Deciding Between Phone and Online Surveys

However, fielding phone surveys and analyzing the results typically takes more time than others methods, and that typically results in a higher project cost and a longer completion schedule.

Conversely, in many markets, online surveys offer a significantly faster turnaround, which usually translates to a significantly lower cost. However, even with access to respondent panels, it’s much more difficult to achieve a truly random sample. For example, it is significantly more difficult to gather sufficient email addresses for a truly random sample of government employees than it is for consumers or commercial-sector employees. Furthermore, respondents may have a stronger tendency to rush through the survey in order to get the incentive, which means they may not carefully read and understand some questions or give careful thought to their answers. Both issues can raise concerns about the accuracy and quality of the data.

When helping clients decide between the two approaches, we assess numerous factors, including how long they can wait for the results, the research objectives, the complexity and nature of the desired data, the target audience, availability of appropriate panels or email address lists, budget considerations, and so forth. With further study, we can also help them assess the potential response and accuracy rates of both approaches. In fact, in some circumstances, we recommend a hybrid approach that incorporates both the phone and online methods in order to achieve the response rate that’s high enough to represent the market as a whole.

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to research. Therefore, the best way to determine how to collect the market intelligence you need is to engage an experienced market research provider who will work with you to build the most appropriate methodology based on your target audience, research objectives, budget, and timeline.