All posts by Amy Hess

Digital Security For An Evolving Global Marketplace – What Research Companies Should Know

In recent weeks, the Internet of Things Security Foundation (IoTSF) was formed and the US-EU Safe Harbor Agreement collapsed. What does this mean for those of us operating in the very digital and global market industry? What about for our clients?

The recent US-EU Safe Harbor decision highlights the fact that we, as a global community, need laws that are relevant to today’s technology and digital security needs.

Microsoft notes key points for the future of personal data and digital privacy likening it to a “Rubik’s Cube,” and also stating that, “We need a global Internet,” and “We need to keep the public safe.”

We couldn’t agree more.

A Checklist for Digital Security Compliance

The good news – many companies in the market research industry are leading the way with innovative and forward-thinking strategies to protect client data and to actively inform their client of their rights and policies.

Companies such as Nebu, have implemented operational procedures specifically in adherence to the most stringent policies to ensure compliance within most territories. They also provide guidelines and clear explanations on the regulations associated with holding personal data for market research use.

In their latest white paper, Security and Data Protection, Nebu has created a thorough overview to provide market research agencies with a guide to answer the basics of security, like “What is Personal Data?” but also to address more technical questions like:

  • Who is accessing the data and at what point is data transferred?
  • Encryption: what it brings, why do it?
  • SSL – what does it add?
  • Which geographical legislation applies?

What’s next for security?

The IoTSF was formed to respond to the evolving needs and concerns of digital security. In similar fashion, we strongly believe that the best defense for our industry and clients is to proactively discuss and evolve to meet the needs of our industry. Ultimately, this should encourage providers and clients to intelligently pursue the best ways to actively protect personal data while still encouraging legitimate use of anonymized data as mentioned on Research Live.


Request a demo to learn more about our partnership with Nebu, their market-leading software and all of the tools you need to keep your projects, data and respondents safe.

Meeting Industry Skepticism Head-On: How Community Panels Are Modernizing

When reading the latest trend reports or even talking with panel providers and users, its no secret – the market research industry is facing the undisputed fact that access panels are continuing to dwindle in popularity.

Just last month on GreenBook Blog, Edward Appleton’s featured post “Can Researchers Trust Online Access Panel Data?” dove right to the heart of this well-known issue describing a conference session in which “real respondents” revealed less than honest motivations and responses, as well as overall disdain for the industry.

Where do customer community panels fit it?

With the growing need for increasingly stringent validation techniques, tightly controlled customer database communities built on highly sophisticated and scalable panel management technologies have become a valuable solution. These targeted customer communities can give brands the chance to listen directly to engaged customers. Market-leading technologies like MARSC offer robust yet flexible solutions with the ability to build, manage and maintain online communities via a website/portal that can be tailored to any company’s individual requirements.

Focus Forward and Panel Direct Online, an agency specializing in recruitment and panel supply, found their solution with the MARSC platform. Having previously created a home-grown platform, they had very specific and strict requirements that needed to be addressed to maintain the integrity and growing needs of their panel. The result?

Chris Goering, Application Development Director from Focus Forward noted: We came to MARSC from a platform that had been developed in-house some years ago and it had grown outdated and a major pain-point for us was keeping that platform up to date with the needs of the business. The MARSC platform is full of many features that allow us to easily make updates to our panelist website and data points as needed.

What’s next for the panel industry?

If we had to bet, it would be on continued and increasing validation techniques, but also partnerships. From recruitment to technology, to maintenance and ultimately end-clients. Partnerships in the form of customer’s advising their technology partners, as well as clients advising their panel suppliers. It is imperative that they grow together to enable a trust so that the customers are winning. If the end goal is to provide customers with top products and experiences, finding the technology and methodology to gain and provide valuable insight will be the path forward for the panel industry.


Request a demo to learn about our partnership with MARSC and its market-leading software that provides users with the ability to build, manage and maintain online communities.

Mobile surveys for a more customer-focused industry

The telecommunications industry has leveraged SMS surveys to help transform into a more customer-focused industry.

While there are various channels for acquiring customer feedback, we’ve noticed the telecom industry has begun a significant shift toward SMS-based survey programs. 

Why the move to SMS?

For Market Research agencies that advise and support telecom programs, they are now able to point to several reasons for this shift. When evaluating legacy customer satisfaction programs for telecom companies and their clients, SMS-based surveys not only offer better alignment with their own industry sector which promotes a more modern and forward-thinking identity, but also a significant and tangible time and cost savings. One that is even greater and uniquely aligned to the telecom industry.

When Market Research agency Maritz recommended to their client, a global mobile operator, that they move from IVR to SMS surveys, implementing OnePoint Global’s solution, their response rates increased by 67%. On top of which their customers loved it!

Though each mobile customer satisfaction program is unique, additional benefits realized using SMS-based surveys include:

  • Customers can reply when it best suits them – something not as easily done with IVR in the past.
  • Customers respond for FREE! – leveraging the mobile operators own network, this is a very tangible cost savings.
  • 80% responded within 2hrs – providing results closer to real-time enabling faster analysis and insight to improve customer satisfaction.

All together, these benefits are creating reliable, more real-time results and ultimately an entire business program and process that is better integrated into the core of telecom operations.

Much like the ongoing and growing conversation about mobile for market research, we think sectors like the telecom industry will continue to move in the direction of SMS-based solutions and rightly so. It will be interesting to see which industry will be next to find their own unique benefits to mobile surveys.



Request a demo to learn how our partnership with OnePoint Global can support any device, any country, any language.

Why mobile market research should be in your gameplan

Name something that virtually everyone you know has with them nearly all the time, and just about every day.

If you thought “mobile phone” the numbers back-up your observations: Of the approximately 7 billion people currently living on Earth, there are between 4 and 4.5 BILLION unique mobile users globally; that translates to about three in four adults on the planet who own a mobile phone. The number of global mobile phone users is forecast to exceed a staggering 5 billion by 2017.

The magnitude of smartphone use is even more noteworthy when you consider that smartphones as we think of them today – with HD touchscreen, myriad apps, and high-speed internet “on the fly” – have only been available since Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007. Imagine: It took only five years to go from zero to over a billion smartphones sold!

mobile_surveysWhile the smartphone is not yet as omnipresent across the globe as the mobile phone, it is on an impressive growth trajectory – by virtually any standard of measure:

  • There are approximately 1.75 billion smartphones in use globally today.
  • Smartphone penetration (i.e., the percentage of individuals owning at least one smartphone) has expanded to more than a third of the global marketplace.
  • By 2017, smartphone penetration among mobile phone users globally will approach 50%.

These impressive numbers – and their implications – have not gone unnoticed by the market research industry. In 2011, for the first time ever, self-completion of mobile surveys was the fastest-growing research methodology.

What makes mobile technology so research-friendly?

Five Key (Research-Friendly) Characteristics of Mobile Technology

  1. It’s (nearly) everywhere.
    Mobile phones are the most widely owned type of electronic device on the planet; they are changing how, when, and where humans communicate. If you are a researcher, you no longer need to wait for a respondent to answer a phone call, open a piece of “snail mail”, or even access email on a desktop computer; you have what amounts to nearly instant access to your target respondents 24/7.
  2. Mobile devices broaden the potential respondent pool.
    They provide access to affluent individuals, those with few financial resources, and everything in-between. Particularly in emergent countries, those who have less material wealth are much more likely to “reach out and touch” their friends and families via mobile phones. No matter which point on the socioeconomic spectrum you need to explore, chances are you’ll be able to connect via mobile  technology.
  3. Mobile is already being used in a big way within “traditional” market research.
    There’s no learning curve involved. Mobile devices are being used to complete about half of all computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) in most markets – and in emergent markets, that percentage is significantly higher. About one in four online surveys are currently being completed using a mobile devices (phones, phablets, and tablets), so most people doing online are already doing mobile. Mobile devices are also being used for face-to-face quantitative and qualitative research.
  4. Mobile devices afford research participants an expanded role in the research.
    Rather than responding to prompts given by an interviewer or a research instrument, mobile devices are enabling individuals to become more active players in the research process. And it also empowers those who comprise our clients’ target audiences to drive research – and market decisions – to a degree that was not possible or practical before these devices were used. These devices are proving to be instrumental in the creation of new forms of market research.
  5. We’re no longer dependent upon respondents to remember.
    “Passive” data collection supplements the participant’s subjective input with objective information that can lend context and quantification to that input. There’s no extra effort required, and no need to rely upon the accuracy of their memories. Passive data is telling us what people do, when then do, how long they do it, the emotions evoked, and – in some instances – where and with whom they do it. Location-based applications, such as Foursquare, allow us to follow people through their day and “push” requests to them based on where they are and what they are doing, in real time.

Through the use of mobile technology, we – and our clients – are being rewarded with data that is increasingly fresh, accurate, and nuanced. Want to know which products and services a 40 year-old female saw advertised as she rode the subway or bus? Are you interested in exploring how millennials really spend their free time (and with whom they spend it)? Are you trying to gauge interest in a new product being sold in your client’s Big Box store – the one that the research participant just entered – and determine whether interest would be any greater if you offered an Internet coupon to on-site customers? Through mobile research, the world, in essence, becomes one big focus group suite, with the device serving as the one way mirror.


Click here to learn more about mobile surveys and how to create them for any device, any country, any language.


*This post was adapted from its original format with permission from our partners at


[VIDEO] Top questions to ask your technology providers

There isn’t much debate when it comes to the importance of measuring customer, employee and marketplace experiences. Whether to launch a new product or test creative ideas and concepts, the key is to acquire the necessary insight AND get it to the appropriate stakeholder in the shortest amount of time. The strategic research and partnerships that fuel the decision process are of the utmost importance.

But how do you determine if you have the right technology partner?

We suggest starting with these questions [VIDEO]:

  • Are your technology partners providing dynamic and intelligent software, solutions and services?
  • Can your partners offer expertise and consulting across even the most complex project lifecycle?
  • Do you have the most fit-for-purpose deployment of software solutions to achieve superior business results and return on investment?

If you’re just getting started, perfect! Add these questions to your conversations with potential partners. And if you’re already working with a technology provider consider these questions when you evaluate your next project. The ideal technology partners are able to recognize the importance of your insight program, offer comprehensive solutions to understand your stakeholders and their goals, and add value to your programs to ultimately ignite your brand.

To learn more about our strategic software partnerships, request a demo.


Will a partnership advance your next insight program?

YES! From the look of current trends, partnerships are on the rise and we like it!

As both innovation in technology and the complexities for sample and research requirements increase, the market research industry has seen a surge in partnerships of varying degree. Partnerships are driving change and elevating the industry.

Research Live recently noted that, “partnerships are leading to greater innovation in the industry such as easier access to niche audiences.”

So how do thinqonline and other value-added resellers fit into the partnership picture? Having built our solutions and services with strategic partnerships, we’ve found there are significant benefits to working with a value-added reseller with strategic technology partnerships.

Why conduct your next research project with a partner like thinqonline?

Access to subject matter expertise
Many companies have a clear specialty or core competency in which they are the market leader, and through a value-added reseller, you benefit by gaining access to multiple market-leading technologies and their respective domain expertise. Why not work with the best in mobile surveys? As well as the best for CATI? And don’t forget the leader in reporting and analytics! You can leverage the strengths of partnerships to benefit your projects.

Leverage the best technology for your project
While some software companies can support a variety of survey methodologies, it doesn’t mean they are the best at all of them. Working with a variety of partners enables our customers to leverage the best-of-breed technology for their specific project. While some of our partners provide similar software capabilities, our role, is to ensure the client is able to leverage the best of the offerings for their specific project and not be tied to a single software brand.

Save Time & Money
Unlike a traditional software license, where you might be limited to a single offering for multi-year contract, a software reseller partnership can provide clients a wider variety of access to multiple technologies as needed for their projects. Rather than purchasing a full license of products that you do not need, you can select the methods best suited for your project and invest and scale accordingly, often saving time and money for implementation and on-boarding.


Having best-practice use cases and expertise directly from technology suppliers, puts value-added resellers in a unique position. We know the benefits of each of the partners we represent and are able to recommend an option that will advance your business. And should your needs change, as is usually the case when programs evolve, you can leverage thinqonline to reevaluate and recommend another solution if needed, without being tied to a single platform.

Learn more about about thinqonline and our strategic technology partners.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Quantitative Questionnaires



Questionnaire design is both an art and a science. It entails much more than creating a list of questions and throwing them into a document. It requires the researcher to recognize what an effective rhythm for a survey “feels like”;  the ability to balance the objectives of a client – who may want to try to squeeze as many questions and topics possible into the instrument – with the realities of yielding reliable, projectable data.


Here are five tips to help you plan what TO DO for your next quantitative questionnaire:

  1. Word each question in a style geared to your respondent audience.  
  2. Design screening questions that will capture a fresh pool of qualified respondents.  
  3. Use a design approach that’s compatible with how your survey will be administered.   
  4. Confirm that the questionnaire is programmed correctly.  Then, check it again.  And, yet again.
  5. Include open-ended questions to gain additional insight and nuance into the reasons behind perceptions and behavior.

Since knowing what NOT TO DO is also key to a successful project, here are 5 more tips:

  1. Never begin to design a questionnaire until you have a solid understanding of the client’s business and research objectives. 
  2. Don’t underestimate the importance of the screening questionnaire. 
  3. Don’t forget to allow for every response that a participant might give to a question.
  4. Never use only one question technique for capturing data.
  5. Never forget to run Spell Check and proofread the each iteration of the questionnaire.

Many of these tips surely sounds like common sense…but what is that saying about common sense not being all that common?


*This post was adapted from its original format with permission from our partners at


3 Reasons to Invest In & Attend Industry Events

Like many of our clients, budgeting time and money is an ongoing reality. Where to invest and where to spend when both are of utmost importance and tend to run out quickly when you’re having fun.

Key drivers for our calendar include selecting events based on the clients and markets that we serve, as well as those that bring together and encourage industry thought-leaders and engaging speakers to share their best practices and insight.  And while certain factors like location or logistics may impact a decision, here are three of our top reasons to regularly attend events:



Organizations like MRIA, CASRO, and MRA host events for companies and people who are looking to increase their knowledge and experience…which is basically everyone.

Events provide a unique opportunity to take courses or attend sessions in a condensed period of time with industry colleagues.



icon-softTechnology & Methodology

Keeping up with the latest trends and capabilities is how leading market researchers stay at the top of their game.

Learning from fellow researchers, business leaders, and across industries will help you find the tools and strategies to propel your insight programs.




The chance to network with leading researchers, learn from their experiences, and bounce ideas off of one another is invaluable.

Attending sessions and debriefing with peers can inspire new initiatives, business plans, and even careers!



For more details on where you’ll find thinqonline, visit our 2015 Events Calendar


7 Tips to Save Money on Survey Programming

by Mark Martins

Working with budgets is something we all accept. Every research project has a budget, your client has one, you have one and your operations team or partner has one as well.

We all understand that there is a cost associated with labor and that people and businesses don’t work for free. Having said that, it is easy to forget that there is a finite amount of hours assigned to each project for programming and clients tend to be surprised when additional charges are incurred.

A number of factors can impact pricing for survey programming services, including:

  • Beginning programming of the survey without a final survey questionnaire
  • Receiving changes that fall outside the allowable number of hours included in the price
  • Increase in survey complexity or length of the survey
  • Heavy use of Rich Media Tools
  • Large number of images
  • Custom requests

In order to minimize scope creep/price increases, it is best to ensure that a final survey questionnaire is ready before programming begins.

Change Management
The costs associated with survey programming should include a reasonable amount of hours for change management. You cannot track how much of your change management budget you’ve used unless you know how many hours you are allotted, so be sure you have this information. Changes beyond the limit usually result in added fees.

Nobody likes being surprised with additional charges, so here’s a few tips to help you save on survey programming:

Before programming begins
Tip 1: Ensure all relevant parties have provided their feedback on the questionnaire design and content before the survey is submitted to the programming team.

Spending a few more hours ensuring your questionnaire reflects your research needs minimizes changes and speeds up the programming process significantly (it may also save you money). Make sure all decision makers have had an opportunity to provide their feedback at the design phase, not the review phase.

After reviewing the test link
Tip 2:
Always consider the cascading impact of your changes. Determine how your change will impact other questions that are asked in other sections downstream.

Tip 3: Never change question numbers after programming begins. Doing so will force the programming team to assign new ID’s to existing questions and re-program any logic that refers to those questions.

Tip 4: Never change code numbers for answer options (same reasons listed in Tip 3)

Tip 5: Always document all your changes by either highlighting the changes or by using the “track changes” function in MS word. If possible, provide a separate document listing all the changes. Poorly documented changes result in quality issues and/or delays during the programming phase.

Tip 6: Review the entire survey link and collect all feedback from your team before submitting it to programming. Although it may feel like you are speeding up the process by sending multiple changes, the time needed to review, clarify and implement each round of changes will be greater than working on one single list of changes.

Tip 7: Talk to the experts! If you’re unsure how to design or document complicated changes or logic, speak to your programming team. They can listen to your needs and suggest the best approach.


*This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Customer Relationship Management

by Mark Martins

For a lot of people “Customer Relationship Management” is that cool tool the organization spent a lot of money on that tracks all the information needed to manage their clients. Indeed, there are pretty awesome software packages out there that make life much simpler.

For anyone dealing with clients on a daily basis, CRM is not just a tool the sales team uses! It is a way of thinking!

In my simplistic view, CRM comes down to a few things:

Communication: Be proactive, be responsive, keep the client informed, don’t hide behind email.

Partnership: Add value, consult, make meaningful suggestions, make life easier for the client.

Delivery: Meet your timelines and deliver on your promises!


*This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.