When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves. Viktor E. Frankl
Online surveys like them or hate them, hit the research world by storm. In 2013 ESOMAR estimated web surveys account for 27% of market research investment worldwide. Telephone and face to face surveys came in second and third at only 13% and 12% respectively. More than ever daily decisions are made on data collected from online surveys. Big Data was thought to have a detrimental effect on online research, it has however added further uses for survey data in that online research can find answers to questions Big Data projects generate. The continued reliance on online research forces us to find ways to improve response rates for clients when respondents deal with communication overload.
Online surveys as with other forms of surveys are a numbers game. They fall within the quantitative primary research sphere and researchers have to substantiate their research results with representative samples. How to get the response numbers up has become a science of its own. Various factors have shown to have an influence on response rates, they include: survey fatigue; culture; gender; personality type; topic interest; attitude toward research; timing of invitation; relationship with sender and reminders. Other factors also play a role but showed mixed results in studies conducted. Therefore the research design is crucial and specific elements of the data collection process have to be very effective.
Online surveys have definite advantages for the researcher and respondent. Respondents spend less time completing the survey than a phone survey would require; they can respond in their own time and convenience; they can be frank in answering questions without feeling they have to explain their answer to the interviewer. There are various advantages for the researcher, which include: time frame; data quality; cost and the ability to conduct the survey DIY if necessary. One of the main considerations for the researcher when choosing their methodology is the accuracy of the tool. The accuracy of online surveys have been studied all over the world and has yielded very positive results compared to paper based surveys, indicating online survey methods can be substituted for paper based surveys without compromising quality.
Online surveys are thus still a very relevant and important contemporary research method, so when you get that next survey invite please spare a thought for the researcher and give it a click.