Survey research: good, bad, and weird

“We’d love to hear your customer feedback, because it’s extremely important to us.”

This is one of the most common phrases you come across when sending out surveys by email. In most cases, companies decide to use similar wording at the beginning or end of the survey letter. However, have you ever thought about the stages of collecting this information and its analysis? Did you know that the analyst may have specific information about the users completing the survey?

This became possible due to the availability of a wide range of tools for creating and working with surveys, which began to appear with the spread of various information technologies and tools. At the same time, surveys are becoming more and more important as each company realizes the value of the opinions of its customers.

Thus, it becomes quite clear that all polls, the peculiarities of their compilation and their subsequent analysis, require additional attention. We also share a similar point of view, for which we have compiled a special guide, which will contain specific examples of good, bad and even strange polls.

First of all, we need to understand the topic of the survey that we are going to conduct. What needs to be done for this? Let’s look at a rather funny example.

You have finally decided to have a party among your former classmates, and now you are preparing the menu for this momentous event. Suddenly you are thinking about what kind of cake you want to treat your guests? American, Indian, Chinese, Mexican? You can guess for a long time, but to get an unambiguous answer, you just need to ask a specific question to them. After that, you go to one of the social networks or e-mail, sending each question with answer options. After collecting all the answers, you choose the most popular option. An extremely simple algorithm of actions.

Does the process seem familiar and understandable to you? Of course, but have you ever thought that by doing so you created a mini-survey? If you scale it to a large number of guests, then you can easily figure out what most modern companies do at the stages of working with clients.

Thus, we can derive the definition that a survey is a procedure for collecting information from a certain group of people for which special questionnaires or other forms of data collection are used. After all the necessary information has been collected, it is thoroughly analyzed, which allows you to understand a specific topic.

Now we have considered the basics of polls and the intricacies of their conduct, and now we will dwell on the types of polls in more detail.

  1. Descriptive survey.

You can’t figure out how and when to make a product, or you want to know which product will be in high demand. In a situation like this, descriptive research is best for you because it helps you understand what your customers need. Now it is enough just to conduct a survey for this. If you are in doubt about the best way to design such a survey, then you can consider examples of such forms of collecting information.

Consider a certain company A that has decided to enter the potato chips market and is trying to determine the most preferred flavors of its audience. To do this, they open a special kiosk, where everyone can try different examples of their products in order to choose the most preferable for a particular person. Employees of this kiosk record the age of those taking the survey, taste preferences, as well as any additional information. After a period of data collection, analysis is carried out and the company selects flavors for the chips.

  1. Causal survey.

The main point of such surveys is to understand the causal relationships that determine the characteristics and subtleties of your interaction with the audience. This category of surveys will appeal to anyone who likes to conduct research on their target audience. Example use case: You are a brand looking to understand how a new logo will affect customer demand.

It is necessary to collect this data, and then analyze the dynamics of changes in sales from the moment the logo was changed. After comparing the results for two time intervals, you will receive an answer as to which logo suits best.

  1. Research survey.

This category of surveys is the basis for all existing marketing strategies, so it is extremely important to conduct them at regular intervals. It is mandatory to conduct a research survey before entering a specific market, since this way you can secure your own investments.

If you have already passed the initial stages of development, and are now looking for ways to improve your own products, then it is best to use open-ended questions. It is best to use the following questions here: “How can we improve our products?”, “What advice do you want to give us?”

How to choose a specific type of survey?

Depending on your goals, you are faced with a rather difficult choice of selecting a particular survey. It is very important not to make a mistake here, since the quality of the work of your entire company will depend on it. So how do you determine the type of survey you want? We decided to answer this question by presenting a list of existing types of research, so that you better understand the intricacies of each of them, and can decide.

  1. Online surveys.

Online surveys are the most popular option in the modern world, as information technology plays an increasingly important role in the life of society. In addition, we must not forget about other advantages of this approach, for example:

1) Ease of deployment. You can quickly create a survey on the Internet without using too many resources.

2) The ability to reach a large audience. By distributing surveys on the Internet, a company can reach many customers extremely quickly.

However, there are other benefits too! For example, users get enough time to complete surveys, which relieve unnecessary pressure. In this way, a useful symbiosis of fast and large-scale collection of information is achieved without undue pressure on their customers.

  1. Paper polls

Despite the rapid development of information technology, there are still quite a lot of fans of the old methods of research using ordinary pen and paper. Of course, they no longer enjoy the same popularity as before, but they have certain advantages, because of which they continue to be used. For example, they remain the only available method in places where there is no stable internet or electricity.

At the same time, it is important to remember about the significant disadvantages, since paper reviews are the most expensive of all. In addition, you will need to spend a lot of time resources on their implementation and subsequent analysis, because it will be impossible to use advanced analytics tools here. Thus, before choosing paper surveys, you should seriously think about all sides of this issue.

  1. Telephone interview.

If you prefer live conversations in real time, you can use telephone surveys to collect information. This approach not only involves collecting certain information, but also building a personal relationship with the client. Done correctly, this method allows for the most loyalty from participating customers.

However, it is important to remember that telephone surveys, as well as paper-based surveys, can be time-consuming. At the same time, we must not forget that not everyone will want to pick up the phone.

  1. Individual interviews.

Are you sure that in a personal conversation you can find out all the necessary information and build relationships? Then the one-to-one interview option is right for you. Quite a lot here is determined by the qualifications and experience of the interviewer, who will need to prepare interesting and consistent questions. They will need to get the respondent talking and help with data collection. This type of survey cannot be used if you or a potential respondent do not have 1 hour of free time.

Next, we will focus on all the intricacies of conducting surveys, not only positive, but also negative.



Regardless of which form of data collection you choose, it will be characterized by significant availability. You will surely be able to find a convenient and informative survey option, regardless of your budget. In addition, quite often the analysts of a company enjoy creating and working with surveys, which can be an added benefit because they will not overpay for their work. Therefore, your budget will not suffer serious losses.


Companies and brands are always forced to collect data from a large number of customers. Think about the scale of this process and realize that, for example, online surveys can do this extremely quickly and at a low cost. This cannot but arouse admiration. It is blasphemy not to consider such practicality an advantage.

Fast processing

Surveys, especially those conducted using online tools, allow you to collect and process information extremely quickly, and after a couple of clicks you can contact thousands and hundreds of thousands of users. Another advantage of using online tools is the fact that they analyze the data for you. Hence, you can forget about wasting your time.

Pleasure from the process

Believe me, the times when the survey was a long and extremely tedious process are long gone. There are now many tools for gamification of the process in the public domain, so you can easily adapt your request to wider needs. Therefore, you no longer need to use template questions, but constantly prepare questionnaires aimed at the characteristics of your target audience.


Dishonest answers

Unfortunately, surveys cannot guarantee you the truthfulness of the information they collect, as respondents may accidentally or deliberately give false answers. In most cases, this raises quite sensitive questions that users may not want to give an honest and fair answer.

Lack of emotion

Emotions can only be realized through personal interviews, and emotions can have a key impact on the accuracy of survey data.

Difference in current understanding

Some of the questions may leave some uncertainty or understatement, the perception of which will remain on the conscience of users. Therefore, the accuracy of the answer will depend on the subjective perception of a particular respondent. For this reason, it is very important to prepare questions in such a way that their wording does not leave ambiguity.

Refusal to participate

Survey data will only be useful if it reflects the opinion of an audience of certain sizes. However, getting the right number of people to take a survey can be tricky. Therefore, it is very important to prepare incentives that will encourage as many people as possible to take surveys.

Let’s look at a few examples.

We’ve already covered a lot of useful information about surveys and the specifics of conducting it, but it’s time to move on to some practical points.

Opinion manipulation

Quite often in surveys, there is a question designed in such a way that it will push the user towards a certain answer option, and not the one he really thinks about. Consequently, it will negatively affect the veracity of the survey.

Inaccurate question

For example: “What do you think about the last purchase?”

With such a formulation of the question, it is rather difficult to obtain true quantitative data, therefore it is best to transform it into a “yes / no” question.

Too hard questions

Sometimes there are complex questions in surveys, where it is necessary to answer several questions at the same time or to evaluate many parameters. This is also incorrect, since the user will probably omit some of the details.

Don’t use a lot of numbers

Consider a funny example: “According to a British study, 30% of American youth drink alcohol. The survey participants were people not younger than 13 and not older than 20 years old, it was started in 2013 ”. Do not give too many numbers, because this makes the text difficult to understand.

Don’t use too many terms and complex definitions

This point is very reminiscent of the past. Obviously, complex terminology, as well as a lot of numbers, will confuse the user, which will increase the likelihood of his refusal to participate in the survey.


It cannot be denied that surveys are the most important tool for collecting information, but their effectiveness and usefulness will be determined by how competently you approach their preparation and further use.

Prepare some really useful questions that will allow you to organize the most effective interaction with your target audience. Do not forget about the introduction of modern technologies to automate the process, which will make it much more convenient, as well as have a positive effect on the accuracy of the data taken. Feel free to regularly review how you conduct surveys in order to regularly improve your competence in this matter.




Photo by Leon on Unsplash