the RISE OF ONLINE
The online survey has long been one of the best ways to get feedback from a specifically tailored audience. There is a vast new list of advantages that online can offer such as depth, accuracy and speed. It’s also the quickest in terms of turnaround for data and providing options that the old-fashioned paper survey cannot offer, i.e. the drop-down menu, sliders, and many more options that simply cannot be accommodated by more traditional approaches.
The primary advantage is quality of response - innovative methodologies such as pin boards, heat maps and max diff questions offer researchers new ways of approaching their desired markets. It has never been easier for researchers to get the data they need. The data we can collect is by far more substantial than anything we could gather before; this becomes apparent when looking at different question types. Take the max-diff (maximum difference scaling). This is where a series of questions and/ or statements are presented and the respondent is asked to choose the most important and the least important; this encourages them to identify the best / worst or least / most attributes of the subject matter. By asking the respondent to compare several aspects of one subject, it encourages a more thoughtful response. Simply put, it provides an insight in to how people make choices. It allows researchers to know what the consumers/ respondents wants even if they don’t know themselves.
Online methodologies open a study up to wider audiences geographically, with researchers now being able to conduct research anywhere, in any way, and at any time. The most noticeable example is the face to face interview. It has been said “the face is the mirror of the mind” and with new technologies and advancements in video calling we are now able to see the expressions behind the words. Whereas before to get this kind of coverage moderators would have to travel across the UK, using up their research budget and time, video calling technology now provides an instant link between moderator and respondent. It allows the world of research the ability to identify and analyse every little smile, frown or even a look of contempt. There is even now the ability to incorporate these technologies within the online survey, giving you access to a fully automated, self-moderated interview, without the need for any moderators or interviewers – all the respondent needs are a smartphone, tablet, or PC with a camera – it’s as simple as that.
Accuracy is crucial for any research project. Corrupted data or those pesky cheaters, speeders, or multiple responders and the data is ruined. This is simultaneously a strength and weakness of online surveys. With any research and whatever form it might take, these problems are always there. Unfortunately, with the rise of online comes those respondents looking to make an easy penny, to take advantage of a quick survey, and in the process possibly damage your hard work. But worry not, with any type of research there are measures that have been put into place to stop these people. With such a large sample size, we now have the ability to scrutinise panels, to pick and choose only the best respondents for our client’s projects. We have introduced methods to catch speeders by implementing time constraints on questions as well as many more ways of deterring and making sure the clients research is reaching the relevant respondent. This is all done and put into action to ensure that only the most accurate sample has been used.
Lastly there is speed. The consumer market is forever changing on a daily basis: the way we shop, the way we think, and the way in which we live. It’s all getting quicker and the importance of adapting to that speed with regards to the research we do has never been more crucial. For the first time in history, with a few clicks of a button researchers can ask the questions they want, how they want, and receive a response within a few hours. They can even receive fully comprehensive data tables in the format of their choosing within a single day. This means researchers are able to know what the market is doing almost before it’s doing it.
With the increase in tablets and smartphones speed is undeniably the main reason behind the rise of online, but it is the depth and accuracy that allows it to be so effective. These three characteristics have allowed online research to grow so rapidly, and together these characteristics will help it grow even further in the future.