Online Survey

Online Survey Definition

Online survey or internet survey, is one of the most popular data-collection sources, where a set of survey questions is sent out to a target sample and the members of this sample can respond to the questions over the world wide web. Respondents receive online surveys via various mediums such as email, embedded over website, social media etc.

Organizations implement online surveys to use the internet in order to gain insights and feedback about upcoming products or services, change in marketing strategies, enhancement in current features etc. With the progress made by the internet, more and more organizations depend on the data received and analyzed from online surveys to make integral changes in their functioning. For efficient data collection, organizations must choose an advanced and efficient online survey platform.

The primary reason for the growth seen in the implementation of online survey is that they are extremely low cost and conducting an online survey is convenient due to the sheer magnitude of reach. Over the past decade, researchers have started preferring conducting surveys using an online survey tool as they can send out surveys from the desktops or laptops and their target audience can respond to these surveys whenever possible.

Characteristics of Online Surveys

There are six distinct characteristics that should ideally define online surveys.

  1. Purpose of the online survey: This is the most important characteristic of online surveys. An established survey can only lead to appalling results. Researchers should decide the objective of conducting an online survey so that the gauged results can be used to enhance products/service, customer service or any other pre-decided objective.
  2. Accurate research design: For an online survey to bear efficient results, it is important for the researcher to design a thorough research design. How to carry out market research and analysis using online surveys – this can be decided by implementing research design. Research design will help market researchers in deciding how to collect information using online surveys and how to measure and analyze collected data.The type of research design can be decided according to the research problem an organization is facing. Upon detecting the research problem, a market researcher can decide from among various types of research design: Cross-sectional, longitudinal, experimental, correlational etc. In case, an organization intends to conduct an online survey at a particular time, the researchers can rely on cross-sectional research design and in situations where the organization wants to observe a change in pattern from a particular time interval to another, the researchers can rely on longitudinal research design.
  3. Precisely structured survey questions: An efficient survey should include a carefully curated balance of open-ended and closed-ended survey questions. There are various question types which can suffice different purposes of online surveys. The questions added in an online survey should be effective in obtaining the required information from the selected sample. Some of the most widely used survey questions are Multiple-choice questions, Dichotomous questions, Matrix questions, Likert Scale questions etc.A researcher will be able to gather effective information from online surveys only when the purpose of the survey is justified with the type of survey questions. For example, Likert scale questions can be used to know the level of agreement of respondents with a particular statement, or Matrix questions can be used where there is a long list of similar questions and there is a likelihood of respondents dropping off a survey if these questions are not combined. Researchers should understand the purpose of an online survey to ensure that the survey questions are well-structured to garner crucial details.
  4. Clearly defined target sample: A sample is a representative section of target respondents who represent the required characteristics for research and whose inputs can be generalized and applied to the entire target market.After filtering a sample from the target population, the number of individuals who are a part of the sample will be indicative of the sample size. A sample can be formed on the basis of various aspects such as demographics, profession or any other factor according to the researcher’s experience and knowledge.Samples can be formed using two sampling methods:
    • Probability Sampling: A theory of probability is used to form a sample using the Probability Sampling method. In this sampling method, every individual of a target population has an equal opportunity to be a part of a selected sample.
    • Non-probability Sampling: Non-probability sampling is a technique where the sample is chosen on the basis of the researcher’s judgment, experience and knowledge and not on random selection.
  5. Collection and Analysis of respondent feedback: Including the right survey questions and sending the online survey to the desired sample can lead to productive results only if the collected results are well-analyzed to make informed decisions for the organization. With online survey software such as QuestionPro, researchers can get analyzed data on a dashboard which keeps updating real-time as respondents take the online survey. The data presented on this dashboard is in the form charts and graphs for the ease of statistical analysis for market research.
  6. Transparent reporting of survey responses: The research reports created using data obtained from online surveys should be shared with all the stakeholders of the organizations so that each member is aware of the data gathered from surveys. Every respondent should also understand that their inputs are being implemented by the organization – this way, they will trust the organization in being honest about providing feedback for improvement.

How to create Online Surveys?

A survey creator can use one of the three below-mentioned ways to create an online survey. Using QuestionPro, you can create surveys either from scratch or by importing a survey from a word document or by using the ready-made templates.

New Survey: With over 40+ question types offered by QuestionPro, a survey maker can conveniently create an online survey from scratch. Every section of this online survey is customizable. For instance, the color theme of the organization can be embedded in the survey along with other angels of branding.

Create an online survey from scratch

Import from a Word Document: By following a particular syntax, researchers can create an online survey by importing a word document to the survey software.

Create an online survey using Word document


Templates: QuestionPro offers over 300 survey templates that can be implemented to create surveys in a matter of seconds. These templates are segregated into categories for ease of use too.

Steps to improve survey response rate while creating a survey:

  • Be quick: The shorter a survey, the better it is to receive quicker responses as it increases the chances of the respondents finishing it.
  • Offer gift coupons and other incentives: A Starbuck or an Amazon gift coupon and also other incentives will motivate the respondents to complete the survey.
  • Purchase a reliable audience: With a platform such as QuestionPro Audience that has more than 22 million panelists onboard, an organization can be assured to receive accurate responses that fulfill their target.

Online Survey Examples

An online survey can be an imperative tool to gather information from either customers or employees.

Let’s take an example of customer satisfaction online survey:

  • It is very critical for a brand providing door-to-door food delivery service to be on top of customer satisfaction. They always need to evaluate customer feedback and the most effective method to collect customer satisfaction feedback is by conducting an online survey.
  • After every delivery executive delivers food, the brand can either include a rating scale survey on their mobile application or the website.
  • Customers can provide input about their experience in real-time and the brand can continuously work on making enhancements in their food and delivery quality.

Another example of conducting the online survey is an employee engagement survey.

  • A major part of an organization’s success depends on its employees. Keeping employees engaged requires constant effort from the management. Conducting online surveys at regular time intervals will help the HR team in evaluating employee engagement levels amongst employees.
  • Analyzing the feedback received and improving on the aspects that employees think can be improved, an organization can ensure that employee satisfaction rates are improved over a period of time.

For online surveys conducted for analyzing customer satisfaction or engagement, it can be very important for researchers to choose an appropriate sample, a sample which can represent a target population. Various probability sampling methods such cluster sampling, simple random sampling, stratified sampling and systematic sampling and also non-probability sampling methods such as snowball sampling, judgmental sampling, convenience sampling, consecutive sampling and quota sampling are to be implemented for impactful results.

Advantages of Online Surveys

  • Faster medium to reach the target audience: In comparison to the other survey techniques such as pen-and-paper surveys, online surveys are exceedingly fast in acquiring feedback from respondents.
  • Real-time analysis: After collecting information, the analysis is an important step for researchers to take prompt actions. With online survey software available, researchers can analyze collected data in real-time from a central dashboard.
  • Cost-efficient: Due to the minimum required resources, online surveys are much cheaper than the other survey methods such as telephonic or pen-and-paper surveys.
  • Minimum margin-of-error: Unlike the traditional survey methods, respondents directly answer the surveys, without the involvement of a mediator. The margin-of-error in case of online surveys is hence, very limited.
  • Convenient to understand for respondents: Online surveys are usually very easy to answer as they either come to the email inbox or social media, it can be answered with a click.
  • Saves researchers’ time: Online surveys are quick to configure and send and due to the ease, they tend to save researchers’ time.
  • Respondents are more truthful: When an online survey is conducted within a target audience, researchers allow respondents to answer anonymously. Due to the anonymity involved in online surveys, respondents usually depict a more honest and truthful behavior in providing feedback.

Disadvantages of Online Surveys

  • Respondent Cooperation Issues: Online users are usually bombarded with surveys, offers, and many other internet antics. There are chances that an important online survey can be overlooked or left unanswered.
  • Questionable data reliability: Online surveys are conducted in the absence of a mediator or interviewer. Due to this absence, the feedback received, in many cases may be considered questionable.
  • Limited access to certain sections of a population: There are sections of a target population which may not have access to the world wide web. In many cases, feedback from such individuals may prove to be effective for research. For example, if an NGO is conducting research to learn about the less fortunate people of Ghana, it is highly unlikely that they have access to online surveys which makes it difficult for researchers to collect data. But, QuestionPro offline mobile application allows an offline collection of information without Wifi and cell phone connectivity.