Principles and tips for designing screening questions in market research survey - Porsline Blog

Principles and tips for designing screening questions in market research survey

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 Principles and tips for designing screening questions in market research survey
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Suppose you want to conduct some research in a large statistical community about a particular topic, in order to find the real target audience of your community and get logical and valid results, consider using the screening questions which will help you conduct market research and marketing research. By using the market research screening questions, you can determine who is the right audience to answer the survey and who is not.
A market research survey is usually associated with specific characteristics when taking the target market into consideration. Market research screening questions are developed by the researcher at the beginning of the market research questionnaire to show and ask the main questions related to the objectives of the questionnaire after ensuring that the respondents are qualified to answer them.

What is a screening question in the market research survey?

Market research sorting question
As mentioned, market research screening questions are the first questions that should be asked in a market research questionnaire to correctly and appropriately identify the target audience. To understand the process of market research screening questions, consider this example:
suppose you own a medical institution and you wish to conduct research about the side effects among patients after having recovered from Coronavirus infection. In order to choose your group correctly, you must, first of all, choose patients who, it has been at least two months, since they recovered, so the first question you might ask is:
How long has it been since you recovered from covid-19?

  1. One to two months
  2. Two to three months
  3. Three to five months

Respondents who choose options “B” and “C” are more likely to be suitable to continue the research, this way you will be able to choose only those who are really suitable to answer this online survey among the huge statistical community at hand.
Read this article to learn about frequently asked questions in a market research survey.

Advantages of using market research screening questions

Advantages of sorting questions
Here we would like to answer the question of why screening questions improve your questionnaire and produce better results for you.
We recommend using screening questions in your market research survey for several reasons.

Identifying your true target audience

Identifying your true target audience leads to more reliable and accurate results. Suppose you send your questions to a very large target community, then only by using market research screening questions you can be sure that the respondents meet all your requirements.

Quickly Analyzing data

If you get the right answer from your target audience, you can save a lot of time because this way you will have filtered the irrelevant answers and then spend your time analyzing only the qualified answers.

Reducing Bias

Respondents may not have enough information to answer your questions or they may not have enough experience, so they may, in general, not be able to answer your questions. By using the market research screening questions you can choose the people who meet the criteria needed to answer your questions.

Updating the status of your audience

The people you chose to answer your questions may have changed their jobs and marital status over time, in which case they may not be suitable to answer your questions.
For example, some respondents may have got married or have had children, this would make them unfit to answer your questions about the single life, so by using the market research screening questions you can filter these people and exclude them from the respondents’ list.

Types of Market Research screening questions

Types of sorting questions

  1. Sorting respondents using demographic information:

The most common way to use market research screening questions is to ask questions about age, income, gender, place of residence, etc. The set of demographic questions ensures that the characteristics of the respondents are compatible with the target audience. On Porsline, you can use the “group of questions” feature, create a questionnaire, and separate the main audience from others.
For example:
How often do you visit Instagram?

  1. Every day
  2. Several times a week
  3. Once a week
  4. Never

So if you want to survey bloggers on Instagram or people who spend a lot of time on it, you can remove those who answered: “never” or “once a week” from your list.

  1. Screening respondents according to their level of knowledge:

Some types of market research are related to a particular product or service, and the respondent must have a certain amount of knowledge in that field so that there would be no mistakes in analyzing the results and making decisions.
For example, a store seeks to evaluate the market of specialized mountaineering products, so the questions to be asked must be related to mountaineering equipment to ensure that the respondent is familiar with the field.
Also to give another example, suppose you want to do marketing research about medical products related to the Coronavirus. At the beginning of your questionnaire, you ask the following question:
Do you or one of your relatives work in any of these fields?

  1. Medical supplies
  2. Medicine
  3. Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
  4. None of the above

To avoid bias in market research results, you can choose people who answered “none of the above.”

  1. Screening respondents by using identity verification: In some types of market research, the identity of the target community must be verified first, for example, an organization seeks to collect the opinions of its sales representatives in different regions of the country on a new product or service, then each salesperson must first enter the employee code or password that has been sent to them in advance by e-mail so that they can answer the questions in your questionnaire after verification. Use the Respondent Authentication feature on Porsline in order to do this easily.

Tips for designing market research screening questions

Tips for designing sorting questions

  1. The screening questions’ list should be short, and it would be better to keep the number of screening questions below ten, besides the time required to answer them should be about two minutes maximum.
  2. Consider your screening questions as a funnel, first, ask general questions, then gradually make them more specific and detailed. For example, ask first: Have you ordered something online during the past month? If the answer is yes, then ask a multiple-choice question: On which websites have you ordered products during the past month?
  3. Design a screening question with more options than “yes/no.” For example, it would be better to ask: What type of transportation has been the best option to use in your city during the past month?

This way the answer would include several options like: by my own car, using the subway, using public buses, and using taxi booking apps. This would be much better than asking: Have you used taxi booking apps during the past month? and only putting the two options yes and no.

  1. In the demographic questions set, ask only the questions you need, and, at the end of the questionnaire, add the additional information required to complete the profile of a customer, user, or organization.
  2. Do not ask your questions in a way that makes the respondents think they should choose the right answer. In some questionnaires, the questions were designed so that the respondent chooses the correct answer rather than expressing his/her opinion, as in the following example:

The wrong question: Do you have to buy organic food?

  1. yes
  2. no

The right question: How important do you think it is to buy organic food?

  1. Very important
  2. Somewhat important
  3. Not important

Designing a screening question by using the “add logic” feature on Porsline

Using screening questions means creating different branches to answer the questionnaire online, and using the “add logic” feature you can easily create the most complex answer paths in the questionnaire. We recommend that the required flowchart be drawn on paper before adding logic to the questionnaire.
Watch this short video to learn how to add logic.


You need to use screening questions to make the most of your marketing research, Porsline, your free online survey software helps you move on a smoother path and reach the desired outcome faster.
To create an online market research survey, sign up on Porsline now.

kamal hani

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