Previously, to conduct a survey, the marketing research companies had only the choice between few basic methods to administer a questionnaire:
- face-to-face survey (home, outlet, street, office, etc.)
- by postal service
Thanks to the emergence of new technologies (telephony and computers etc.), other methods are born:
- CAPI (Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing)
- CATI (Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing)
Over time, the internet has become available throughout the world and the web was widely popularized. This contributed to the proliferation of "web services" and "SaaS" application (software as a service) including polling websites. At that time, the administration of an online questionnaire is possible. This new method named CAWI (computer-assisted web interviewing) has grown in popularity.
Is it better to administer a questionnaire online?
Briefly, web surveys can significantly reduce costs, shorten the overall administrative duration, and guard against risks of errors. However, they also suffer from some limitations.
Advantages of online survey
Low-cost market research
Cost is controlled through the elimination of some unnecessary expenses like:
- telephone calls
- recruitment and training of interviewers
- traveling to meet potential participants
- no typing is made
- Further more, online survey tools are dematerialized (no paper and printing). This is also ecological and beneficial to the environment.
Market research is accessible to a large population
This advantage makes online survey tool very suitable for conducting international marketing studies. It is even possible to target specific geographic areas by filtering with IP addresses (continent, country, city, or even neighborhood).
This large access contributes to reducing contact costs, and gives us the opportunity to reach people that are impossible to be physically contacted, or called by telephone or reached during regular business hours intervals.
Respondents may be invited to take part in the online survey in several ways:
- social networks
- publication on the website of the company that wants to carry out a market study online
- web ad campaign
- QR codes
Administering e-questionnaire is super-fast
A lot of time can be saved thanks to the elimination of some laborious tasks. Indeed, you will not need to recruit and train interviewers anymore. In addition, data entry and data processing are carried out automatically.
Data collection control is more easy and robust
Online surveys have several interesting technical features:
Advanced filtering and skip logic to direct the flow of the internet form according to the provided responses throughout the survey.
Detection of suspected respondents through systematic or manual verification of the spent time to fill out the whole questionnaire, or some parts of it.
The provided responses are progressively controlled and error messages are reported if unsatisfactory data are typed in. For example, It's possible to require a response with at least 3 words or at least twenty characters for an open question, otherwise the next steps of the questionnaire won't be accessible.
Checking the consistency and coherence of responses.
Systematic and real-time control of quotas and the number of completed questionnaires. In addition, an automatic shutdown option of the internet survey can be activated if a condition is met.
Interactive and accessible online form
It is possible to embed multimedia objects such as videos, audios, images, flash animations etc. to increase the richness and interactivity, and improve the user experience and his willingness to participate.
In addition, the wide range of questions that can be inserted is huge and diversified. This may allow us to get more valuable results and insights.
The e-questionnaire can be presented in multiple languages in order to involve respondents from different cultures.
More sincere and accurate answers
Anonymity pushes respondents to provide spontaneous answers.
The absence of the interviewer and other agents (data entry operators etc.), means also the elimination of bias and errors that can be caused by these latter.
Some errors can be prevented thanks to the skip logic mechanisms.
The online form is available all the time during the deployment period of the Internet survey and it is accessible from anywhere. So, an interviewee may complete an online questionnaire at night in his bedroom if it is only available at that time. Furthermore, he will experience less pressure and avoid any lack of concentration that may be triggered by the environment.
The collected responses are stored directly in a database, which enhances confidentiality and improves archiving marketing studies.
Internet survey drawbacks
Like the other administration methods, the online questionnaire has disadvantages as well as advantages. The optimal choice that can be made varies from one situation to another.
Online marketing studies suffer from the same limitations as all self-administered surveys. Indeed, the suppression of the interviewer results in less support and guidance. In this case, if a question is poorly worded, the online survey may be biased. In addition, answers to open-ended questions are generally less detailed and less exploitable, because of the absence of an interviewer who can ask follow-up questions several times in order to get a more qualitative response.
A specific population may be over-represented (the techie generation) and another one can be totally absent (households without computers and/or Internet connection, elderly people etc.).
Internet questionnaire administered face-to-face
Our market research company has opted for a hybrid solution that combines the benefits of an online poll and a face-to-face survey. In this sense, we deploy an online questionnaire that we administer by interviewers equipped with tablets or smartphones for data collection.
This approach allows us to maintain contact with the respondent and facilitate the questionnaire administration.
Are you planning to conduct market research on field or on an online survey site? Contact us to carry out your next marketing project. Our market research firm pursues a proven methodology and makes use of robust tools.