The use of online and mobile survey methods for market research has catapulted over the last 10 years. Due to ever-increasing technological advances, it’s now possible for do-it-yourself researchers to design, conduct and analyse their own surveys for a fraction of the cost and time it would have taken in the past.
But are there any drawbacks compared to traditional methods such as mail, telephone and personal interviewing? Is your research taken as seriously? Are the results as reliable? There are advantages and disadvantages of conducting market research surveys over the internet or via a mobile device and once you understand more about both, you can make the right decision for your organisation to gain usable, actionable results.
While the choice of mode is often entirely dependent on your specific topic, purpose and goals, online questionnaires are a great option in many instances.
- Low costs. Due to drastically lower overhead, collecting data does not have to cost you thousands of pounds.
- Automation and real-time access. Respondents input their own data, and it is automatically stored electronically. The analysis thus becomes easier, can be streamlined and is available immediately.
- Less time. Rapid deployment and return times are possible with online surveys that cannot be attained by traditional methods. If you have inadequate quality contact information for some respondents, you’ll know it almost right after you’ve sent out your surveys.
- Convenience for respondents. They can answer questions when they have a spare moment, at their pace, and can even start a survey at one time, stop, and complete it later.
- Design flexibility. Surveys can be programmed even if they are very complex. Intricate skip patterns and logic can be employed seamlessly. You can also require that respondents provide only one response to single-choice questions, which cuts down on error.
- No interviewer. Respondents may be more willing to share personal information because they’re not disclosing it directly to another person. Interviewers can also influence responses in some cases.
- Limited sampling and respondent availability. It is harder to draw probability samples based on e-mail addresses or website visitations. Also, sending surveys to your own audience can sometimes result in you missing out of the views of a wider audience outside your own database.
- Possible cooperation problems. Although online surveys in many fields can attain response rates equal to or slightly higher than that of traditional modes, internet users today are constantly bombarded by messages and can quickly delete your requests.
- No interviewer. A lack of a trained interviewer to clarify and probe can lead to less reliable data.
Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when undertaking marketing research as your reason for gathering information can range from client feedback to discovering how the market winds are blowing. Obtaining fresh information is something that each organisation needs more and more to successfully compete. Further to this, B2B organisations are finding there is a growing need to create useful, well-informed content. To do this, research is the key.
Spending lot’s of time and money recruiting and working alongside research companies is not always a viable option, and even when it is, it’s the kind of thing that many businesses can only afford to do but once a year, if that! When you take a look at the above list it’s quite clear to see that, though the list is not exhaustive, often the benefits of doing it yourself outweigh the drawbacks for researchers in most situations, especially for shorter, more straightforward projects. And now, it’s simpler than ever before to do.