Choosing a Survey Medium

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  • 0:00 Primary & Secondary Research
  • 0:54 Common Survey Methods
  • 3:26 Newer Technology
  • 4:01 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Whitsett

David has taught computer applications, computer fundamentals, computer networking, and marketing at the college level. He has a MBA in marketing.

There are several ways to conduct a survey - on the phone, in-person, online, or through the mail. In this lesson, we'll examine how to choose the right method for your purposes and go over the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Primary & Secondary Research

''How can we prevent our new products from failing?'' Or ''How do we ensure our new products are successful?''

Just as there's more than one way to ask a particular question, there are many avenues you can use to ask questions. You can ask people in person, through an email or online, on the phone, or by mail. Market research can be divided into two methods: primary and secondary. Primary research is original research that you or people you hire collect for your own purposes, so surveys fall into this category. Secondary research is when you data-mine somebody else's work.

Surveys can be used to check customer satisfaction or to measure something quantitative, or numbers-based and structured. They are good when you have a large group you want to query, and you have specific questions you need answers to.

Common Survey Methods

If you're a market researcher wanting to gather data, how do you decide which survey method is the best for your needs? Let's examine each method in more detail:

First, there's in person. Let's say you're walking through the mall and here comes the smiling person with the clipboard: the survey taker. Why do companies use in-person surveys? The advantages are many. An interviewer can pick up on non-verbal cues or emotions, whereas other methods cannot; the respondent can't lie about basic information, such as race or gender; and the interviewer can keep the process moving towards completion. In-person surveys might also include people who wouldn't see or respond to an online survey request. There are some disadvantages. Using people to conduct surveys is costly, the quality of the data gathered will depend on the skill of the interviewer, there may be some manual data entry involved, and your sample size is limited by how many interviewers you can hire.

The next method is email or online. Online surveys can be distributed via email or they can be part of a web page. Sometimes you even see small surveys surface as pop-ups. The advantages of online and email surveys include lower cost than other methods, respondents can remain anonymous, they can take their time answering questions, and responses can be received and tabulated faster than other methods. The disadvantages are that many emails don't make it through to the recipient because they're caught as spam or never opened, customers may resent frequent email survey requests, and customers may become frustrated with complex questions or survey length and abandon the survey. Since it's difficult for you to detect, the respondents may lie in a survey if there's an incentive attached for completion.

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