If you've been living under a rock for the past 10 years, online surveys may be a new trend for you. If you've paid any attention to market research or surveys over the past decade you will quickly realize the majority of feedback is collected online. But what are the reasons behind this growth? Why are telephone surveys and mail surveys on the endangered species list?
If phone surveys had a "show me what the future looks like facial expression", this would be it.
The growth of online surveys is driven by several factors. But first things first. Online surveys are a form of quantitative research. They are designed, programmed, tested, and administered online. Online surveys can be accessed through a static link, emailed links, texted links, and apps. Essentially if you have access to the internet, you can participate in an online survey.
They are popping up all over the place. You're probably thinking not a day goes by where I am not invited to participate in a survey. Whether it's a McDonald's free sandwich offer, an email you receive after a customer service call, or a pop-up on your favorite news website, surveys are everywhere.
So there must be some reasons behind this growth and shift towards online research right? Why aren't you receiving something in the mail? Why aren't you receiving a phone call? Here are 4 of the key drivers behind the growth in online survey research.
Driver 1: Turn-around Time
Everyone wants data fast these days. Whether it's real-time, a dashboard report, or an infographic, results need to be produced quickly. Clients are less and less willing to wait 2, sometimes 3+ weeks for a full market research report. Time is of the essence.
One of the largest drawbacks with mail surveys and phone surveys is the length of time it takes to collect the fieldwork. Preparing mailings, stuffing, stamping, and sending can take several days, if not weeks. Then you have to wait many more weeks for responses to come in, coupled with data entry hours. The same is true with phone surveys. An 800 complete telephone survey with each interview lasting 15 minutes takes a lot of call center hours. Fieldwork can easily stretch over many weeks and months.
For our younger readers, the image above is what many called a "telephone." Ancient civilizations claimed it was an instrument used to simultaneously transmit and receive speech or other sounds over a distance. This cannot be confirmed.
With online surveys, results can be analyzed within hours of an invitation. With the largest percentage of completed surveys coming from an initial email invite, one can begin to draw directional conclusions from the real-time data as it rolls in. Although reminders can be sent, these often come 24 or 48 hours after the initial invite for a slight boost in response rate.
The majority of panel surveys and customer surveys we work with on a daily basis involve short turn-around times for fieldwork. We move fast. Several studies we've run for clients are in and out of the field within 2 to 3 days before cleaning and analysis begins. With fieldwork being the largest timeline variable in the workplan, reducing this phase to a few days means an entire online survey project can be completed within 1 or 2 weeks. How is that for turn-around time?
Driver 2: Access to Low Cost Platforms
If there is one thing I've learned over the years in market research, it's you don't have to pay a fortune for online survey software. At prior companies, I've worked with online survey software ranging from $5,000 to $200,000+ per year. To be completely honest, the differences were negligible. There are plenty of online survey platforms which offer advanced capabilities, unlimited survey completes, and real-time data for pennies on the dollar of these platinum programs.
The advantage of using a low-cost but highly capable software at Drive Research means we don't have to pass the expense of our tools on to our clients. Firms that pay $200,000 or more on software or a per survey complete structure, add these costs into client projects. This buffer ensures the platform is paid for by the clients, not the online survey company.
Maximizing use of these low cost platforms and pushing their limits for survey design and analysis creates a win-win for our clients. We can do everything we want and more with our online software and we don't have to pass any overhead cost along to our clients. We worked with the proclaimed "best" software and in our opinion, it's not worth the price tag.
Driver 3: Growth in Mobile Devices
In a more recent post we touched on a few statistics which are driving mobile research growth. Nearly half of adults in the U.S. live in households with wireless-only phone access. Nearly 3 in 4 phone surveys are completed via mobile devices with households across the country. Not only has mobile emerged in phone research but by virtue it has also pushed many studies to their cheaper, faster and comparable quality counter-part: online surveys.
With so much of the population having access to a mobile device and smartphone, it's easier to send survey invitations online than it is to get through caller IDs. Instead of spending 15 minutes on the phone completing the survey, it can take half the time if it's self-administered online.
The penetration of smartphones puts online surveys at the fingertips of respondents. Reaching audiences has never been less expensive and easier than it is today. The real challenge now is cutting through all the mess and convincing respondents to participate in surveys. Survey takers are available at all hours of the day, as we are all attached to our phones nowadays.
Driver 4: Incredible ROI
Tied into the low cost platforms and quick turn-around times, we argue you will not find a better return in market research than an online survey. With results being quantitative, results are more statistically reliable and measurable than other methodologies. Online surveys can get you the answers you need to your key business questions in just days. This flexibility gives your organization the opportunity to reach customers and non-customers rapidly.
The overall cost of an online survey is one of the most affordable methodologies in market research. Coupled with the cost is the high value and reliability of results. The combination of the two make online surveys our favorite methodology of all. We love sharing real-time data with clients and digging into the findings to provide our customers with the insights they need to drive strategy. As we say at Drive Research, better data, better decisions, better strategy. It's all aligned through online surveys.
How Can I Get Started?
Drive Research is an online survey company in Syracuse, NY. Interested in utilizing an online survey for your next market research project? We don't blame you. Contact us at [email protected] or by calling 315-303-2040.