On this blog, we often like to look at real life examples of how companies run their surveys, particularly when there’s something about them that seems less than ideal. Today, we’re going to look at an invitation that one of our readers received in the mail to take part in a survey for their health insurance company. Names have been changed to protect the company and employee.
Dear Insurance Member:
You have been randomly selected to participate in a survey. Your input is very important to us and will be used to make improvements in order to better serve you.
Click on this link https://veryspammylinkwithlotsofslashesandnumbersandadomainnamethatisnottheinsurancecompany.com or paste it into the address bar of your Internet browser to participate in the survey. This questionnaire should take about 10 minutes to complete and your feedback is confidential.
The deadline for the survey is Sunday, March 11, 2012.
Thank you in advance for your participation.
Name of Research Analyst
Now, we don’t want to necessarily call the researcher out on their practices, because researchers often research their own research (tongue twister) and it’s possible that this researcher found that this type of invitation is adequate for their data collection needs. But for us it has some problems which we’ll outline below.
Problem 1: Spam Link
This was, by far, one of the most spam-looking links we have ever received. Before even getting to the domain name there are a number of random digits and numbers, and the domain name is a company/domain that the reader has never seen before – certainly not related to the company. That domain name is then followed by a bunch of slashes, numbers, and dashes that would otherwise be exactly the type of link you expect to see in spam.
It’s not always possible to avoid a link that looks fake. Indeed, any time you outsource your research there is a chance that the resulting hyperlink will have a “fake hyperlink” appearance. But if you’re going to use such a service, you need to offer either alternative ways to complete the survey, or employ something that will ensure the participant knows that this type of link is coming. Not only does the link look like spam – but knowing that it looks like spam, it’s possible for spammers to then utilize this type of link in the future. This brings us to the next problem that we’ll look at in an upcoming article.