What are the advantages and disadvantages of an online survey? (Part 1/2)

At Satisfy.io everything happens online, from creating a campaign to viewing the content by a target audience. In this article we look at the pros and cons of online research.

At Satisfy.io everything happens online, from creating a campaign to viewing the content by a target audience.

In a previous article, we discussed the different steps to create a campaign on the Satisfyy.io platform.

In this first part, we look back at the main advantages and disadvantages of online research, while specifying the solutions we have implemented.

In today's research landscape, more and more researchers are using online surveys as a data collection method. In this article we propose a review of the literature concerning the advantages and disadvantages of using this method.

Several advantages have been noted by researchers: low cost, speed of data collection, fewer errors, greater freedom for the respondent, etc.

On the disadvantage side, the literature mainly highlights the difficulties related to sampling control and the inherent limitations (representativeness, confidentiality, anonymity, self-selection bias, etc.).

Online surveys: efficiency and simplicity at lower cost

The benefits and limitations of online surveys need to be weighed against the various methods of data collection that have been chosen as these can be very different in nature.

Some surveys, for example, are widely disseminated and circulate freely in a viral fashion.

Researchers sometimes use dissemination relays, such as associations, the media, or lists of individuals ready to circulate the survey in their networks. These surveys can reach thousands of respondents in a very short time. At Satisfyy.io we offer this type of solution to our clients through our viewing platform, which allows you to analyse your content on the Satisfyy.io community.

Another form of online survey is to use a closed list of email addresses, a panel of users already selected, for example. Access to the survey can then be limited to these users by means of passwords or a login.

At Satisfyy, we offer this type of solution with the help of private campaigns (see this article for more information) which allow content to be analysed on a selected panel of users.

Finally, more and more researchers are using panels of hundreds or even thousands of potential respondents selected to ensure a certain 'representativeness' of the population (Lindhjem and Navrud, 2011).

The literature shows that online surveys have many operational advantages. They have low operating costs (Deutskens et al., 2004: 20; Wang et al., 2013: 1007; Ganassali, 2008: 21; Bethlehem, 2008: 1; Stephenson and Crête, 2011: 27; Bigot et al., 2010: 20), and allow for rapid data collection (Deutskens et al., 2004: 21; Ganassali, 2008: 21; Bethlehem, 2008: 1; Stephenson and Crête, 2011: 27; Bigot et al. 2010: 20).

Sending reminders is facilitated by the use of email (Deutskens et al., 2004: 21), and the web mode eliminates the risk of error during data collection, which is more common in the postal mode (Stephenson and Crête, 2011: 27).

Unlike surveys that require the physical presence of respondents, online surveys also have the advantage of allowing respondents to initiate questionnaires at a time and place of their choosing, and to complete them within a time frame that is convenient for them (Lindhjem & Navrud, 2011: 12, Bigot et al., 2010: 21).

In addition, they are generally a simple and accessible method of data collection for those involved (Bigot et al., 2010: 6). Through emailing, this type of data collection method also allows for a wider geographic pool of respondents to be covered (Wang et al., 2013: 1007; Bethlehem 2008: 91; Bigot et al., 2010: 21).

Another advantage of the solutions developed by Satisfyy is that they eliminate the various biases that can be observed in "classic" surveys. Indeed, the measurement of users' reactions is done during the viewing, sequence by sequence, unlike a survey proposed at a later stage. Moreover, the solutions proposed by Satisfyy allow the elimination of the emotional state of each participant, which, unlike a traditional survey, reduces the impact of external events specific to each individual.

To find out more about the methodology behind the solutions proposed by Satisfyy, you can consult this article.

The limits of online surveys

The literature review shows that the biggest disadvantages of online surveys are related to sampling or what researchers refer to as coverage error: Any online study that aims to represent the general population has a coverage problem (unless one equips the non-equipped individuals) since the population is not fully equipped (Bigot et al., 2010: 30). (Bigot et al., 2010: 30).

On the one hand, online surveys are generally non-probabilistic, i.e. their sample is not controlled: we do not know who responds or who may respond. A probability sample is made up of individuals selected and targeted to proportionally represent the general population.

As seen above, at Satisfyy.io we deal with both cases: public campaign with an uncontrolled sample vs. private campaign with a controlled sample.

Researchers also disagree on the quality of response rates for online surveys, i.e. the number of people who complete the survey compared to the number of people contacted.

For some, these rates are either lower than those of other methods (Lindhjem & Navrud, 2011: 19; Shin et al., 2012: 223), similar (Ganassali, 2008: 21), or higher (Denscombe, 2006: 252).

Researchers Heerwegh and Loosveldt (2009) have investigated factors that may influence response rates in online surveys. Several studies have found that technical elements (survey login, username, password, etc.), rewards, reminders, content of the invitation email, status and photo of the pollster, and personalization of the invitation (Couper et al, 2001; Crawford et al. 2001; Heerwergh and Loosveldt 2002; Crawford et al. 2001; Guéguen and Jacob 2002; Porter and Withcomb 2003; Matthijs and Loosveldt 2005; Cook et al. 2000: 833; Pearson and Levine 20031; Tourkin et al. 20052 ) are factors that can influence online survey participation.

In order to maximise the conversion rate and the user journey, we have implemented premium campaigns that allow a pollster to customise the user journey and design.

Porter and Withcomb (2003: 586) examined the impact of contact type on response rates. The results of their study showed that the authority of the interviewer (whether they are known or not) has little impact on response rates.

A statement that the respondent was selected from among others and the addition of a deadline for participation in the study had a minor, but significant, impact.

The study by Pan et al (2013: 64) shows that the hierarchical position of the pollster responsible for the survey has a positive impact on response rates.

The success of survey invitations depends on three factors: the place where it is disseminated (blogs, websites, etc.), its visibility and the time at which it is activated. They also stress the importance of the introduction page, the disclosure of the centre's or institute's contact details, the promise of confidentiality and the parameters that frame it, as well as the use of a dynamic and welcoming visual.

At Satisfyy, respecting your privacy and that of your target audience is our priority. This is why no personal data is stored on our servers. Furthermore, our solution is anonymous and is not able to identify an individual.

The researchers also observed a disparity between the number of 'clicks' and the number of responses obtained, which they explain by the look of the survey and the lack of interest in responding.

Instead, Heerwegh and Loosveldt used the theory of planned behaviour to better understand what might influence an individual to respond to an online survey. The study was conducted using a postal survey, sent to respondents with an email address. The results of the study show that a pre-paid reward would be a greater incentive for individuals to complete the survey, due to a certain moral obligation to accept a prize on the condition that they provide the related service.

The researchers also stress the importance of not only providing simple login procedures, but also making them appear as such to respondents. Clearly communicating the purpose of the survey would also have a positive impact on respondents' cooperation.

If you have any queries about setting up an online survey, please contact us: hello@satisfyy.io

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