Guest Post by Bash Sarmiento, author, educator, marketing specialist.
Over the past few years, traditional surveys have taken a back seat as research methods for collecting information about people’s behavior. Over the past few years, traditional surveys have taken a back seat as research methods for collecting information about people’s behavior. This kind of data collection gathers data from in person interviews. It could be through door-to-door interviews, interviews at events, as well as mailing polls and questionnaires. This article focuses more on traditional surveys through mailing polls and questionnaires. Mailings often entail sending out survey materials that have answer options available via checking boxes. They also come with return envelopes and often include paid postage.
Researchers have moved from pencil and paper questionnaires to online platforms that offer many benefits to researchers, agencies and businesses. In fact, some studies have even recommended the use of websites over traditional surveys. However, traditional surveys still play a vital role in the field of marketing and other research as they provide a wealth of information. The following are just some of the benefits associated with traditional surveys:
1) Easier to Complete
Traditional surveys are easy. Anyone can complete them. They don’t require specialized skills, and there aren’t any complicated rules to follow. All the respondent needs is a pen or pencil and their time. There are also no special equipment requirements either. While other methods of data collection require expensive tools, traditional surveys only require pen and paper (in some cases, just a device).
You may be surprised by how quickly you can get responses to your questions. This makes it very quick to gain valuable insights into your target market, especially if you want to collect responses from hard-to-reach areas or dimensions of a population's demographics.
2) Can Lead to More Reliable Data
While other methods of gathering data may be considered by some to be more accurate than those done through traditional means, these methods can sometimes miss certain groups. For instance, people who access social media sites may not answer survey questions because they have opted out of having their data shared with third parties.
But with traditional surveys, most respondents are likely willing to answer your questions. Therefore, you can often garner good-quality data without the fuss. And if your questionnaire is designed and structured properly, you will get reliable results. You may find that you get different answers depending on whether you ask someone face-to-face or online. But this does not mean that the results are unreliable as there are many factors that contribute to reliability of data. It simply shows that you shouldn’t rely entirely on one method of data collection. In general, the more data you gather the better, and the more reliable your data is.
One reason why traditional surveys still remain popular among data gatherers including marketers, census bureaus, pollsters and researchers is that they are relatively inexpensive compared to some online alternatives. It doesn't take a lot of money to send out surveys. This cost advantage is another reason why traditional surveys remain relevant today. By taking the time to design effective surveys, you can also save money in the long run.
As mentioned earlier, unlike other methods of data collection, traditional surveys don't require any special programs. You don't need an IT person to create a survey. You don't need a programmer to set up the coding. You don’t need an expert to conduct focus groups. With traditional surveys, you can easily get started without expending too much time and effort. As long as you know what to ask, you can start creating a survey in minutes, or you can use existing surveys such as the Happiness Index.
4) Still Relevant
While online methods of data collection may seem more convenient, they do have limits. For example, they tend to attract younger and tech-savvy users, which may lead to skewed results. With traditional surveys, this isn’t a problem. People of all ages and backgrounds tend to participate in these types of data gathering efforts. As such, they remain relevant.
5) Can Be Integrated With Other Research Methods
The best part of living in the digital age is that you can use different tools in conjunction with traditional surveys. For example, you may use statistical software to analyze the results, or something simple like Excel and Tableau. You may integrate social media content analysis with surveys. Or you may even combine a few of these methods together. The key here is to remember that each research tool has its own strengths and weaknesses. Traditional surveys can be integrated with many other marketing methods so you can gather additional information about your population, whether customers or constituents, and opportunities.
6) Better Visualization of Results
Since surveys are usually designed to receive numerical responses, they're particularly well suited for visualizing data. You can easily convert the responses into charts or graphs that make sense for you. In addition, this makes it easier to share the results on different platforms.
In addition, traditional surveys allow you to create relationships between different sets of data. These connections may help you understand how your customers behave differently over time. They may also provide insights into behavior across various demographic segments.
Reduces "Interview Bias"
A common concern with other methods of data collection is interview bias. Interviews conducted by phone or in-person may involve some biases. When conducting interviews, people may respond in a way that makes them feel better about themselves. In some cases, the interviewer may influence the response. Traditional surveys using mail ballots provide a simple solution to this problem. Since the interviewer is eliminated in this method, there's no risk of interview bias influencing the results.
The Bottom Line
While traditional surveys aren't always the best way to collect data, there are still good reasons to use them for looking into the customer experience and population wellbeing. They offer several advantages over alternative methods and can even be used to provide you with actionable insight. In the long-run, traditional surveys can still play a vital role in the success of your business and marketing efforts; policy and governing efforts; and nonprofit and activist efforts to make the world a better place.