How to collect quality data in the real world: Methodology

Very often, us digital marketers resort to online surveys to collect data, in the form of Questionnaire, Facebook Polls, Insta instant questions, or those silent YouTube pre-video survey ads. However, recently we decided to go grass-roots instead to conduct an extensive data collection activity, simply because we realized the need to ‘keeping the data real’ and focused more on ‘quality of responses

Here goes a glimpse of the methodology behind on-ground data collection and hoping you have some takeaways from here.

Project: Increasing voter turnout in the upcoming BBMP elections in August 2020

Objective: Understand the reasons for low voter turnout

Geography: Out of the 198 wards in Bangalore, we chose Ulsoor ward to start off with, due to ease of access

Step 1: File an RTI

We filed an RTI (Right To Information) to get cracking.

Under RTI, very Government Department allocates a PIO (Public Information Officer) and it is the officer of that Department that one needs to work with to get the required information. Usually a timeframe of 30 days is assigned to close the case. 

We handed over the charge to a Journalism and Media Intern working with 101 Reporters to use her local language skills and put her journalism knowledge to practical use. Divya visited the BBMP Head Office situated at the Corporation Circle, at least 4 – 5 times over that month to get the work done. Consistent ‘follow-ups’ is a must and knowing the local language to build a working relationship with the local authorities is a compulsive requirement in this case.

Step 2: Design the Questionnaire

Your survey questions are the foundation to collect good data.

While we already knew this fact, we realised it even so while conducting the survey on-ground.On designing the survey, keep in mind the translation of the questions in the form of a conversation. Keep it smart, simple and relatable. We knew the non-negotiables of the data we wanted (like age, smartphone device owner and language) and designed some of the questions accordingly.

The most critical question was if the member voted before at the ‘Corporator elections’ and if no, what is the reason/s behind not voting.

The Questionnaire went through 2 iterations while conducting the survey. Interestingly, the reason was the reaction of the people when asked if they voted or not. Human psyche often forces us to give the ‘acceptable’ or ‘politically correct’ response. In our experience, some of the people found the question intimidating and the initial response would be a lie or pure ignorance to the respondents.

We then course corrected and eased out the release of the question in the form of a conversation. We first explained why we are here and what are we attempting to do and that our data shows that close to 50% of people living in Bangalore do not vote in the local BBMP elections. This helped us break the ice and demonstrate our genuine intent.

This is how our questionnaire looked:

Step 3: Launch the Operation

We then received from the BBMP office, thanks to the RTI – exhaustive, ward wise data files in a pen drive that seemed like the data was untouched, abandoned before ?

Here’s a sample of how the resident data of the CV Raman Nagar ward looks like:

Our choice of ward i.e. ‘Ulsoor’ ward has an occupancy of over 30000 people and while it’s desirable, it is impossible to interview all 30000 people. So we assigned a team of university interns managed by 2 rotating editorial staff to conduct the activity. The interns were but of course paid for the well-deserved hard work put in.

A Team of 4, a Timeline 2 weeks and 900 responses recorded!

Going house to house was no doubt tiring, however the insights gathered while collecting the data has been incredibly useful. These takeaways will be taken into consideration when we put our thinking caps to design the campaign communication strategy. The lady who relentlessly drove the project’s operations is Rebecca from 101 Reporters. 

Step 4: Data Entry

A tiresome, manual labour part of any data collection drive is to record the entries. 900 responses is clearly not a joke, however we finished it in half a day. (yeayy)

Every step of this drive opens a gamut of loopholes, however accuracy and being conscious is the key to collecting the right data.

We are now all set to launch an informed Beta version of our campaign and create positive impact ? *Fingers and toes crossed

Next update on the BBMP Elections Project coming up soon this Independence Day.

Stay tuned.

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