Low cost surveys using an omnibus (an omni-what??)

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There are many ways to keep the cost of your research down. One of the best ways is to find some existing reports or data that you can apply to your business.


But sometimes you might find you desperately need some fresh data.



You’re sizing a market that hasn’t been sized before?

You’re needing to ask questions that haven’t already been asked?

You’re testing a new proposition or concept?

If you want to run your own survey, there’s a stack of things that will add to the cost including – survey platform costs and the costs for finding participants.


That’s not including the time required to plan your questions, do the analysis and figure out how to apply the findings to your business.


Just the survey setup and data collection can run into the £000s.


So how else can you go about this?


This week I’m focusing on a way to keep these costs really low using an ‘omnibus survey’


Read time: 2.9 mins


tl;dr: omnibus surveys are ideal for startups as they are low cost ways to ask questions to lots of people, without the need to pay for an entire survey. Individual questions can cost as little as £250.

An omnibus?! What the flip is that?
The research industry is like no other (or maybe many others?) in that it’s completely useless at explaining and selling itself.


One of the reasons for this is a reliance on jargon and meaningless phrases that few outside of the industry can really begin to, or be bothered to, understand.


The ‘omnibus survey’ is probably the best example of meaningless research terminology.


Anyway, rubbish name aside, the concept is pretty useful.


Essentially it goes like this:

Certain research agencies run regular surveys to a large sample of people who are representative of a particular market, eg the UK


They sell individual questions on the survey to clients who need to ask one or a few questions rather than buy an entire survey (more like 20-30-40 questions)


Clients pay on a per question basis and so share the costs of set up and participants

So this means you can ask a single question to a fully representative sample of the UK population for about £250 quid.


It’s perfect for something like market sizing.


Your question or questions can be simple Yes/No through to multiple choice with list of options or open ended.


Even better, for no additional fee you’ll get some advice on the wording of your questions from a researcher. It’s in their own interests to run good questions and collect good data.


What’s not to love about the omnibus survey, except for:

The name

The fact no one knows about them

How do I get some of this low-cost research?
There are a lot of agencies offering omnibus surveys – Google will find a good range.

I’d definitely recommend shopping around for the best prices.


Think about:

Sample size – typically 2,000 per survey but some are 1,000

Whether they charge more for certain question types over others

What other topics are being covered on the survey at the same time as yours

Output – raw data can be useful but data tables are easier to work with

Turnaround time – typically you’ll get your data back in a few days


Very happy to give you further advice on this, just give me a call.


Thanks for reading.

Would you like to learn ‘How to Run Research’?

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