Before We Price Your Survey, These 5 Questions:


  • 1


  • 2


  • 3


  • 4

    How Deep

  • 5

    How Wide


What does it cost to take a survey?

Well, think about it this way:  if you call a caterer and ask,

“What does it cost to cater a wedding?” …

the answer will come back: depending on a dozen or more factors,

anywhere from $8 per person to $800 per person, somewhere in that range.

And the caterer is not being coy.

The price range reflects the reality that different people dream of different weddings.

 In the research business, the range is almost as great.

Here are 5 questions to answer before you ask SurveyUSA to price your research project

1. Who is eligible to answer the questions in the survey?

  • Any adult age 18+
  • Just left-handed carpenters?
  • Just Roman Catholics?
  • Just homeowners with 2 mortgages and a cat?
  • Young Latino males?
  • Caregivers to ALS patients?
  • Only those with a front-loading Electrolux washing machine?

How you answer Question 1 will start us down a path that will get us to the cost of your “wedding.”

2. Where are your respondents?

  • Anywhere in the 50 United States?
  • Only in the state of Idaho?
  • Only in the greater Cincinnati TV-viewing area?
  • Only in Texas’ 24thS. Congressional District?
  • Only in Caddo Parish Louisiana?
  • Only in the Kirkwood School District?
  • Only in Zip Code 10022?


How you answer Question 2 will narrow us down to a range.

3. When do you need research results back in your hands?

  • A month from now?
  • In a couple of weeks?
  • Next Monday?
  • Before the sun goes down tonight?

How you answer question 3 will tell us whether your project is feasible. In general, the more time you give us, the lower the cost. And in general, the 4 weeks leading up to a Presidential election, when SurveyUSA resources are fully engaged on state and local election polling, are more expensive than other times. The more demanding your time requirements, the more likely it is we may need to charge a premium, which allows you to jump to the head of the queue.

4. What is the smallest sub-population that needs to be extrapolatable?

Here is why we ask. Let’s say you tell us that you want to interview any adult in the state of Ohio, and the smallest sub-population you plan to examine is the difference between Ohio men and Ohio women. Great. That gives us a place to start: in a survey of (say) 600 adults, there will be approximately 300 men and 300 women, enough men for you to extrapolate men and enough women for you to extrapolate women.

But, by contrast, if you say to us, instead, that it’s important to you to examine the difference between Ohio Republicans, Ohio Democrats and Ohio Independents, where, for argument’s sake, each represents 33% of the Ohio population, then we may recommend increasing your overall sample size to 1,000 respondents, so that you have approximately 333 Republicans, 333 Democrats and 333 Independents to analyze instead of just 200.

Further, if you say to us that it’s important to you to examine the differences between white Ohio residents and African American Ohio residents, we may recommend increasing your sample size to 1,500 adults, which would give you approximately 180 African American respondents. Or, if appropriate, we may recommend to you a smaller total number of interviews with a unique oversample of African Americans.

To extend this example to its logical endpoint:  if you say to us that it’s important for you to interview Ohio’s few Latinos — in Spanish — then the cost of your project may increase exponentially.

This brings us to the last question:

5. How many separate pieces of learning do you hope will come out of your survey?

This is an important question, but it is different than asking you how many questions the respondent will answer. Sometimes, you can learn something with one question, but more often, it takes a series of questions to produce a single piece of learning.

SurveyUSA recommends that you inventory every separate piece of learning you want to come out of your survey by imagining how upset you will be if you conduct the survey, pay for it, but only then realize you didn’t learn all that you had hoped. We encourage clients to complete the following sentence and email it to us.

“This research will have been a waste of time and I will have thrown away all of my money if we fail to learn ___________________ .”

Some learning can be achieved in 2 questions. Some learning can only be achieved by asking 20 questions. Sometimes a single, critical insight can be learned in 3 minutes of a respondent’s time. Sometimes, key learning takes 9 minutes of a respondent’s time. But most of the research that SurveyUSA fields is typically 15 to 45 data points, which carve typically 3 to 5 minutes out of a respondent’s already busy day.

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Once you have worked through these 5 questions, and once we have talked you your project, surveyusa can typically give you a price within the hour.