Interactive market research: sample student survey

When a market research company conducts a survey, the end result is usually a static, 10-20 page report that includes different slices of data to illustrate various conclusions. All this can be very helpful for a marketing director making tactical decisions on what words, feelings and attributes to focus on in copy, or for an e-learning executive looking at the strategic overview of how school features fit among its various competitors to illustrate key opportunities or threats.

But it is time to develop student survey results into a tool that a marketing director can use herself whenever she needs to brainstorm copy or think brand strategy. Below is an interactive survey report based on a fictitious online school. The interactivity allows our director to delve into results by each segment without sifting through 20 pages. An approximate margin of error self calculates, letting users know when differences are significant within a segment.

1) Attribute determinance

Curriculum writers like to pack their courses with as much content as possible, and then pressure marketers to showcase the entire suite of content in marketing pieces. However, students may choose a particular school only for a few specific courses. Those determinant attributes can change by segment. The below section shows the other schools that respondents considered plus a rating of our own school vs. those other competitors across different attributes. Determinance is a formulation of importance and comparison that illustrates why a student choose our school over others. In this case, our copy and branding should focus on science and math courses while avoiding social science courses or other extracurricular activities.

2) Competitive threats

When looking at competitors, it is important to know what your students are using most, and the curriculum they want. With so much data, it can be helpful to color-code the results to show relative strengths vs. relative weaknesses. Here we see that, while our school is relatively strong on the determinant attributes mentioned above (science and match courses), the weaker areas of content fare differently among our competitors. Insight Schools and K12 seem stronger in social science courses while ConnectionsAcademy shows relative strength in extracurricular activities.

Note, in this example the graph “Determinance by attribute per other school considered” is NOT filterable by the demographics on the side. This is to maintain a large enough sample size per other magazine read.

3) Satisfaction & importance

For an education marketer, knowing which sections of content drive students to choose your publication over others is paramount. But for curriculum planning, gauging generic importance and comparing satisfaction for various areas can provide some insight into areas that curriculum writers have invested too much time, too little time, or where you could potentially launch new courses. In this example, it looks like we’re greatly exceeding expecations in extracurricular activities, indicating we could potentially cut some investment there. However, we’re missing expectations in the most important attribute covered, teacher interaction. In light of Kaplan’s and K12’s relative strengths in these areas, it may make sense to launch a separate school to focus more effectively on this niche.

4) Brand messaging

When considering what your school means to a student, try testing various words or phrases to see if respondents really agree with your own conceptualizations. Ideally this would include some open-ended questions, which you can then filter by text phrases. How do respondents think about your teaching? Simply enter “teach” into your filter and look at the actual answers.

Below we can see that respondents agreed with broad, easy to understand, challenging and interesting as words that applied to our school. Most of the feeling statements tested well.