Proceed with caution

Conducting and marketing a survey can take on a life of its own, and surveys come in all types and sizes. Some consultants run unscientific polls on their sites by asking visitors for their opinions on a particular topic. They run the survey for a period of time and publish the results. If you'd like a snapshot of how your Web site visitors or zine readers feel about a topic, this method will work.

If you want to understand more substantive issues impacting the business community, you'll want to conduct a scientific survey, rather than an informal one. Even if you are an expert at survey design, development, and analysis, it can be resource intensive to move from your initial idea to the publication of your report. It is possible to outsource the entire effort to a polling firm, which can shorten the survey life cycle. But that will also cost substantially more than if you complete the survey yourself.

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