Motivating veterinary professionals to do market research

Marketing relies on understanding what motivates our behaviour. The importance of passively collected data, digital analytics, social media and point of sales information is growing by the minute, but surveys are still a key tool for answering the ‘Why?’ questions.

So, how can surveys engage an extremely time-poor target such as veterinary surgeons? Why would a busy vet spend 20 minutes of their extremely long and stressful day filling in a survey?
Motivators are not universal and the design of the research should take this into account. Here are 5 tips on how to motivate vets to take part in surveys:

1. Short and easy to complete

While this is obvious, there are a huge number of questionnaires that include a long list of questions, often on several different topics. Combining different topics is false economy, as respondents quickly get bored. The data quality suffers and so does willingness to participate in further research. And while this may not be critical in consumer research, when the target population is only a few thousand vets, every time one of them decides surveys are not worth their effort, this is a loss to everyone in the industry.
– Resist temptation to use a research project to answer objectives from different departments in your organisation.
– Go through the questionnaire assessing what you would do with the data from each question. Drop any questions that will not be acted upon.
Counterintuitively, asking vets to write in their views is often more engaging that just asking them to click on closed questions. Even though this may be more time consuming, it gives them an opportunity to express their opinion freely.
Tip: Aim for maximum 15 min survey length, add honest and accurate information about the survey length in the invite

2. Topic is key – not only relevant and interesting, but ideally also providing an opportunity for vets to learn new information

Vets strive to keep their knowledge up to date and place huge emphasis on continuous professional development (CPD). If vets can learn new information through the survey, they are much more likely to be engaged in giving their most thorough and open answers.
This willingness to learn and know the latest medical developments is a great advantage when the research is for new product development.
It can also be used for other type of projects – information about what other vets do can be just as powerful as a preview of ground breaking innovations. Many survey platforms allow answers from other participants to be shown during the survey – so that respondents can see how their views compare to their peers’ views. This can liven up usage and attitude type surveys, for example.
Tip: add a topic description in the survey invite

3. Make sure surveys are mobile compatible

As surveys are increasingly filled on smartphones or tablets, the survey design must accommodate smaller screens and touch devices.
Using a scripting platform that is designed for mobile phones is essential. Remember that screen space is considerably smaller on mobile phones, so you can fit a lot less on one page. Remove any graphic elements that are taking up space, any nice words that are not essential (e.g. “Please fill in…”), avoid answer lists that need scrolling down, etc.
Tip: Be vicious and shorten the survey as much as possible. Then test in different devices using vertical and landscape view.

4. Compensate vets for their time and effort

An engaging topic can go a long way in sparking the curiosity of vets to check out what the survey is about. But given the limited pool of respondents it is a good idea to offer an additional incentive. Here the challenge is to offer an adequate compensation for their time without being too generous and creating future high expectations. Consider how much a vet could earn in the time that would take to do a survey and what the incentive could buy. Consider offering at least £10-£15 for a 10 min survey with an engaging topic.
Tip: monetary incentive doesn’t work for everyone. Offer an alternative option to donate to an animal welfare charity on behalf of the respondents

5. Pilot and revise

Once you have designed your survey, pilot it with a few real respondents. Throughout the survey insert opportunities for feedback (text boxes) and ask for suggestions on how the research can be improved. Respondents are quick to spot problems and to tell you if anything is not working perfectly.
Tip: Pilot with 5-10 respondents is more than enough to pick up on any problems with the survey

By Vladi Ibberson, Associate Director at CM Research