Why its good to check the LOI of your online surveys

If you are commissioning a market research agency or panel to run an online survey for you, the term “LOI” may well come up. Its important to know what it means, because such knowledge will help you financially!


What is LOI?

LOI stands for “Length of interview”, and it refers to the average time, in minutes and seconds, that respondents will take to complete your questionnaire. This time is determined by the number and type of questions in the questionnaire.


LOI is one of the determinants of the cost of running a survey on a field and tab basis with a panel. The other determinants are the sample size and the sample incidence rate (IR). By field and tab, we mean “fieldwork and tabulation”. In other words, you (rather than the panel company) design your questionnaire, and the results are provided back to you by the panel in the form of tabulations (rather than Powerpoint charts, unless you specify otherwise).


When we say “running a survey with a panel”, we mean running a survey with respondents also being provided by the panel. So if you are running a survey with your own customers, that’s different.  But if you are asking a panel to run a survey with 500 people who meet certain demographic criteria, and the panel is to provide those people, then that’s a panel survey.


When LOI is relevant

If you are commissioning an online panel survey you will need to tell the panel the expected LOI in order for them to be able to give you a quote. You could do this by answering the questions in your questionnaire as though you were a respondent, and timing how long it takes.


Let’s say you have done this, commissioned a panel, and they have begun your survey.  That’s the time at which you should ask to see the LOI from the early results. These are often called the “soft launch” results.


Very often the soft launch LOI will be lower than you expected. If this is the case, that’s good for you because you can:


  • request a lower fee from the panel for the sample
  • request a higher sample size for no increase in fee
  • ask the panel to put some measures into the questionnaire to slow down respondents at certain questions
  • add further questions to the questionnaire


Going further with LOI

When you request the LOI from the soft launch you can ask for it on a respondent by respondent, rather than overall average, basis. Beware of any panel that will not give you this. Its basic information which they will be collecting. This information may shock you, because it could hide the fact that the overall average “LOI” looks okay, but it hides the fact that some respondents complete the questionnaire so quickly that they cannot possibly have read the questions. If this is the case you can agree a minimum “time to complete”.


If you would like to know any more, or would like us to quote for running a survey for you, please just contact us.

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