What is the population of interest?

If you’re starting to create a study or perform market research, then you’ll need to identify the population of interest early on in the process. Understanding and identifying the population of interest will inform everything from survey design to how you’ll find appropriate respondents. Plus, understanding that population can help you develop appropriate marketing for your business.

The population of interest is the group about which you want to gather information and draw conclusions. That group could consist of individuals or institutions.

For example, if you run a business that sells a certain brand of cell phones directly to consumers, your population of interest would be people who buy cell phones. If your business offers commercial security solutions, your population of interest would be business owners who use security solutions. And if you’re performing research on the home-buying habits of millennials, your population of interest might be millennials who have bought or plan to buy a home.

How to identify the population of interest

Identifying the right population of interest plays a key role in the success of your research. Defining that audience is a multistep process. Here’s what you need to do.

Determine your goals

Start by identifying your goals for your study or survey. Think about the end results you want to achieve, as well as the overall purpose for your study. Start to identify broad characteristics of your population of interest, such as whether you’re looking for respondents of a certain age, gender, background, or location.

Identify inclusion criteria

Inclusion criteria help you more clearly define the qualities that an individual needs to have in order to be in your population of interest. Ultimately, everyone in your population of interest will share these qualities.

For example, your inclusion criteria might stipulate that an individual must have made a certain type of purchase within a certain time period. You might require that an individual have a certain income range, drive a particular type of car, own a home, have children, own a certain type of pet, and more.

Determine exclusion criteria

Just as inclusion criteria identify individuals who’ll be part of your population of interest, exclusion criteria help you to determine who shouldn’t be part of that population. Individuals who meet a single exclusion criterion shouldn’t be in your population of interest.

When determining exclusion criteria, think about factors that are deal breakers and would skew the data you collect. For example, if you’re conducting a survey about customers’ experiences with your company’s customer service after buying a TV, a customer who bought a TV from a different retailer wouldn’t provide you with helpful or relevant information. Exclusion criteria can be just about anything, from an age to a location to a certain income range and more.

How to sample a population of interest

Once you’ve identified your population of interest, you’ll need to determine how to sample that population. There are several ways to accomplish this.

When you use probability sampling, your sample includes everyone in your population of interest and you give everyone an equal chance of being selected. This is a bias-free approach to sampling.

With non-probability sampling, bias exists. This type of sampling is often based on your ability to access people in your population of interest. If your population included every lawyer in the United States, you would have to use a non-probability sampling approach, since reaching every lawyer is impractical.

How you can use Jotform to conduct surveys and polls

Surveys and polls can help you gather data from your population of interest, providing you with valuable information. With Jotform, it’s easy to create your own surveys and polls.

Jotform offers more than 10,000 free online form templates that you can use to create your survey or poll. The templates are all fully customizable, and you can even personalize them with your business colors or logo.

The templates can save you time when you’re creating a survey, or you can easily build your own survey from scratch, thanks to Jotform’s user-friendly drag-and-drop form builder. Features like conditional logic allow you to tailor your forms to your users’ responses for a better and more accurate user experience.

Once you’ve created your survey or form, you can easily share it in many different ways. Jotform gives you the ability to embed it in a website, send an email with a URL to the form, or create a unique link to share the form.

Jotform Tables simplifies the process of collecting and reviewing form data. It can automatically collect, organize, and manage your form responses, so you can more easily review responses in real time.

Once you identify your population of interest, Jotform can help you not only create your survey or poll, but send them to the specific audience that should receive them. With a clearly defined population of interest, you can make your market research or study more effective and accurate.

Photo by Michal Biernat on Unsplash

A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for Inc.com, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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