Targeting the right survey audience

If you are developing a survey, you probably have a broad idea of the audience you want to reach, right? But with all of the options out there for reaching potential respondents, how do you target the right survey audience?

Let’s start with some basics.


Demographics are populations based on age, sex, income level, employment, education, etc. You probably have a general sense of the age range, gender, and location of the people you want to reach – you may even know the income ranges and education levels.

There are other ways of targeting your audience as well – including psychographics (personality, values, lifestyles), behavioral attributes (loyalty, habits), firmographics (number of employees, functions), even technographics (attitudes toward technology, adoption rates).

In most cases, a combination of demographic, psychographic and behavioral attributes can help you reach your ideal target audience.  Pollfish pre-screens all of our respondents, enabling you to select from a mix of predefined criteria to build exactly the audience you want to survey, without having to ask those questions yourself.

However, sometimes your ideal audience target is more narrowly defined, which is where advanced filtering comes into play.

Advanced filtering

If you want to find a certain audience based on factors like their behaviors, opinions, or exposure to events, you can ask a screening question.

Screening questions help you reach the target audience that will meet your criteria. A screening question, when worded properly, will disqualify those respondents who may be a fit from a demographic standpoint but aren’t an exact fit for your specific research needs.  You can find out more about screening questions here.

Finding The Right Type of Survey Target Audience

Unfortunately, not all survey respondents are created equal.  One option is to go to a provider that uses research panels.  Panels consist of people who agree in advance to take surveys, often by email, in exchange for a predetermined benefit (monetary payments, prepaid credit cards and airline points are the most common incentives.) There are benefits of using a research panel, including:

  • Detailed audience profiling
  • Ability to target B2B audiences
  • Established approach

However, there are downsides as well, including:

  • Cost of panels—survey respondents are paid directly for their participation, which gets passed on to the client
  • Speed (or lack thereof)—traditional panel-based surveys can take a significant amount of time to complete
  • Randomization—respondents may not be selected randomly, and may not be representative of the broader population
  • Data Quality from panelists—aggregate incentives offered by panels can lead to “professional survey takers”, resulting in flawed data
  • Limited Availability—panels have to be built from scratch for each new market they enter, which can result in delays and lack of availability

Organic RDE Sampling

Surveying via organic RDE methodology—such as on Pollfish’s network—provides the benefits of scale, convenience, and fast response rates, while also saving on cost, providing high-quality data, and access to a variety of sample populations that can help you to reach the target market you are seeking for your survey.