Convenience can be the key to gathering the feedback you need from online surveys. Follow these 5 tips.
Today’s online convenience surveys still play a significant role in data collection across many areas of research. Convenience surveys are an easy way to collect feedback quickly from an easily accessible group of subjects, requiring little effort and time. Convenience surveys, however, can cause a major disadvantage – they are not an accurate representation of the population, which can drastically skew results.
Use of online convenience surveys is quite popular and widespread. While they are not always representative of your larger population, they can be valid under certain circumstances. They’re a good tool to gather feedback on issues that are relevant to your research, and a good method to inspire new ideas.
The advantage of a convenience survey is the availability of participants. Researchers choose this type of population to gather feedback without having to travel or build an extensive group of participants. This can save significantly on both time and money, which is very beneficial to research that are tight on resources and budget.
An environment where convenience surveys can benefit is at a college or university. For example, numerous sociology students like to administer online surveys to across campus to learn more about a particular subject or issue, such as certain principles regarding social behaviors such as attitudes, onions and beliefs. Students can conveniently distribute their survey to their classmates as they are easy to access in the classroom, throughout campus, and via student forums, student email addresses, or on shared social networking sites. Student researchers are likely to benefit from high response rate.
Bottom-line, the important thing to remember is that in order for these surveys to produce value, participants need to turn into respondents – they need to complete the survey. The more participants to complete your survey, the more data you’ll collect, which you can use to draw conclusions and make informed decisions.
If this survey is truly important to the outcomes of your research, consider the following 5 tips:
- Promote: If you are taking the time and allocating the resources to conduct this online survey, it should be prominently displayed and thoroughly promoted. There are several areas you can promote your online convenience survey – on a website homepage, through an email campaign sent to known email addresses, through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, and in related forums.
- Importance: Always indicate what the survey is about so that your participants know why their response is important and appreciated. Compose a well written introduction statement for the opening page of your online survey detailing the objectives of the research and importance of participants’ opinions, comments, and overall feedback. If participants understand the objectives of the survey and why it is important for them to complete it, they’ll be far more likely to complete the survey because they see the importance of your research and want to help you get the information you need.
- Anonymity: If possible, do not ask questions that could identify the survey respondent. Clearly express how important confidentiality, anonymity, and security of respondent information is, and the steps you are taking to support your claim. Anonymity can often lead to more straightforward and honest responses, especially on topics that could be considered sensitive.
- Flow: Ensure the design of your survey has a nice, smooth flow. The sequence of individual survey questions as well as the sequence of each section in the online survey should have a logical flow, which naturally and easily leads respondents through the survey.
- Time: Respondents have limited time, patience, and a very short attention span. When it comes to online surveys, they want to know approximately how long it will take them to complete a survey. Don’t be misleading. Many respondents will drop out of your survey if they feel it is taking too long. Adding a progress bar displays how far along they are in the survey and how much longer it will take to complete the survey.