The legendary architect, inventor, and designer Buckminster Fuller coined the term ephemeralization, which referred to the ability of technological advancement to do “more and more with less and less.” Think about how this concept applies to budgets for phone-based data collection. When budgets are reduced, instead of relying 100% on phone you can still keep phone in the mix but trim costs by starting the survey online. You can then add phone based on fixed daily targets or to round out your data collection and fill in quotas.

By relying on more than one mode, it’s easier to reach your desired demographic and meet study deadlines. Online research relies more heavily on weighting data, which can impact the accuracy of insights. When you add phone, you can control what sample is dialed and fill quota faster so there is no “weighting” and less “waiting.”

Hold the Phone

Today, about 13% of the adult population in the United States does not have Internet access but 98% of these people can be reached by phone. While that may not be a big number… who they are may be very important to your research. This is particularly critical if you’re doing consumer product studies designed for seniors or trying to reach a rural population, minorities, or people in lower-income groups.

By strategically adding phone and IVR to online studies you can meet budgets and quota. For example, with phone, interviewers can easily manage a long, in-depth survey where there may otherwise be a high risk of respondent fatigue and drop-out. This approach is particularly useful for medical studies where answers may trigger follow-up questions.

Technology Barriers are Gone

Technology obstacles of the past that impeded multi-mode data collection no longer exist. Adding phone to your online data collection was once costly and time consuming. That’s because the survey may have needed to get adapted to the call center’s platform and then the data collected by phone had to be shoe-horned back together for analysis.

Now, however, technology makes it easy to use a call center with live phone interviewing or an automated IVR service when needed. Call centers can reach exactly who you need to fill quotas and nurture respondents through the whole survey and get representative results early.

When budgets don’t hold, consider multi-mode!

Technology barriers are coming down and researchers should once again consider the strategic value of phone research to reach seniors, minorities and other vital segments. Even with the high costs of cell phone dialing, phone-based research can fit budgets with a multi-mode approach.

Learn how you can reduce weighting, speed up results, meet budget and deliver better insights when Mary McDougall presents Phone Research: Insanity or Competitive Advantage? at the 2015 MRA Insights & Strategies Conference on Thursday, June 4, from 9:45 to 10:30 a.m.