The Advantages of Online Survey Research vs Traditional Surveys

As many of the benefits of doing things online, there are many advantages of online survey research. Online surveys are an innovation to the older, traditional surveying methods.

They are a faster way to help businesses make better decisions when it comes to their products and serving their customers’ needs. Rather than taking weeks or months, businesses can get market research data almost instantly online.

While there are many free resources to measure market potential and product interest, they do not empower businesses to understand their core customers.

After all, consider these key concerns: have you defined who your target market is? Its likes, interests, and habits? How do your customers find your brand? How do they interact with you? Do you have an idea to test?

After you get the results, what will you do with them?

One of the best ways to answer all these questions is through online channels, however, there are a lot of different ways to reach people; all have their pros and cons. Online surveys are the leading method to address the above and a wide variety of other questions. They have a much greater potency than traditional surveying methods.

That’s what makes them innovative.

Online Surveys Vs Traditional Surveys

Online surveys have modernized the traditional survey route. This route consists of mail-in surveys, hard paper surveys, and phone interviews. While these kinds of surveys have held value in the past, they have become outdated and inferior to the online survey. That is because they face issues that online surveys are virtually immune to.

Additionally, online surveys have paved the way for more conveniences and positive traits of market research as a whole. Before we explore the advantages of online surveys, let’s peruse some of the disadvantages traditional surveys have cast.

The Disadvantage of Traditional Surveys

Traditional survey methods are being phased out and for good reason. During the inception of market research, they served their cause, but in the digital era, they are out of date. They carry too many disadvantages, especially when compared to their modern equivalents.

Here are a few drawbacks of traditional surveys. These are unique to them and are not existent in online surveys:

  1. Far too much time to reach the respondent (it’s called snail mail for a reason)
  2. Mail-in surveys are not guaranteed to be opened, completed, and sent back immediately.
  3. Hard paper responses are handwritten, which are vulnerable to smudges and smears.
  4. Understanding hard paper survey responses is at the mercy of the respondents’ handwriting.
  5. Phone interviews are susceptible to participants hanging up, cutting the interview without warning.
  6. Phone call surveys are usually treated as spam; no one answers.
  7. Respondents may feel uncomfortable answering questions with minimal anonymity.
  8. Impossible to screen respondents, select the right ones, and have only them take the survey.
  9. Less certainty of returned responses.
  10. Unlikely to be answered if the questions are controversial.

Advantages of Online Survey Research vs Traditional Surveys

While traditional surveys are laced with inconveniences and issues, online surveys provide a better experience for the businesses sending them and the respondents alike. The benefits online surveys provide are what make them an innovation to their older counterparts.

Here are several significant advantages that online surveys provide over traditional surveys. As you can see from the below, they are an overall net positive for saving money and time. Let’s dive in:

  1. Anonymity despite the demographic information
  2. Ease of screening participants
  3. Ease of allowing only the targeted demographics to participate
  4. Cost savings, as providers often charge businesses per completed survey
  5. Faster results, since it is digital; answers are submitted immediately to the survey platform
  6. A significantly better reach
  7. The ability to meet all quotas
  8. Potentially better targeting
  9. Reduced survey bias from the “interviewer effect”
  10. Convenience to participants
  11. Potential for better results
  12. Faster results analysis
  13. Better results visualization
  14. The application of logic, so that participants don’t answer irrelevant questions.
  15. The ability to incentivize participants

The Power of Online Research

Online surveys work hand in hand with online research. As constituents of the same medium, the internet, or the digital space at large, it is far easier for them to work in tandem with one another.

Here are ways in which businesses can pair online surveys with secondary online research:

  • Monitor brand performance
  • Determine market opportunity
  • Define or explore a customer persona
  • Test marketing campaigns, ad ideas, or product concepts
  • Discover new ideas
  • Determine consumer sentiment or opinion
  • Evaluate customer satisfaction
  • Understand Voice of Customer (VoC)
  • Perform competitive analysis
  • A/B testing

All of these topics involve a large population that you may want to study (e.g. Pet owners in the USA) and can be broken down into characteristics (or variables) of that population (e.g. consumers who purchase pet toys, people who are aware of my brand, monthly spend on pets, by gender, age, location, etc).

Since it is impossible to survey the entire population due to technical restrictions, cost, and time, we collect data by running surveys based on a sample—a carefully selected subgroup of the population we want to target.

Getting the Most Value of Market Research

Market research is no easy feat; it involves an ongoing operation in various areas of a market. This includes the industry a business caters to, the industry’s trends and changes, a business’s competitors, and most importantly, its customers.

As market research depends on both secondary and primary research methods, it would be at a great loss without surveys. Surveys allow you to delve deep into the minds of customers while gathering more about who makes up your target market. As such, surveys have evolved from analog to digital. Online surveys now make up the lion’s share of surveys due to their many advantages and gains.

As such, they are the dominant surveying method in today’s age.

Frequently asked questions

What are the benefits of online surveys?

Online surveys are a faster way to help businesses make better decisions. Rather than taking weeks or months, you can get market research data near-instantly online. There are also cost savings, better results visualization, and more.

What kind of market research can you do online ?

You can monitor brand performance, determine market opportunities, define or explore a customer persona, and test marketing campaigns, ad ideas, or product concepts. You can also determine consumer sentiment or opinions.

What can online surveys help you do?

Online surveys can help evaluate customer satisfaction, accumulate the VOC(Voice of Customer), gather thoughts on product ideas, find industry trends via customers themselves, and much more.

Should you survey a large portion of a population?

Since it is impossible to survey an entire population due to technical restrictions, cost, and time, proper surveys should collect data by running the survey on a sample—a carefully selected subgroup of the population you want to target.