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What is Online/Internet Survey ? | Meaning, Utility, Advantages & Disadvantages

online survey

What is Online Survey ?

Email survey or internet/online survey is a method of data collection in which internet is used as a medium for connecting with respondents. Here, the interested individuals who have provided their email addresses are sent questionnaires online. They fill-up these questionnaires and send it back to the researcher via email. The respondents can also enquire about the doubt in any question or suggest some more questions. In case of sufficient response rate, these email surveys prove to be more quick and cost effective than traditional survey methods. Moreover, majority of organisations use their own websites far conducting such surveys.

Different online communities like blogs, forums, chat rooms, research communities, newsgroups, social networking sites, etc., are used by researchers in online surveys to collect the information about discuss interests and consumption pattern of different individuals. People on these communities about different food, electronics, movies, computers, fashion, etc., which is very helpful for researchers to collect desired data. Moreover, the cost incurred in collecting such data is very less than that of traditional methods. The overall survey is flexible in nature due to interactive property of the internet or emails.

Online Survey Sites

Online survey sites are the websites which conduct surveys for different organisations on their own. One such website is Survey Monkey. Some of these survey sites pay the respondents for participating in the survey. Few of these survey sites provide their services free of cost. The main source of income of such survey sites are the ads shown to participants. However, it is not wise to conduct high-quality surveys on such websites. Static questionnaires are used in such online surveys which are sometimes irrespective of the respondents responses. Sometimes respondents also answer those questions that should be skipped. These answers are also included in the software for declaring result.

Some online survey sites perform the questionnaire preparation and analysis function also. These sites offer different options for the type of questions to be included in the questionnaire. The prepared questionnaire is distributed and collected by the site itself. The data analysis part of the survey is also conducted by the site along with presenting different charts, graphs and tables. All of these services are free of cost. Certain polls can also be conducted on some blogs. Different types of incentives are used by survey sites to attract respondents to attend the survey.

Utility of Online Survey Sites 

Online survey sites can be used in following manner :

1) Distributing Surveys : 
Online survey sites are majorly used for distributing surveys to different individuals residing in any comer of the world.

2) Tracking Participants and Sending Reminders : 
The exact number of participants who have joined the survey can be detected by such online survey sites. Comparatively less time is consumed in conducting surveys on such websites. The researcher can also send reminders to the participants for increasing their response rates.

3) Producing Accurate Results : 
In such online survey sites, the questions are asked in a right manner so as to deliver right results. Unlike in face-to-face or personal surveys, here, accurate information is collected through online surveys.

4) Providing Confidentiality and Security :
These online survey sites offer total security and confidentiality in conducting surveys and delivering results. Every piece of information is kept secure with different passwords and firewalls.

Disadvantages of Online Survey

Constraints associated with online survey sites are as follows :

1) Less Number of Respondents : 
Still in India, there are few geographical areas where internet services are poor, which leads to less number of respondents.

2) Limited Sampling :
In case of poor internet access, number of website visitors or email addresses of respondents are very less, that is why survey sites are not able to develop sufficient samples.

3) Possible Cooperation Problems : 
Respondents do not always show their interests in surveys mailed to them as number of survey messages tare bombarded in their inboxes. 

4) Less Reliable Data : 
The data obtained through such survey sites is less reliable because there is no provision of an interviewer for describing the survey questions to the respondents.

Advantages of Online Survey

Following points highlight the significance/importance of internet survey : 

1) Cost-effective : 
The primary merit d email/internet-surveys is its low cost. It saves thousands of rupees of the researchers.

2) Automation and Real-Time Access : 
Another significance of internet surveys is the automation and real-time access feature. The responses of different respondents are automatically recorded and stored in the electronic form. The data recorded can be instantly used for analysis purpose.

3) Time-saving : 
Surveys can be deployed or returned to the concerned respondents quickly in case of wrong email addresses of the respondents.

4) Convenience for Respondents : 
Email surveys offer convenience for the respondents as they choose their own time and speed for filling the questionnaires. They can fill it in one take or in parts.

5) Flexibility in Design : 
Internet surveys have high level of flexibility in designing. Different complex skip programs and logic's can be used to facilitate respondents to skip questions in the questionnaire. Programs are also used for entry of only one response for a question.

6) Sharing of Personal Information : 
As there is no interviewer for data collection, respondents do not hesitate to share their personal information in internet surveys.

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