Dimensional Research’s web surveys are one of our most requested services, for good reason. Many research companies often dismiss online surveys simply because they’re not as profitable. But while web surveys do have several drawbacks, they can be highly useful. As long as the disadvantages are understood, and Web-surveys do not become the only research tool in the toolbox, Web surveys can yield very powerful results.
So what’s WRONG with Web Surveys?
Web surveys are a quantitative research vehicle. As such, they are highly efficient, but easily miss contextual detail. They make it impossible to capture subtleties. When using online surveys, the researcher doesn’t get an opportunity to drill down into the research topics, to ask the participants clarifying questions or to uncover hidden issues. The all important research tools of “why” and “tell me more about that” aren’t available.
A big challenge in crafting web surveys is question design. Designing the right questions is incredibly important because once the survey is fielded, the researcher doesn’t get the opportunity to discuss the questions further with the participants, to clarify how words are understood or to capture the subtleties of the answers. Unlike qualitative research, the survey is only as good as the question-writers understanding of the problem. There is very little opportunity to learn anything beyond the scope of your current knowledge.
Then, what’s GOOD?
Web surveys are an inexpensive, cost-effective way to get a broad range of input. They can be executed quickly to reach a large number of respondents in multiple geographies. Internet surveys enable researchers to collect a large amount of data in a relatively short amount of time, and to draw responses from all over the world, resulting in a dramatically larger sample size than they could get using qualitative research methods.
It is relatively easy to recruit participants for web surveys because they involve minimal time commitment. This is especially true for participants who are technology professionals, since these participants are very comfortable with online tools.
So, back to the original question – is a Web Survey right for me?
Maybe. If your goal is any of the following, Web Surveys should definitely be considered:
- Capturing the hard data you need in order to capture customer pain points, support your business plan, or prioritize product features
- Documenting market conditions for use in outbound marketing efforts.
- Gathering information quickly when time is the most pressing consideration.