Benefits and Weaknesses of Survey Research

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Survey research is quickly becoming the number one tool that market researches use to gather data. The advent of online survey tools has led to widespread use of quantitative surveys in order to collect, analyze, and use data that can contribute to a more effective business model, better marketing strategies, improved customer service and more.

Survey research methods have been shown time and time again to benefit market researchers and improve ROI. Yet depending on the type of research you are doing, survey research may not be as appropriate. Here are several of the benefits and weaknesses to using surveys as your primary methodology.

Benefits of Survey Research

  • Cost

Surveys – particularly online surveys – have a very small cost per participant. Even with incentives, the cost per response is often far less than the cost of running a focus group or a phone interview, while the responses you receive can number into the thousands.

  • Data Collection

Data collection is much easier with surveys, which tend to use easy to read data sources that can be compiled and analyzed as needed for your market research needs. The qualitative research techniques of other market research methods may yield some interesting answers, but the ability to analyze themes becomes a much more difficult (and possibly inaccurate) process.

  • Sample Size

Sample size is one of the most underrated aspects of all types of research, including market research. Far too many companies make the mistake of assuming their small sample of only a few dozen participants is enough to make any firm conclusions. Surveys allow you to reach thousands of possible participants if necessary, which ensures a more accurate sample in which to draw conclusions.

  • Candid Responses

The anonymity of surveys allows people to feel more candid with their responses. To get accurate data, you need your participants to be as honest as possible with their answers. Surveys provide more honest responses than other types of research methodology, especially if it is clear that the answers will remain confidential.

Weaknesses of Survey Research

  • Sample Choice

It’s up to the user to ensure they have a representative sample from which to collect data. Survey research is prone to researcher error, where assumptions are made about the sample that may not be accurate. For example, if you are researching low income communities, many may not have email access, so their voice won’t be heard in your data.

  • Rigidity

Before you develop your survey, you need to remember to account for all possible answers and program the survey accordingly. If you fail to account for all possible answers you may be missing out on data. For example, if the participant wants to tell you something about your product, but doesn’t have space to do so, you will lose out on that data.

Survey Research for Marketing

Of all of the ways to perform market research, survey research is one of the most reliable and far reaching. It is, however, prone to user error. If the researcher is not prepared for running survey research, the data collected may not be as valuable. However, if the marketer understands how to use survey research effectively and accurately, it has been shown to be the best available way to collect and analyze data.

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