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Surveys: A constant struggle
Why creating a survey and sending it out is not enough. (29.10.2021)
Förderjahr 2020 / Stipendien Call #15 / ProjektID: 5035 / Projekt: Legal issues of user tracking technologies used by Austrian enterprises

Current state

After months of struggling to find the right approach to my survey and even more to finally get contact data for Austrian enterprises, I have now reached the point where nobody is answering my survey. So far, I only have a low single digit number of responses.

There are many reasons why, I listed some of them below:

  • Data quality: After sending out my first wave of emails and checking for non-deliverable addresses, I finally took a closer look at the contact information I obtained via trend magazine. Unfortunately, I realised I mostly got general addresses (e.g. office@[company].at) or customer service addresses. There were very little personalised email addresses, which would have been helpful to actually reach someone who might take interest in my survey. 
  • Spam filters: Soon after the first wave of emails was sent, I got informed that most of my emails have been marked as Spam or Phishing attempt. Together with the aforementioned poor data quality meant that most of my emails stayed unread and my survey therefore unanswered.
  • Language: Due to the fact that my entire study program is in English, my Master thesis is expected to be written in English too. Trying to be consistent, and also because some of the Top 500 Austrian enterprises are just a branch of an internationally operation company, I drew up my survey and the regarding email in English as well. However, it was pointed out to me that employees of an Austrian enterprise might have preferred a German email. Therefore, I opted for a German text in my reminder email.
  • Unclear instructions: As most of the contact information was rather general, I relied on the staff of the contacted companies to forward my email to most suitable person inside the regarding company. Unfortunately, my instructions on who this person could be, seemed not clear enough. I also tried to clarify those for my reminder emails.
  • Email servers: For my reminder emails, I opted to use the TU Wien student mail server. I contacted TU.it in advance trying to avoid any issues in the process. However, the email address I used for sending out my survey was blocked after a fifth of the reminder emails. 

What now?

The data quality in the file received from trend magazine might not be sufficient to successfully reach Austrian enterprises via email. But, it might be sufficient to realise the idea of a web scraper as mentioned in my previous blog post. Back then, I discarded the idea due the simple fact that I would have needed a list of websites of Austrian enterprises to "feed" the web scraper with and I could not find one. Now, I own such a list and it might get me even better results than any survey could have. 

Tanja Travnicek

Female avatar
I am a Master student of Business Informatics at TU Wien, where I also finished my Bachelor in "Medieninformatik und Visual Computing". Throughout my studies, I specialised in certain areas of organisation, law and security.
Additionally, I am employed as IT consultant and responsible for one of Austria's major learning managment systems.
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