating or qualifying on certain points should always be bolded, underlined, or italicized to draw attention to them. This allows recruiters to record answers clearly and determine, without difficulty, whether or not respondents should continue through the screener.

Use only Respondent/Recruiter Friendly Questions

It is important to minimize the amount of questions that might not be considered “respondent or recruiter friendly.” Long, exhaustive product or brand lists are time-consuming to read over the phone and typically frustrate respondents and recruiters; especially if they have to read through the list several times to obtain the appropriate amount of information. Long lists should be avoided or shortened to less than 15 line items. Asking respondents to recall too much detailed information about brand or product usage, especially asking them to recollect information from months prior, can be particularly difficult for them and may lead to incorrect information given from the respondent.

Use an Opinionation Question

One aspect of Insights In Marketing’s screeners that sets us apart from competitors is that instead of having an articulation question at the end of the screener, we have what we like to call an “opinionation question.”  This question not only determines if a respondent is articulate, but it also helps to determine if the respondent is “opinionated.” This ensures that when respondents come to the groups they will be able to articulate their opinions on our clients’ products and services. Topics for our past and current opinionation questions have included government regulated recycling, public cell phone usage, and professional sports players’ salaries, etc.

Set Clear Objectives

The final “must have” element for an effective screener is to ensure both the client and Insights In Marketing have a clear understanding of specs and objectives of the research. Knowing exactly how people should qualify and why they should qualify is important for every study. This not only helps IIM’s field managers to develop better, more effective questions for screening, but it helps clients and IIM if a recruit is not going well. Knowing the end objectives of the research helps us decide what specifications need to be adjusted in order to achieve high-quality groups/interviews and meet client expectations.

Developing an effective screener sets the foundation for successful research projects and objectives.  It allows our clients to achieve untainted and clear insights and research results.  With the countless ways to gather information, having an effective screener that asks the ‘right’ questions, in the ‘right’ way, makes all the difference!