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What’s the Difference between Polls and Surveys and Why Conduct Online Surveys?

10/17/2015 Anant Goel

Remember the days when you used to get paper surveys in the mail seeking your input on a company’s product, service, or brand awareness?

Well, I haven’t seen one in decades, have you?

The traditional paper surveys are on the decline as online surveys surge forward to take their place. In the past, marketers had no choice but use print or telephone surveys to get the data they needed. Now, we have the Internet, Web 2.0, and social media. Think about how much easier it is to collect data on Internet and social media when all you need to do is distribute a link. That’s a heck of a lot simpler than printing thousands of surveys, tracking down the addresses of your respondents, mailing them, and then hoping that your recipients actually have the time and motivation to send them back.

Before we get deeper into the subject of “Why Conduct Online Surveys”, let’s first talk about…

Difference between Polls and Surveys

Polls can be termed as quick surveys that involve only a single question. A survey, on the other hand, takes more time to complete and consists of multiple questions.

One of the differences between the Polls and Surveys is the duration of time it takes to complete the whole procedure. The respondents participating in polls can quickly complete the procedure within a few seconds, or may be completed at the click of a mouse. But Surveys are a bit more comprehensive with so many questions.

Once you participate in polls, you can view the results immediately after answering the question. But a survey report doesn’t come that fast. Lots of analysis and comparison studies are needed to bring out comprehensive results.

Polls are often seen embedded in the websites, blogs, or social media timelines. But the surveys cannot be embedded in such a way, as they need more attention.

Why Conduct Surveys?

A poll is a snapshot picture of the opinions of people selected at random, to represent a certain demographic or segment, and usually about one issue or event (such as an election) to obtain information about what they are likely to do, or what they think about that one thing. The most common are election polls where people are asked what candidate they will vote for or how they will vote on a particular issue.

A survey, on the other hand, also seeks information from people, but it is commonly used to determine future actions by the survey takers, or to include in research to develop better products, services, or programs. For example…

·         Companies survey people about their products, services, or brand awareness… to see whether or not people like them, and what things they do or don't like about them.

·         Governing bodies survey people to see how to develop programs that will fit the needs of those people.

·         Health care companies survey for satisfaction of their clients.

·         Stores and banks do customer satisfaction surveys to see how they can improve their services.

·         Almost every segment of our economy uses surveys in some form or the other…

Why Do Online Surveys!

So what are the benefits of these newfangled online surveys, and what do B2B and B2C companies stand to gain by doing them?

1)      Collect Data…In Real-Time

The purpose of doing an online survey is to collect data, as with any traditional survey. If you stumble across a topic that you want to do research on — whether it’s market research for your product or service, or research into industry trends — you’ve found an opportunity to conduct a survey. The great thing about online surveys is that you can roll them out in almost no time at all. And once those results start flooding in, you can see real-time answers to your questions the second respondents hit the submit button.

2)     Learn from Your Results

Online surveys are very cost effective and frequent surveys are great for collecting customer input about your product or service. Send one out every few months to gauge customer satisfaction, inquire into new feature ideas, learn how customers are using your product or service, and record any general feedback. The key is to take what you learn and put it into practice.

3)     Enhance Brand Reputation and Leadership

If you conduct a survey about industry trends, you’ll find yourself holding a lot of valuable data in your hands. Chances are, other people in your industry are going to find it valuable too. Publishing your data with a thorough analysis of its implications will position you as a thought leader on that topic and enhance your brand reputation and leadership.

4) Surveys for Data Collection in Continuous Improvement

Use short surveys to provide valuable data for continuous improvement in your business operations, branding, customer service, and products enhancements. Surveys that provide valid, usable results cost money. Consider first whether the data are available from other data sources or collection methods. Other sources of information might include: published reports, curated Google searches, and wiki articles on Wikipedia.

5)     Turn Data into Content

Get creative with the kinds of content you can produce from feedback data you receive from the surveys! Not only can you publish your data in a press release, but you can also turn it into a blog post (or perhaps a series of posts). People love visuals, so consider creating graphs, charts, videos, or infographics.

As you can see, you can gain a lot from a simple online survey — without any significant investments in time or money.

Advantages of Online Surveys

Online surveys are a great option for business owners [as well as town officials] who would like to conduct their own research; and online survey tools make it possible for them to perform market research at a fraction of the usual cost. The list below explains some of the key benefits of using online surveys…

·        Faster

The time needed to complete an online survey project is on average two-thirds shorter than that of a traditional research method. Because the information is being gathered automatically, you don't have to wait for paper questionnaires to come back to you. The response rate is almost instant. Online marketing experts say that more than half the responses are in within the first three days of the research project.

·        Cheaper

Using online questionnaires can halve your research costs. Your business can save money on postage and you don't have to allocate part of your staff to enter the information into a database. The responses are processed automatically and the results are accessible at any time.

·        More accurate

There is a smaller margin of error because participants enter their responses directly into the system. Traditional methods rely on the attentiveness of staff to enter all details correctly, and naturally human error can creep in whenever a person has to perform a repetitive task.

·        Quick to analyze

The results of the online survey are ready to be analyzed at any time. The data can be presented in graphs or tables, and most online survey tools also offer cross tabulation analysis tools to create contingency tables.

·        Easy to use for participants

Ninety percent of people that have access to the Internet prefer to answer surveys online instead of using the telephone. With online surveys, participants can pick a time that suits them and the time needed to complete the survey is much shorter. Questions that are not relevant to a particular participant can be skipped automatically.

·        Easy to use for Researchers

The main benefit of online surveys for researchers is that it saves time. The data is instantly available and can easily be transferred into specialized statistical software or spreadsheets when more detailed analysis is needed.

·        Easy to style and Multimedia Integration

An online survey can be styled to match your business website and your brand. You can choose the colors and layout of your surveys, and you can add your company logo. You can also add images, audio, or video to the questions in the survey. Be careful though because sometimes this can lead to long waiting times between questions, when pages are slow to load. This can be potentially annoying for some participants.

·        More honest & Less Bias

Market researchers have found that participants in online surveys usually provide longer and more detailed answers. Because participants feel safe in the anonymous environment of the Internet, they are more likely to open up and give a more truthful response.

·        More selective

With an online survey you can pre-screen participants and allow only those who match your target profile to complete the survey. This way of working allows you to really target specific issues and questions about your business by asking only those who can give you the answers.

·        More flexible

The order of the questions in an online survey can be changed, or questions can be skipped altogether, depending on the answer to a previous question. This way, a survey can be tailored to each participant as he or she proceeds.

To sum up, online surveys are less time consuming, they are cheaper, you get the results faster, and you can transfer and use the data in other business applications.

Ready to Go Surveys

It’s not easy to ask the right questions, and harder still to understand what the results really mean. That’s why we’ve teamed up with industry experts to develop Ready-to-Go surveys that are professionally designed questionnaires and comprehensive LeRumba Smart Reports that add clarity and purpose to your customer feedback.


If you are ready to create an Online Survey, try Google Docs for Free

In closing, what is your experience conducting online survey? We would like to hear!

[Curated content based on excerpts from posts, blogs, media articles, and sponsored research]

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