Over the past several years, the use of online and mobile research methods like online surveys has skyrocketed. Thanks to technological advances, you can now conduct research for a fraction of the cost and time. This makes collecting data easier than ever and better for everyone.
It's normal to want to understand and weigh the precautions. For instance, are there any drawbacks compared to traditional methods like mail, telephone, and personal interviewing?
The rapid advances in technology can get confusing. There are great reasons to hop on the tech train and dive in, but it's important to understand how it all works.
Increased Response Rate
The low cost and overall convenience of online surveys bring in a high response. Respondents get to answer questions on their own schedule at a pace they choose.
Collecting data doesn't have to break the bank anymore. There are plenty of websites and platforms that make creating your survey fast and affordable.
Respondents' answers store automatically so you get results at your fingertips in no time. This turns analyzing your results into effortless and immediate action.
Accessability from Multiple Devices
The sheer mount of mobile-friendly devices means your ways of reaching respondents multiplies greatly. From laptops to mobile phones and tablets.
Respondents answer questions on their own schedule and can even have flexibility with completion time.
Rapid deployment and return times are possible with online surveys that don't use traditional methods. And, if you have bad contact information for some respondents, you’ll know it almost immediately.
Surveys can be programmed even if they're very complex. Intricate skip patterns and logic can be employed seamlessly. You can create the layout, questions, and answer choices with no hassle.
Since respondents are not disclosing their answers directly to another person, it is easier for them to open up. Interviewers can also influence responses in some cases.
Perhaps the most important advantage of them all, online technology provides designers the ability to create a survey in a fraction of the time it would take to print and distribute one, not to mention mail one out.
This is the biggest challenge. If your survey is long and/or confusing you might get fake answers. Since there is less accountability, the chances for people just hitting buttons to finish are high. Check the questions you use carefully.
People often take surveys because they're promised a reward at the end, resulting in them not accurately contributing to your study.
Easy to Miss and/or Dismiss
Let's face it, in an age of limited attention spans and the sheer volume of emails and notifications we receive every single day, your online survey may end up being completely missed by a large portion of your prospective respondents.
Limited Sampling and Respondent Availability
Certain populations are less likely to have internet access and to respond to online questionnaires. Drawing samples is harder based on email addresses or website visitations.
Whether it's disengagement with the topic at hand, or simply your respondents not wanting to provide honest answers for fears of being judged, or basic response fatigue, you should plan on this being a challenge.
Possible Cooperation Problems
Online surveys could be deleted and ignored. People hate feeling poked and if they get annoyed, they just have to click delete.
The lack of a trained interviewer to clarify and probe can lead to less reliable data.