With the Internet becoming more prevalent in U.S. homes, the online survey has become a very popular way for researchers to reach people to conduct market research. This method is much different than most methods such as in-person, phone or focus groups, but it still has many benefits. These benefits have convinced many companies to try, and use multiple times, the Internet as the way to reach their target participants. After conducting some of my own online surveys I thought it would be interesting to look more into the benefits.
1 - Online surveys have proven to be much faster and cheaper than other forms of surveying. The data is being automatically tallied and saves researchers a lot of time gathering and organizing the results. One of the best benefits is that it saves the researchers a great deal of money on distribution. There is no need for postage.
2 - Online surveys are more accurate than in-person, phone or focus groups. They eliminate the human recording error which can occur if a research recorder doesn't pay attention to a participant. The results are also ready to analyze any time which saves a company valuable time in their research process. This means they will possibly be able to launch or kill a certain product or ad quicker than if they had used another survey method.
3 - Another benefit of online surveys is the ease at which it can be used. Both for the researcher and the participant. It compiles the info for the company, but it also allows the participant to take the survey at their convenience. This is great because people will be less likely to rush through the questions as they might in a phone survey. You can also tailor the style and format for the companies image and to make the survey flow better. One way would be to create filter questions that the survey would automatically skip questions depending on what the person answered.
4 - Researchers can be much more selective of their participants. Pre-screening is a great tool to use to ensure you reach a specific target audience. This can bring you much more accurate data. Pre-screening is something that is very difficult with phone interviews because you can only call a household and hope that you are going to talk to the correct person.
Although online surveys are not perfect and have some disadvantages, they are a great tool for researchers to use and will most likely only become better over time.