With the invention of probability sampling during the late 1930s, online surveys became an everyday method for empirical study in science, marketing, and public statistics. The usual methods involved in surveying data are any of several means by which information is collected for a random sample. In the case of online surveys, this involves answering questionnaires in lieu of receiving a product or service. In addition, there is the option of submitting written questionnaires to a database in return for being eligible for a prize. Many companies use online surveys as part of their selection process for new employees, with the results being used as part of compensation for the winners.
A questionnaire is usually created on a web site that offers the service of conducting online surveys. In the majority of cases, all that is required is a computer with an Internet connection and the ability to fill in a questionnaire. The questionnaire itself consists of a variety of questions designed to explore the way a target audience thinks. Surveys of this type are usually very descriptive and allow participants to be classified into subgroups and classes.
Survey design is one of the more important aspects of online surveys. In most cases, the questionnaire must be very descriptive and provide an accurate representation of the target population being surveyed. It should be well designed to make the respondent feel like he/she is in a real-time discussion rather than a series of questions. All good surveys make their respondents feel as if they have a say in how a project will be conducted, how results will be communicated, and whether or not certain actions will be taken.
Respondents should be instructed as to how they will be compensated for their participation in the survey, which may involve payment through a cashier’s check, redeemable credit card, electronic transfer, or a money transfer service. Different types of compensation may be appropriate depending on the type of survey. Many companies conduct surveys by providing rewards to those who take the time to respond. In many cases, these “points” can then be redeemed at retail outlets, or used to purchase merchandise. Other types of payments may also be made, such as gift cards and frequent flyer miles.
Online surveys can help companies learn about the preferences of their target markets. A fast, or real-time, way to collect data is important for this type of market research. Respondents can give their opinions through an Internet-based questionnaire that can be filled out at home or at the office. Because they are anonymous, responses are reliable, and there is generally no cost associated with completing the survey.
Online surveys are considered one of the fastest ways to gather market research data. A typical questionnaire only takes a few minutes to complete. It can be distributed to a wide demographic audience, and the response rate is usually high. The advantage of this method is that there is no need to mail, or call, a respondent, in order to receive a response. In addition, unlike traditional surveys, there is no cost for the respondent to complete the questionnaire.
Traditional surveys require that respondents be sent invitations or mailed a form of pre-paid mail, and often provide limited options for how respondents can opt to receive the survey. Online surveys do not use this method. When a person responds, his or her survey results are usually sent to the respondent directly via email. This email contains all of the information that was asked, with the exception of certain questions. The survey results are then sent to the company representative for further processing. Traditional surveys can be time-consuming, and they cannot be sent to a targeted audience.
Web surveys are available to all types of consumers. Mobile devices, such as smart phones and Blackberrys allow respondents to take surveys on the go, from anywhere in the world. Online survey companies have developed web applications that can capture data from consumers using these popular devices. Mobile devices give respondents a convenient way to fill out the survey at their leisure. Online surveys offer many advantages to business owners who want to get real-time customer feedback.