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Quirk’s, the leading publication for the market research industry covered the initial findings of our research on research in their late July E-Newsletter. More study details and findings will be available in the next few weeks.  Write us at if you would like to see the full report when it is published.

An ‘enhance’ment to tackle today’s tele-sampling challenges?

Quirk's The Quirk’s Article


Article Abstract: ReconMR conducted a self-funded study to explore and measure the efficiency of three distinct telephone samples: enhanced cell phone, random digit dialing cell phone and landline.

Editor’s note: Lyle Durbin is CEO of ReconMR, an Austin, Texas, research company. He can be reached at or at 877-732-6667. This article appeared in the July 22, 2013, edition of Quirk’s e-newsletter.





For quite some time, public opinion researchers have relied heavily on the telephone to reach random, unbiased samples that were projectable to any given population. Initially, this was easily achieved with virtually all households containing a telephone line via a landline that was answered frequently. But with Caller ID and the pervasiveness of cell phones, the landline is no longer the gold standard in gen-pop sampling.

Randomly-generated telephone samples of dedicated wireless numbers can augment a landline study but provide little in the way of accurately targeting smaller geographies and the low efficiency of these samples leads to higher project costs. This has left many researchers struggling to find the appropriate methodology to confidently sample general market populations.

Solve the sampling dilemma

“Enhanced” U.S. cell phone samples offer the potential to solve the random sampling dilemma. Utilizing the telephone survey center of ReconMR’s sister company, CRI, we conducted a self-funded research study to test the efficiency, representation and any potential bias from this new telephone sample. As part of a larger study exploring technology and media usage, 600 total respondents were interviewed across the state of Texas, with 200 surveys completed from each of three distinct telephone samples – enhanced cell phone, RDD cell phone and listed household landline. Scientific Telephone Samples provided all of the telephone numbers. Quotas were imposed to ensure each sample type contained proportionate geographic representation among the four largest Texas metropolitan areas (Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio). Because the landline sample offers opportunity for multiple household members to qualify for the study, quotas were imposed upon this sample to ensure an even gender distribution. No other quotas were implemented.

Very promising

The testing provided very promising results. Dramatic efficiency gains were observed with a much higher response rate coupled with fewer non-working numbers. This led to almost half as many telephone numbers required to complete the same number of interviews when utilizing the enhanced cell phone list. Even with the greater cost associated with this type of list, the increased efficiency of the sample leads to total fielding costs that are 20-30 percent lower than landline or RDD cell phone samples.

While lower costs are always welcome, they should not come at the sacrifice of proper representation. To examine this, ReconMR compared key demographics achieved from the three sample sources. With regard to age and race, both cell phone samples achieved samples much more proportionate to the general population than the landline sample. While the Census reports 34 percent of the adult population to be under the age of 35, the landline sample only produced 8.5 percent within this age category, while the enhanced cell phone sample achieved 31 percent and the RDD cell phone sample achieved 41 percent. Most importantly, very few differences were noted in both the makeup and attitudes of the enhanced cell phone sample and the RDD cell phone sample. With the disproportionate demographics within the landline sample, many differences were noted between this sample and both cell phone samples.

Much more representative

The ultimate goal of any research is to obtain a sample that proportionately represents the entire study universe, providing data that is projectable to the population. While the enhanced cell phone sample provides a representative, cost-effective sample list, it is important to recognize the potential groups that would not be included in this sample. Obviously, there still remains a significant and relevant population that does not have a cell phone.

Additionally, there exists some evidence from the study that respondents with lower income and lower education appear to have a lower likelihood of inclusion within the new enhanced cell phone sample. However, when used in conjunction with the traditional telephone sources, this new sample appears to reach important audiences that, without such a sample, would potentially be left out.



10 May 2013 | By Brian Tarran



US — ReconMR is offering access to a new ‘enhanced’ cellphone sample, which it claims has a higher completion rate and improved zip code accuracy over standard random digit dial (RDD) cellphone samples.

In a self-funded study, the company compared 200 completed surveys from each of three distinct samples – enhanced cellphone, RDD cellphone and landline.

In keeping with other studies, ReconMR found that both cellphone samples provided better demographic representation and a greater incidence of respondents aged 25 and under compared to landlines, which overrepresented older populations.

However, it found differences between the enhanced and standard cellphone samples in completion rates (12% versus 6%) and zip code accuracy (74% versus 10%).

Senior vice-president Sharon Munroe said that while the cost per record for the enhanced cellphone sample is “significantly higher” than RDD cellphone or landline, “the greater efficiency of the sample requires fewer records to be purchased and lower interviewing labour to reach respondents”.

“This results in an overall cost per interview, including both sample cost and interviewing labour, utilising the enhanced cellphone sample that is 20%-30% less expensive than interviews utilising RDD cellphone sample or landline sample,” she said.






As mentioned in Research Magazine, ReconMR recently conducted a self-funded study on a key issue for many market researchers: declining response rates to consumer surveys. The study explores and measures the efficiency of three distinct telephone samples – Enhanced Cell Phone, Random Digit Dialing Cell Phone, and Landline.

Recently consumer market researchers and those who measure public opinion have been faced with the overarching dilemma of declining response rates in surveys, especially telephone surveys. With Caller ID technologies that enable potential respondents to screen telephone calls, in addition to the high rate of adoption of cell phones, landline samples are now less efficient and can lead to higher project costs. “Newly released ‘enhanced’ cell phone samples offer great potential to solve this random sampling dilemma,” according to Lyle Durbin, CEO and the study’s author.

Using our Telephone Interviewing Center at Customer Research International (CRI), our sister company in San Marcos, TX, ReconMR conducted a self-funded research study to test the efficiency, representation and any potential bias from this new telephone sample. 600 Total telephone surveys were completed across the state of Texas, with 200 surveys completed from each of three distinct telephone samples – Enhanced Cell Phone, Random Digit Dialing (RDD) Cell Phone, and Landline. Data was collected and analyzed to compare response rates, cooperation rates, geographic accuracy, and demographic representation among these three telephone sample sources.

The study’s key findings on Sampling point to the representativeness, efficiency and cost effectiveness of cell phone samples:

  • Cell phone samples (Enhanced and RDD) provided much better demographic representation compared to the landline sample.
  • Specifically, respondents under the age of 25 represented 18% of the Enhanced Cell Phone sample and 20% of the RDD Cell Phone Sample, while only 4% of the Landline sample.
  • Landline sample significantly overrepresented the 55 and older population at 68%, the Enhanced Cell Phone sample contained 31% among this demographic and the RDD Cell Phone sample contained 26%.
  • Racial representation was also much better, with both cell phone samples containing twice as many Hispanic respondents as the landline sample.

Demographically, the enhanced cell phone sample closely matches the RDD cell phone, with very few differences noted. Furthermore, enhanced cell phone sample has a much higher response rate and efficiency.

  • Approximately 12% of the Enhanced Cell Phone list achieved a completed survey, compared with 6% for both the RDD Cell Phone sample and Landline sample.
  • Although the Enhanced Cell Phone list is more expensive, this higher efficiency will keep pricing in-line with traditional landline studies.

The enhanced cell phone sample proved very accurate for targeting geographies on the zip code level.

  • 74% of zip codes indicated on the Enhanced Cell Phone sample were accurate, compared with only a 10% accuracy rate on the RDD cell phone list.
  • This represents a major breakthrough for consumer studies in particular, allowing small geographies to be targeted for cell phone surveying. Previously, cell phone surveys were limited to a county-level target, with only a 55% incidence of the respondent residing within the desired county.

About ReconMR
ReconMR is an Austin-based marketing research firm that consults with the leading brands on custom research solutions to fuel their growth. The firm is focused on enterprise clients’ primary research needs for strategic decision-making and prides itself on blending sound marketing science and innovative research designs in its hands-on work. ReconMR is a full-service agency ready to address the toughest questions with both consumer and business decision-makers and provide innovative approaches that guide decision-making in the highest levels of large organizations, including Technology companies and Retailers. For more information, visit or call (877) ReconMR (732-6667).



Telephone Interviewing at Our Own Centers

Having 200+ combined seats (for computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI)) between the Tempe and San Marcos call centers helps ReconMR significantly. In any given month, we conduct 10,000 or more consumer and business interviews with high quality and the latest technology and techniques.

Some of the best practices we’ve implemented to make our operations outstanding are as follows:

Dialing Cell Phones: While including dedicated to wireless telephone numbers within our sample frames has been a practice for many years now, a greater efficiency along with a greater necessity has been luring more and more clients to include this segment within their studies. Overall, response rates among cell phone samples have been increasing as respondents are less resistant to this form of interviewing. We’ve found that acknowledging that we’ve called them on their cell phone (proactively dealing with that objection) is a very effective strategy for increasing cooperation. Our sample providers have also been making great strides in procuring more efficient samples with new enhancements being introduced regularly.

Sample management: We’re able to implement sophisticated sampling techniques including cluster and replicate sample. We have a team of highly skilled information managers who are constantly reviewing and improving our sample management procedures. While our standard dialing algorithms ensure respondents are attempted multiple times (at least five attempts) at varying times of the day and week, we also work with clients to implement more specific, custom requirements to meet their needs.

Bilingual Interviewing: Between the two call centers, over 800 hours of Spanish interviewing is available each month in order to include this important segment of Spanish dominant speakers in our research projects.

New and Improved Quality Assurance (QA) Department We’ve changed the name of the department from “Remoting department” to Quality Assurance, complete with 5  QA Agents and a QA Manager. Their focus has shifted from listening to and correcting the technical aspects of interviewing, to building a more complete interviewer through frequent and consistent coaching across all Key Performance Indicators to maintain quality, increase efficiency and productivity, and make sure our interviewers are polite and professional on all calls.