FAQ: How we work

FAQ: How we work

Longitude is a specialist thought leadership agency, and we regularly use research and design to help underpin our storytelling, as part of producing compelling content based on original insights. This page aims to provide specific details on how we conduct our research, and our standard operating approach for both quantitative and qualitative research inputs. In addition, we also detail our approach to creating digital and design assets.

It’s important to note upfront that we’re not a market research outfit. All of our research is explicitly focussed on providing fresh insights for the thought leadership content that we create for our clients.

GDPR and Data Privacy

Quantitative data and research

Qualitative data and interviews

Digital and design: Bringing your content to life

GDPR and Data Privacy

What is GDPR?

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC and was designed to harmonise data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens’ data privacy and to reshape the way organisations across the region approach data privacy.

How is GDPR applicable to Longitude’s quantitative research work?

GDPR applies to all companies processing and holding the personal data of data subjects residing in the European Union, regardless of the company’s location. Therefore, GDPR is applicable to organisations who collect, store, process, transfer, and / or dispose of data related to EU residents.

When it comes to conducting quantitative market research, Longitude does not manage personal data/personal identifiable information (IIP) of respondents residing in the EU. Instead Longitude employs a roster of data collection agencies who recruit participants into their networks or panels with the sole purpose of taking part in market research studies on behalf of their (fieldwork vendors’) clients. Longitude does not engage in any contact including soliciting, liaising, coordinating or corresponding with fieldwork vendors’ panel members.

To uphold the principles of GDPR and the ethos of ethical research, no personal data (such as name, company name, address, email address, IP address etc.) is shared with Longitude by our fieldwork vendors during fieldwork. In this instance, because Longitude is utilising summary level information from its fieldwork vendors, Longitude is therefore neither controlling nor processing personal data when conducting surveys on behalf of clients. The only exception is when conducting qualitative recruitment, where specific permission and consent is obtained from our interviewees. See the section on qualitative interviews for more information on this.

How does Longitude ensure its fieldwork vendors are GDPR compliant?

All fieldwork vendors used by Longitude are engaged under contract and agree that they: Ensure that no personally-identifiable information relating to its research subjects is disclosed to Longitude in connection with the provision of the Services and/or any Deliverable to Longitude, or otherwise in connection with their engagement by Longitude. If they do have to process personal data, such vendors agree that they will:

  • Ensure they comply with their obligations under data protection law;
  • Ensure appropriate security measure are in place in order to protect any personal data;
  • If applicable, notify Longitude of any changes in its ability to transfer any personal data to Longitude or any other third party;
  • Notify Longitude of any security breaches or complaints and where necessary assist Longitude with rectifying such matters.

Quantitative data and research

How do Longitude’s fieldwork vendors identify appropriate respondents for a survey?

Longitude’s fieldwork partners identify suitable candidates to participate either from their existing panel or from publicly available databases. However, their suitability for participation is then qualified during the survey process by questions related to job title, role, function and decision making responsibilities. Only those respondents with the necessary qualifications will then complete the survey. Typical sources for identifying potential respondents vary, but can include:

  1. List building: participants are recruited from B2B databases and business list providers. These databases include Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and Dun & Bradstreet, among others.
  2. Respondent identification: potential recruits are verified via professional networking websites such as LinkedIn, or directly from corporate websites, to ensure potential respondents are credible.
  3. Respondent contact: respondents are contacted via telephone on their business numbers.

How does Longitude obtain consent to contact prospective sample respondents?

Whenever new or additional contacts from LinkedIn, Zoominfo, Dun & Bradstreet or other sources are approached, the fieldwork partner obtains consent and provides details on its privacy policy on the initial email, which asks whether they are interested in participating. These approaches and requests for consent are made on the grounds of legitimate business interest, due to the relevance of our research in relation to the target individual’s profile. These emails:

  • Explain how the fieldwork partner obtained their contact details;
  • Explain the purpose of the research;
  • Provides details of the privacy policy, in terms of how their personal information will be used;
  • Explains that the contact has the option to have their data removed from the fieldwork partner’s database and not to be contacted again.

How does Longitude select its fieldwork vendors?

We only work with a select range of fieldwork vendors who comply with our quality and process requirements, and who meet our compliance standards. All of our fieldwork vendors are engaged under contracts, which sets out, among other things, our vendor compliance requirements and expectations of them as regards data protection laws.

We have been working with most of our fieldwork vendors for many years so we have strong relationships with them, and clearly established ways of working. To support this, we seek to do annual on-site visits to all of our offshore fieldwork vendors, and more regular visits to any of our onshore UK-based fieldwork vendors.

In addition, we continually review our fieldwork vendor shortlist in conjunction with our client needs and/or changes in innovation and technology. We review their previous and current projects, we seek referrals and recommendations and we test them to ensure they can provide the type of high-calibre samples and trustworthy support that our clients need and expect. Any survey fieldwork providers that we’ve tested and who do not meet our quality bar are permanently removed from our fieldwork vendor shortlists.

What data does Longitude receive from its fieldwork vendors?

For quantitative research, Longitude’s fieldwork vendors are only allowed to share survey responses in an aggregated and anonymised form. When sharing raw data, fieldwork vendors must anonymize the data and ensure participants cannot be identified personally either through their responses or due to the features of the universe they are recruited from.

What steps does Longitude take to ensure high quality survey data?

Longitude’s quality assurance processes are handled over four distinct aspects of a typical project: 1. Survey questionnaire review:

  • At a basic level, our editorial team holds regular training on survey design, to ensure that we’re conceptualising and designing our research questionnaires to best deliver on their target outcomes. We are acutely conscious that bad design delivers bad results.
  • We review the questionnaire in relation to the underlying hypotheses being explored within the study, to ensure it is going to deliver on the overall objectives.
  • Our research operations team reviews all questionnaires to ensure that they have the correct routing, respondent instructions, scripting instructions, length of survey and quotas included in them. They also add logic checks to the questionnaire, which are designed to help screen out poor-quality respondents.
  • We hold briefing calls with all of our trusted partners who are working on a project to ensure that we are all aligned on the project and that the survey matches the project specifications.
  • Thorough link checking is conducted before we launch fieldwork.

2. Fieldwork process:

  • At the outset of fieldwork, we conduct a “soft launch” period, which is used to verify that questions and screen outs are working as intended, and that the data is in line with the expected parameters.
  • Beyond this soft launch phase, which is typically done at the 5-10% completion point, we conduct additional testing and reviews at the 25%, 50%, 75%, 90% and 100% completion points, removing any bad quality completes in terms of bad open ends, flatliners, speeders and outliers. Some of these processes are automated, whereas others are done manually.
  • We closely monitor quotas during fieldwork, to ensure that we’re reaching the desired targets and objectives.
  • We regularly check for questions where respondents are especially prone to drop offs, to ensure that questions are clear and not too onerous.
  • We monitor and update logic checks, to ensure these are performing as planned.
  • All open-ended questions are reviewed and filtered, with poor quality respondents rejected and replaced.
  • We periodically check in and listen to call records on CATI-based projects, to assess that the fieldwork is being conducted appropriately.

3. Data delivery:

  • All data tables are thoroughly checked to ensure accuracy, that they match the data processing specifications and include the correct cross-breaks, significance testing and net scores.
  • A final review of all open-end responses is conducted, along with additional checks for speeders, straight-liners, and other standard checks.

What platform does Longitude use to host its surveys?

Our survey data is hosted on the Decipher survey platform. A scripted link is sent to our fieldwork vendors, who in turn use this to collect respondents from their panels or outreach. This outreach process is handled outside of Decipher to avoid sharing of any personal contact information, but all survey responses are captured and collected in Decipher. No personal information is captured by Longitude (eg, IP addresses, names of respondents, company names, etc).

How are surveys branded?

By default, all our surveys are Longitude-branded. Depending on the nature of the study and the survey type, Longitude can also conduct client-branded surveys. See below more input on to what extent a survey can be client-branded.

Are survey respondents aware of Longitude’s end-client during fieldwork?

In most cases, to avoid bias, respondents are only informed about the survey topic. In some circumstances, providing a Longitude client agrees, the identity of the client is revealed at the recruitment stage to help boost survey response rate. In this case, Longitude will seek written consent from the client.

Can Longitude reveal the identities of organisations who have completed a survey?

No, this is not legally permissible under the regulation and guidelines we operate within. To help reinforce this, Longitude does not have exposure to specific organisations being represented in the survey, other than for specific quality review escalations. When requested, based on the criteria, Longitude can share an indicative list of companies that match the profile of the target companies. There is no guarantee that any of the organisations present in the indicative list will be part of the survey.

Can indicative respondent profiles be shared for review before a survey is launched?

Yes. Before fieldwork commences, Longitude can share an indicative profile of expected survey respondents on request. This will always be anonymised but will have job titles as an indication to the types of respondents taking part in the survey, to help confirm the appropriate fit of the targeted audience.

How do you define C-suite, C-1 and C-2 in your survey specifications?

The majority of our surveys are targeted at senior executives within various organisations, in particular the so-called “C-suite” executives that lead companies. These roles encompass a range of positions, such as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), and so on. Depending on the focus of the theme and target companies, this upper-most rung of executives might also include Founders/Co-Founders, Managing Directors, or similar. Board Members might also be a relevant target, but would usually be defined specifically, if they are a relevant target. This group is especially well suited to comment on topics relating to strategy, key business priorities and decisions, stakeholder management, policies, leadership, and so on.

Most executive surveys aim to target these C-suite respondents along with a mix of their direct reports, or what we term “C-1”, which are considered to be very senior levels of management. Terminology can vary by region and industry, but these are typically considered to be Heads of Departments, Senior Directors or Directors, Senior Vice Presidents and Vice Presidents, and similar. This group is especially well suited to comment on issues relating to implementation of company strategy, team oversight and management, and so on.

To broaden the reach and feasibility of some surveys, and/or where it’s relevant to the theme, we often also focus one further rung down the management ladder, or what we term “C-2”. These are typically considered to be Senior Managers, and are part of the company’s strand of middle management. This group is especially well suited to comment on more granular issues within the business, such as day-to-day management, oversight of working groups, the implementation of specific changes or technologies or transformations, operational processes, and so on.

Levels of seniority below this level, such as Managers, Junior Managers, or other similar lower-level management roles, are generally considered to be part of a general workforce sample, and not usually included within a C-1 or C-2 designation. This audience is typically less suited to commenting on specific or detailed business issues, other than those that relate to the overall organisation, such as business culture, perceptions of the leadership team, and so on.

Our recommendation regarding the ideal level of respondent seniority takes into consideration who will be the most appropriate respondent for the topic being discussed, e.g. which level of respondent will have the greatest knowledge of this topic, along with other considerations such as cost and timeframe – the most senior respondents being less numerous and therefore more difficult and expensive to source for interview. We generally find that a mix of seniority levels makes for a robust sample as it ensures we get a broad perspective from across the organisations in scope.

Can Longitude survey the Financial Times’ readership?

Unfortunately not. An implicit part of the Financial Times’ (FT’s) commitment to its global readership (as per its Reader Charter), is to maintain the highest levels of trust, privacy and user experience. As part of this, the FT does not allow sponsors to buy access to this audience for commercial purposes, such as research surveys. Naturally, the audiences we survey have a high degree of correlation with the FT’s typical readership, but these respondents are not asked to participate as a result of their FT subscription. Naturally, surveys aside, we can provide options to distribute your content to the FT’s readership, for example, via the FT’s Partner Content advertising offerings.

Can we include questions about brand perceptions, or our products and services?

No, Longitude is not a market research firm. As such, we do not conduct any studies exploring brand perceptions, or what audiences think about a particular brand’s products or services. We do, however, conduct studies that seek to better understand the thinking and preferences of a particular target audience, as part of helping our clients better plan their thought leadership content campaigns. For example, we regularly do studies on how specific C-suite audiences, or executives within a particular sector, like to consume content, or what topics they want to get fresh insights about.

Can we supply our own survey questionnaire?

Yes, potentially. We would first need to review the suitability of your questions, to confirm they are appropriate for delivering solid thought leadership outcomes, before agreeing to this. Almost always, we will seek to make recommendations on how a questionnaire can be improved, in order to deliver better results (eg, ensuring questions are framed appropriately; it’s not a market research set of questions; it avoids references to products and services; and so on).

However, we appreciate that there are instances whereby a client may have been running a repeat tracker study for some time, and would like us to take this over without changing the questions. Subject to our review, this would be no problem – and we would make an appropriate reduction to the overall costs to reflect this.

What is CAWI and CATI? Which methodology does Longitude use?

  • CAWI stands for Computer Assisted Web Interviews. This is an online survey that is self completed by a respondent.
  • CATI stands for Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews. This is where an interviewer calls a respondent and fills in their answers into an online script.

Longitude makes use of either CAWI and/or CATI when sourcing its respondents to surveys, depending on the nature of the sample being targeted. CAWI respondents are typically cheaper and quicker to source, but this method can be more challenging for senior respondents, whereas CATI can be useful for targeting very specific, senior or niche respondents.

Are survey respondents incentivised?

Wherever possible, potential respondents are targeted in relation to their direct interest or experience of the topic under consideration, to ensure a good fit. However, as part of their recruitment strategy, our fieldwork vendors may sometimes incentivise potential respondents to gather responses. These incentives vary by vendor, but examples include:

  • Charitable donations on the respondent’s behalf;
  • Industry reports from the studies they take part in (with the end client’s consent) or strategic reports compiled by data collection agencies;
  • Access to digital subscriptions, such as the Financial Times;
  • Loyalty points or airmiles;
  • Invitations to events;
  • The chance to win prizes, such as electronic goods.

Note that Longitude would not offer incentives for any surveys being fielded to a Client’s contact list.

Can we send a copy of the final research report to the survey respondents?

Yes, if required, we can send a copy of the final research findings or report to survey participants as a PDF document or similar. This is sent via the relevant fieldwork vendor(s) used for the research, as Longitude does not hold any personal data with regards to the survey respondents. However, we are not able to send any other requests to this audience, such as invitations to events or webinars, or opt-in/registration links to receive further information from a third party, as our fieldwork vendors have a commitment to their respondents with regards to the nature of the information they will share with them and do not permit this.

What’s a minimum credible sample for a survey?

There are two core ways to approach minimum samples: one is to think about what is considered statistically significant for comparison (which suggests a minimum of 30 per segmentation), and the other is to consider whether your sample is a reasonable representation of the universe you’re trying to target. For example, a survey of 200 British consumers isn’t very impressive when you consider that there are nearly 67 million people in the UK. However, if this was a survey of 200 Swedish CEOs, this would be a sizable proportion of the total population of Swedish CEOs. In short, minimum sample sizes will shift in proportion to how broad or niche your target audience is.

The minimum credible sample size that we’d suggest for a B2B study is 100 respondents. This will give a basic sample for analysing data at an overall level, but it won’t be large enough to look at specific groups within this sample, e.g. regions or industries. However, unless this is a very niche audience, we would typically recommend a minimum sample size of 200-300 respondents for a B2B audience.

When comparing segmentations within a single sample, we’d suggest a minimum of 50 respondents per target segmentation. So, for example, if you wished to compare 10 countries against each other, you’d need a minimum sample size of 500 overall.

Consumer studies require higher sample sizes. A good rule of thumb for a multi-country study is to ensure at least 500-1000 consumers per country, to allow for analysis by age group, gender and regions. For a single-country study, we note that sources such as BBC News considers a UK-wide sample of 2,000 respondents to be newsworthy, so this informs our minimum recommendation on sample size.

Longitude will always advise clients on what we’d recommend and how to get the most out of your budget, in relation to your target outcome and desired analysis. Naturally, higher sample sizes sound more impressive, but we’re conscious that this comes at a higher cost that could also be invested in making more out of your overall thought leadership investment.

Is it possible to correlate survey results with the underlying performance of those respondents’ companies?

Yes, in particular circumstances. This can be a useful technique for helping to explore for any correlation between what a set of respondents are doing (eg, prioritising a specific strategy or approach relative to others) and some measure(s) of performance of their businesses (eg, revenue growth rate, or profitability, or similar).

This outcome can be achieved in one of two ways.

First, by asking survey respondents to share some insights on the overall performance of their business. Note that this may not work well when the targeted survey demographic is not necessarily close to their organisation’s specific financial performance measures or feel unsure about sharing specifics, and may thus only give a very broad or indicative sense of those metrics (eg, EBITDA, or stock price growth). Rather, we recommend focussing survey questions on more relevant measures of performance that are likely to be understood by all respondents (eg, employee engagement, productivity levels, whether people consider it to be an innovative business, or cultural norms).

Second, by gathering publicly-available financial data on a given company, which can be anonymously appended to this respondent’s overall survey results. This is a far more accurate method for hard financial metrics, but it is only feasible to collect for companies that publicly publish their financial results (eg, listed entities). It is not possible to gather this for private companies that do not publish their results.

For anyone wanting to conduct this method of analysis, there are some important considerations to bear in mind:

  1. Correlation does not suggest causality. Even if we show that companies that, say, invest more in digital transformation tend to be more profitable, this does not necessarily suggest that it was as a result of their digital transformation efforts. It’s important to be open about this, and it shouldn’t detract from it being an interesting point to report.
  2. The data supporting this kind of correlation is usually very noisy. In short, countless factors help to drive growth and profitability, or other common measures of performance. It can also be the case that highly profitable companies are also hugely inefficient (eg, due to holding a monopoly position), or for a highly efficient business to be unprofitable (eg, as a result of investing heavily for the future). At best, we’d look to establish a rough correlation between the key point(s) being explored in a study, and the performance measure(s) being compared against.
  3. Cause and effect can often be better demonstrated by making comparison on narrower and more relevant areas of performance. For example, for a study exploring strategies and priorities around HR, asking respondents to give a view on how engaged and productive they believe their colleagues are, or what morale levels are like. Regardless of position, people usually have a much better feel for these softer attributes, ahead of hard metrics, and these may well be more interesting and relevant to report on.

In what data formats can Longitude provide survey data? And what is included by default?

Our standard data deliverable is Excel-based data tables with approximately 5 cross breaks, typically based against the core demographic questions in the survey (eg, region, sector, company size, etc). This includes a chart for each question representing the overall topline response. We can also deliver the “raw” line-by-line respondent data in Excel, or as an SPSS file, should you wish to run further analysis in your own tools.

In addition, many of our clients request a presentation summarising the key findings of the study. This can be delivered as either a static PowerPoint presentation, or else an interactive digital presentation (using the Infogram platform). More custom data formats and requests can be discussed on request.

What data analysis capabilities does Longitude offer?

Longitude offers a range of data analysis capabilities. We are experts at both the analysis, and at fitting the most appropriate approach to each project, ensuring the data is shaped in a way that best fits the content plan and deliverables. Depending on the nature of the study, some examples of analysis techniques we often deliver include:

  • Leader/laggard analysis – using the survey data, we identify the businesses or consumers at the leading edge (or indeed the back of the pack) for specific behaviours, solution adoption, etc. We are then able to profile these leaders and laggards to identify key characteristics and diagnose the factors behind their positioning.
  • Survey-based indexes or ranking – when conducting this type of analysis we design our questionnaire in a way that allows us to convert survey data into an index, enabling us to rank businesses or consumers on their capabilities in a particular area. This research technique is often used to drive leader/laggard analysis or create the data required for benchmark tools.
  • Personas – we conduct cluster analysis on survey data to create behavioural and attitudinal segments of businesses and consumers. This enables us to deliver pen portraits of typical segments, and bring the analysis to life
  • Barometers – we analyse our survey data, and combine it with real world metrics (e.g. Eurostat) to compare performance or behaviours across countries, regions, or other market segments. This is something we recently did for Intrum as part of our work on their European Consumer Payment report.

Learn more about our research offerings here.

Can a survey be hosted in a Client’s brand?

Where required, we can field a survey in our Client’s brand (for example, if a client wishes to survey its own contact list). To support this, we can adapt the survey in the following ways:

  • Add your logo to the survey page (we require a high-resolution image file of your logo, ideally in .PNG or .JPG format). The position of the logo is fixed to the top-left of the screen.
  • Add links to your privacy policy on the survey page footer
  • Create a link to your website from the end page
  • Change the colour of the background, text and buttons.
  • If required, we can use a custom font, but are limited to the Google font library.
  • Note that the position of questions, answer options and buttons are fixed within the system and cannot be changed.

Any other changes would require bespoke development and would be subject to an extra charge.

Can Longitude help survey a contact list provided by a Client?

Yes, in part. Longitude cannot view or engage with a client’s client data or lists, as this would be a breach of our data policies. However, we can provide you with a survey link that can be distributed to any potential respondents you plan to target (either a single dynamic link, or a series of unique links – see next question for more information on these links).

No personal data will be captured by Longitude within this survey, which means we would not be able to confirm which of your contacts had responded or not. Longitude’s exposure in this instance is only limited to scripting and data processing (through third party subcontractors). Clients that deploy a survey via unique links (see next question) could use this to determine which contacts had replied and completed the survey.

If Longitude has also committed to sourcing a survey sample, then any Client-sourced sample would not count towards Longitude’s overall target, but would instead act as a “top up” sample to increase the overall pool of responses. Note that the survey link we would provide would remain identical to the existing Longitude-branded survey, unless a different version has been priced in separately.

Given we are not able to review your lists or contact data, we cannot explicitly de-duplicate any repeat respondents. However, it is highly unlikely that there would be such overlap unless you carried out a major campaign around the identical target audience that Longitude is polling. In the unlikely event that someone does receive the link twice, it is almost certain that they would not go through the entire process of completing the same survey twice. So in practice, there is very limited risk.

For Clients that seek to deploy this survey to their contacts, Longitude can provide a weekly update on the response rate. For the avoidance of doubt, please note that the client is responsible for data quality of respondents sourced via a client database, and the client is also responsible for the number of completes achieved, and related timings. Note that delays on this may have a wider impact on overall project timings.

Can we test the survey link before launching fieldwork? 

Yes, definitely. Longitude will provide you with a reusable test link for testing purposes. Note that feedback on the link needs to be consolidated and documented clearly in the change log provided. We ask for all feedback to be received in one batch, and within the agreed timeframe, to avoid any delay to the proposed launch date. Delays may have a wider impact on project timings as well. The below demo link will give you a good idea of the look and feel of different question types we use, as well as how the programmed link will look overall. Demo link: https://uk.focusvision.com/survey/selfserve/21b6/201101?list=0 /a>

Qualitative data and research

Can Longitude help source and conduct “on the record” interviews, to be named and quoted?

Yes, this is a research input that we recommend for most of our studies, usually to help complement and bring to life the quantitative data that is often being collected in addition to this. Our editorial team regularly helps to source and conduct interviews with experts and executives, which are in turn can be quoted within any content being produced by Longitude on behalf of our clients. We’ve done interviews with a broad range of C-suite executives, including CEOs or CFOs, as well as a broad range of other CHROs, CIOs, CISOs, board members, heads of innovation, non-executive directors, and other senior executives. We also regularly interview and profile newer or emerging CXO functions, such as Chief Resilience Officers, Chief Digital Officers, and Chief Diversity Officers. These interviews are either sourced directly by Longitude, or else via our client’s contact list/network. At times, we also draw on external fieldwork vendors to help source (but not conduct) interviewees for us.

How long is a typical interview? How are they conducted? And can we help define what questions are asked? 

Our typical interviews last for about 45 minutes. Of course, some interviewees are willing to speak for up to an hour, and others request that we keep to just half an hour, all of which we are happy to comply with. Interviews are nearly always done over the phone, given the geographically dispersed nature of our studies and the experts and executives we seek to interview for these. However, some interviewees ask to submit their answers in writing, especially for people who are not native language English speakers and are thus not comfortable discussing the issues live on the phone, which we are also happy to accept. From time to time, we’re asked to conduct interviews in person (eg, for very high profile contacts of our clients), which we are also willing to do, subject to an extra charge, and relevant T&E costs.

Prior to us conducting any interviews, we will prepare a detailed interview guide with 10-15 indicative questions that we aim to cover. We will agree this guide in advance with our clients, and welcome your thoughts and input on potential questions to consider (except in the case of FT Focus-branded studies, whereby the FT’s editorial guidelines prohibit us from sharing our interview guides). It’s important to note that we handle all interviews in a journalistic style, rather than as a strictly structured script, in order to get the most value out of these calls. That means that if an interviewee has a particularly interesting viewpoint or issue or example they’ve raised, we’ll often seek to dive into more depth on that, potentially at the expense of other questions in our guide. Of course, we will always ensure that the fundamentally core questions for the study are covered.

What is an appropriate number of interviewees to conduct for our study?

As a rule of thumb, wherever possible, we recommend a mix of both quantitative and qualitative research inputs to help ensure a study is credible. Within this, a desirable target number of interviewees depends on a range of factors, including the purpose of the content, the desired target length, and your budget, all of which need to be taken into consideration:

  • Purpose. If your goal is to achieve PR coverage, for example, then quantitative inputs are a far more important consideration, relative to the number of qualitative interviews, so we’d recommend focussing on that. But if the purpose is to start a debate on an issue or provide an interesting perspective, then even a handful of qualitative interviews can help generate a strong viewpoint and diverse perspectives. For qualitative only research, a good target number will depend on your budget, length of target content, and the ultimate purpose of the study, but we’d recommend a minimum of 2-3 for an article, or 3-9 for a concise report, as two common types of output.
  • Length of content. As a rough rule of thumb, allowing for 1-3 interviewees per 1,000 words of content is a reasonable working assumption. So, for a 3,000 word report, anything from 3-9 interviews would be a decent target to aim for. Having significantly more interviews raises practical challenges, such as how to quote and cite all of these voices within a very limited space. Having no interviews at all raises different issues, such as how to bring the content to life and engage and interest the reader.
  • Budget. Clearly, additional interviews cost more (as does the longer content they might require), so there is always a need for balance between purpose, length of content and what purpose or outcome is being targeted. Longitude will always seek to recommend a fair balance between these competing objectives.

Can Longitude interview my clients or subject matter experts (SMEs)?

Yes, this is a regular request from our clients, and is a common input for many of the studies we conduct. We understand these relationships are important – and often sensitive for our Clients. To this end, we always create and share interview guides for these interviewees, which can be shared with Clients in advance, for review and refinement. This helps ensure that we focus these interviews areas of greatest relevance, and avoid any potentially sensitive topics, where necessary. For particularly sensitive or important calls, it is also possible for us to conduct a pre-interview call between the interviewing editor and a relevant Client Account Lead (CAL) or relationship manager, to ensure that all parties are fully briefed on how best to tackle the interview. We also remind all interviewees that nothing will be published without their explicit permission, to ensure we’ve captured their names, job titles and quotes accurately.

Can I or another person from my firm join or listen in on an interview?

As a rule of thumb, we strongly recommend that only the Longitude editor join and run the call, as this encourages the interviewee to speak openly and candidly, and thus enables us to get the most out of the interview. If there’s any need to ensure that a specific set of questions are included, these can absolutely be discussed and agreed within the interviewee guide, prior to the call taking place. However, for Client-sourced interviews, where it is taking place with either your subject matter expert or client, we recognise that there are instances where a client representative would like to listen in on the call, and this can be accommodated, providing Longitude is still able to lead the questioning on the call. We do not, however, permit a client to join or listen in on a Longitude-sourced interview, as this changes the dynamic of the interview and can lead the interviewee to believe that the interview has in fact become a form of sales call.

Can Longitude guarantee it will source a specific interview?

No, this is not possible to guarantee, as we are reliant on a company – and individual – committing to speaking on the record. We will agree broad demographic criteria for target interviewees for each study with you, confirming which sector or country or function we are seeking to interview, but cannot commit to sourcing specific companies or individuals. As a matter of course, we will update you on progress on a regular basis with regards to confirmed interviewees.

What is Longitude’s approach to interviewees with regards to diversity and inclusion?

Longitude strongly encourages seeking both diverse viewpoints and interviewees for qualitative interviews, and will always aim for a mix of voices in its outreach. We believe this diversity makes for better thought leadership outcomes. As such, we will always seek to secure a mix of male and female interviewees, from varying regions, races, ethnic groups and backgrounds, wherever possible. However, due to the demographic profile of the functions or roles we are typically asked to interview, there is often a sharply limited pool of diverse candidates available for consideration – put bluntly, a lot of business functions and roles we tend to target often skew strongly white and male. As two simple examples, there are few female leaders in the risk or technology functions, and few black CEOs of larger companies. As such, we unfortunately cannot commit to delivering a specific ratio or target of candidates, unless there is a sufficiently broad pool of targets (eg, simply looking for senior female business executives), or unless the topic is intrinsic to the matter (eg, diversity and inclusion).

Will Longitude provide a long-list of interviewee candidates for review?

Our default process is to first agree the demographic criteria of the interviewees we are seeking to source for a study – covering criteria such as the industry, functional role, region, and so on. As part of this, we are happy to suggest several indicative examples of target interviewees, to provide more specific context. Once these core criteria are agreed, we will commence outreach to target prospects. We will not provide a full long-list of target interviewees unless this has been agreed as part of the project scope in advance. A key reason for this is that, depending on the nature or focus of the study, we might have to reach out to as many as 10-20 organisations before getting a confirmed response from one of these. Rather than detailing all the companies being approached, our project team will instead advise you when we’ve had traction or interest from a target interviewee. If it has been agreed in advance that we will provide a long-list for client review, we request that any requests for changes are provided within 72 hours. This is to ensure that we can deliver within the overall timelines, and so that interviewees are responded to within a reasonable timeframe, to avoid losing their interest. If we do not get a response within 72 hours, we reserve the right to proceed with that interview.

Can we veto a proposed interviewee?

Yes, but only under certain conditions: 1) it doesn’t fit the agreed demographic criteria; or 2) the company is a direct or indirect competitor of yours; or 3) there is some clear and relevant sensitivity in relation to a proposed interviewee (eg, they are engaged in a dispute with the client, or they are an audit client that can’t be referenced, or similar). Any other concerns raised will definitely be considered with due sensitivity by the project team, but the right to veto an interviewee will be at Longitude’s discretion if the proposed candidate complies with all the above criteria.

Do you record all interviews? Can we get a copy of the recording or transcript?

Subject to agreement from the interviewee, we do seek to record all interviewees for note taking purposes, and to capture a detailed reference of the conversation. These recordings are transcribed to act as a reference for the project editor, to extract quotes, examples, Q&As and other content. However, to minimise any privacy risks in relation to GDPR, we are unable to share either recordings or transcripts from these interviewees, unless: a) it has been agreed in advance in the project scope, and the interviewee has given their consent to us sharing this; or b) it is an interview with a Client subject matter expert, where the purpose of the interview is to share insights more widely within the Client’s organisation.

Does Longitude get approval to publish quotes and other content from interviewees?

Yes, absolutely. We will not make use of an interviewee’s input, unless they have given us written approval to confirm the accuracy of their quotes and how they have been referenced. The only exception to this is for interviews with our client’s subject matter experts, where we typically rely on the client’s marketing team to confirm these. It’s worth noting that some interviewees respond, requesting to either not be named, or for the company not to be named, or for complete anonymity (despite having agreed to speak on the record earlier). This is rare, but it is usually due to them having had their PR or communications team decide against their participation in the study. Longitude will do all it can to avoid this outcome, and to convince the interviewee to reconsider, but this may not be possible. In this instance, the quotes would be used anonymously within the report. Alternatively, Longitude could seek to organise a replacement interviewee if time allows, but this would be subject to an additional charge.

What information does Longitude receive from its fieldwork vendors and clients in relation to qualitative interviews, and how do you ensure GDPR compliance for this?

Longitude sources qualitative interviews for client research projects in one of three ways:

  • Sourced by the Longitude team or drawn from existing in-house databases of interviewees
  • Sourced by our clients and, subject to the right permissions, handed to Longitude team to conduct the interview
  • Sourced from third-party fieldwork vendors with expertise and/or databases with relevant names

In all cases, Longitude receives only limited personal data, typically name, job title and email address. Regardless of how these interviews are sourced, Longitude acts as a “controller” of personal data, not a “processor”. This is because Longitude is the main decision-maker in the process and exercises control over the purposes and means of the processing of personal data.

In the instances where respondents are sourced from either clients or fieldwork partners, Longitude requires that the following steps take place.

  • Respondent’s contact information to be transferred (in compliance with GDPR procedures) to Longitude’s editorial team to conduct phone interviews
  • Information participants provide will be associated with their individual self or the company they are part of for the purposes of research
  • Participant responses to be quoted as part of research

To the extent that either party shares any personal data with the other party (including details of potential or actual respondents to any survey, questionnaire or interview), each party acts as data controller and promises to comply with applicable data protection law.

How long does Longitude keep personal information from qualitative interviews on file?

Our policy is to keep personal information – such as interviewee name and job title, as well as the overall interview transcript – for 36 months after the project has finished, at which point they are deleted. Communication with the interviewee (such as emails, etc.) is stored for seven years after the project is completed.

Digital and design: bringing your content to life

What options and formats does Longitude provide with regards to designing any content created?

Longitude’s information design team helps create a broad range of design outputs for our clients, from interactive stories to animated videos and much more. Depending on the particular needs of our clients, we can help provide our content in a range of formats, catering for both digital and physical forms:

  • Interactive stories (for articles, reports, and content hubs). A common option for many of our clients is to create an online interactive story, which provides a digital-first experience for people to explore your content, engage with animated interactive charts, and dive into the story. These can be smaller pages for single articles, right through to in-depth content hubs to host a range of content assets.
  • Data visualisation (both static and interactive, plus narrative infographics). We specialise in bringing data to life for distribution in a range of formats, whether static or interactive, diving into the specifics of a particular question. Alternatively, the study’s key findings can also be explored in the form of a narrative infographic.
  • Social media graphics (both static and animated). A very popular complement to our campaigns is a set of social media graphics, which can highlight specific findings for social amplification. These can be done as static images, or else
  • Stakeholder decks (both digital and traditional). Most Longitude projects include a key findings deck, summarising the most powerful and engaging findings from our research. This can be delivered as an interactive digital deck which can be shared via a link or embedded into your website, or else as a traditional MS PowerPoint slide deck.
  • Traditional design and layout. Naturally we can provide any report or article layout as an engaging and highly visual PDF for making available for download on your site, or for physical printing.
  • No design and layout. For our clients with in-house design teams, or a dedicated design agency, we are also very happy to provide our content as an MS Word document for you to handle in-house.

See a selection of examples from our portfolio page here.

Can Longitude work within our brand guidelines? Are there any other branding options available?

Longitude’s design team is happy to work within any client brand guidelines to ensure any design output looks and feels right on brand for your organisation. The vast majority of our work is created under our client’s brand, so this is our normal way of working.

For clients who do not wish to publish directly under their brand, an alternative option is to work under the FT Focus brand, which is the FT’s dedicated thought leadership brand. In this option, the primary brand would be FT Focus, while the client would be the secondary brand. Production of this content is subject to the FT’s editorial guidelines, which means that the FT has full editorial control over the output.

Can Longitude organise printing as well?

We unfortunately do not procure or oversee printing work for our clients. We do of course work with you to package up any printable assets and provide an optimised print-ready PDF to send to your printer with bleed and crop marks. We are also happy to review printer proof PDFs.

How are interactive stories created? Does this require a custom build?

Longitude’s information design team creates and hosts these sites via Foleon, an all-in-one platform for creating and publishing interactive content experiences. Foleon sites are designed to be snackable and media rich, with a stand-alone, linear format gives them a story-like feel and encourages readers to continue to each consecutive page. Importantly, Foleon allows us to rapidly and cost effectively create high quality interactive online stories and content hubs on behalf of our clients, without requiring a development team or any custom code.

Where are interactive stories hosted? Can we host them on our own servers?

Our default option is to host a client’s interactive story directly within Foleon, which provides clients with a no-hassle, hands-off means of getting their content published rapidly to the web. It also allows for rapid updates, as any changes we make are immediately pushed live to the interactive story. These stories are hosted on a global network of secure servers and use a state-of-the-art content delivery network (CDN) to ensure your readers get the best experience regardless of where they’re located.

However, for clients that are required to publish any content on their own servers, we can also help. The Foleon platform can create a standalone zip file, with all related content assets and design, which we can quickly create and share with a client for publishing on their servers. Note that under this approach, any further changes we make on the site will not be pushed live automatically, but would need to be exported and re-sent to you, to be uploaded onto your server.

What will the URL look like? Can we create a custom URL?

By default, any content published by Longitude will conform with our standard URL: https://longitude.foleon.com/your-project-name. But you can also easily create a custom domain or subdomain to replace this as the URL for the interactive story.

Can we “gate” the content on an interactive story, by requiring visitors to input some personal information in order to proceed?

Yes, absolutely. We fully understand that lead generation is a common facet of many of our client’s content campaigns, and we allow you to embed your CRM form within any part of the site. Given that Longitude’s terms and conditions prohibit us from processing any personal information, we ask that you create a lead generation capture form (or gate) within your CRM system, which we can then embed anywhere within the interactive story. Under this approach, any personal data inputted into the form is directly captured within your CRM system, without any need for Longitude to see or process that data. See more info on the specifics of that here, and more general insights into the pros and cons of various gating options here.

Can we track the page analytics directly?

Yes, we can embed your Google Analytics tracking code directly into the interactive story, ensuring that you have direct and full visibility into site traffic and analytics.

Can you create or embed animated/interactive charts within an interactive story?

Yes, this is a key aspect of our interactive stories. We use a specific tool, called Infogram, to create and embed a range of visual elements – from individual charts, to full-blown digital stakeholder decks – all of which can be embedded directly into an interactive story and/or a separate client website. We can provide clients with the embed code for any chart or deliverable, if required.

Once interactive charts are embedded into an interactive story, are we still able to embed them into our own website as well?

Yes, we can send you an embed code to use directly on your website. This is also applicable for our Infogram key finding decks, which can also be embedded on any third party website.

Can we create translated versions of an interactive story?

Yes. Longitude is an English-only agency when it comes to the content we create in-house, but we can support a translation process if needed. This would entail creating the English language version of the site first. We’d then clone this site for each of the required additional languages, and then substitute all the content with the translated copy. As part of this, we would work with a third party translation agency to provide the necessary translations, plus later page reviews and proof checks.

Can Longitude help to distribute or amplify our content?

Yes. The majority of our client work entails us delivering content to our clients, who in turn take responsibility for taking this content to market and distributing it. However, we do also provide a range of options in collaboration with the FT to distribute or amplify content via the FT’s global readership. You can read more about some of the basic options here or get in touch directly to learn more.

If you'd like to speak to a thought leadership and research expert directly, get in touch

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