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Five Different Types of Survey Methods


There are many reasons why surveys are important. Surveys help researchers and companies find solutions, evoke discussions, and make decisions. They can also get to the bottom of the really important stuff, like, coffee or tea? Dogs or cats? Elvis or The Beatles? Of course, there are also a variety of types of survey methods researchers and companies may choose to employ. Here’s a look at the top five types of survey methods being used today.

1. In-Person Surveys

This used to be one of the most popular types of survey to conduct. It involves conducting face-to-face surveys with an individual or sometimes a group of individuals (similar to a focus group). While this method of surveying may seem antiquated when today we have online surveying at our fingertips (which can eliminate the need to hire, train, and pay an interviewer), it still serves a purpose. 

In-person surveys, sometimes called household surveys, are usually conducted when a researcher or company wants to discuss something personal with people, and has questions that may require extensive probing to uncover the truth. While some interviewees may be more comfortable answering questions confidentially behind a keyboard, a skilled interviewer is able to put them at ease and get genuine responses that go deeper than you may be able to get through other methods. 

Often, in-person interviews are recorded on camera so that an expert can review them afterwards and determine if the answers given may be false based on an interviewee’s change in tone or particular facial expressions and body movements. 

2. Telephone Surveys

Telephone surveys rose to popularity in the late 50s and early 60s when the telephone became common in most American households (they were used prior to this, sometimes to bad effect; in a recent blog, we recounted how the predictions for the 1948 presidential election were completely botched because of a sampling bias in telephone surveys). 

Most telephone survey research types are conducted through random digit dialing (RDD). RDD can reach both listed and unlisted numbers, improving sampling accuracy. Surveys are conducted by interviewers through computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) software. CATI displays the questionnaire to the interviewer with a rotation of questions and a skip feature that can be engaged depending on responses. 

Today, with many people refusing to take telephone surveys or simply not answering calls from a number they don’t recognize, a more popular form of telephone surveying has arisen. It’s called IVR, or interactive voice response, and there is no interviewer involved. Instead, customers record answers to pre-recorded questions using numbers on their touch-tone key pads. 

If a question is open-ended, the interviewee can respond by speaking and the system records the answer. IVR surveys are often deployed to measure how a customer feels about a service they just received; for example, after calling your bank, you may be asked to stay on the line to answer a series of brief questions about your experience..

3. Mail-in Surveys

Delivered right to respondent’s doorsteps, mail surveys were frequently used before the advent of the internet when respondents were spread out geographically and budgets were modest. After all, mail-in surveys didn’t require much cost other than the postage and a postage-paid return envelope. 

While it may seem that mail-in surveys are going the way of the dinosaur, they are still occasionally more valuable compared to different methods of surveying. Because they are going to a specific name and home address, they often feel more personalized, prompting the recipient to complete the survey. 

They’re also good for surveys of significant length; most people have short attention spans, and won’t spend more than a few minutes on the phone or filling out an online survey (at least, not without an incentive). With a mail-in survey, the person can complete it at their leisure. They can fill out some of it, set it aside, and then come back to it later to complete it. This gives mail-in surveys a relatively high response rate.

4. Kiosk Surveys

Conducted on a computer screen at a physical kiosk, these types of surveys have been popping up in stores, hotel lobbies, hospitals, office spaces – just about anywhere you want to collect data from customers, clients, or passers-by. Kiosk surveys provide immediate feedback following a purchase or an interaction, collecting responses while the experience is still fresh in the respondent’s mind and their judgement is more trustworthy. 

5. Online Surveys

Online surveys have really taken off, and they can be used by anyone for just about anything. Because they’re housed on the internet or sent via email, they can be easily customized for a particular audience. The internet also makes it very easy to reach a very broad audience (but just as easy to reach only a handful of people), and that’s been very beneficial for companies that also want international responses. 

At one time, there was concern that online surveys had an age bias. However, today there is a much better balance between age groups using the internet. According to Statista, the share of adults in the United States using the internet in 2019 are as follows:

  • 18-29 years old 100%
  • 30-49 years old 97%
  • 50-60 years old 88%

That’s not all; online surveys can be taken just about anywhere thanks to mobile devices. Use of these devices across age groups is balancing out as well. Data shows that in 2018, use of a smartphone by age group was as follows:

  • 18-29 years old 96%
  • 30-49 years old 92%
  • 50-60 years old 79%

With more and more people accessing the internet through their mobile devices, now you can reach teens while they’re between classes and adults during their subway commute to work. Can’t say that for those other types of surveys!

Lastly, online surveys are also extremely cost-efficient. There’s no money spent on paper, printing, postage, or an interviewer. This significantly reduced set-up and administration costs, allowing researchers and companies to send out a survey very expeditiously. Additionally, many online survey tools provide in-depth analysis of survey data, saving you from having to spend money on further research once the survey is complete. 

Start Surveying with SurveyLegend

If you’ve reviewed these different types of survey methods and think a kiosk survey or an online, mobile survey is right for you, we can help! Here are a few things that make SurveyLegend the ideal choice for your research or your business needs.

  • When it comes to surveys, brief is best to keep respondent attention, so SurveyLegend automatically collects some data, such as the participant’s location, reducing the number of questions you have to ask.
  • People like eye candy and many surveys are just plain dull. SurveyLegend offers beautifully rendered pre-designed surveys that will get your participant’s attention – and keep it through to completion!
  • Today, most surveys are taken on mobile devices, and often surveys created on desktop computers don’t translate well, resulting in a high drop-off rate. SurveyLegend’s designs are responsive, automatically adjusting to any screen size.

Get started with your online survey using SurveyLegend for free right now. Have comments or questions? Give us a call!

Online Surveys: Advantages vs. Disadvantages


Have a question? A survey can get you an answer! While surveys have long been a popular way to gather research, today’s online survey tools have made this approach more popular than ever. 

Surveys offer researchers quantitative data that can be studied and analyzed, and provide companies with insight into various aspects of their business. While the benefits of surveys far outweigh the negatives, there are both pros and cons to surveys, and it’s important to understand each to determine whether conducting a survey is right for you.

Six Advantages of Surveys

1. Surveys Are Cost-Effective

How much does a survey cost? The answer really depends on a bunch of factors, such as survey type, delivery methods, and the incentives you use to get people to answer the survey. However, there is generally a very small survey cost per participant. 

Even when factoring in incentives, which can be as low at $2 per person, online surveys are very cost-effective. Now, if you were to require respondents to show up in person, they’ll expect significantly more money for their time! With online surveys, there’s also no need to pay an interviewer or to pay for postage on mail surveys.

2. Surveys Can Be Easily Administered

Surveys used to require an in-person interview, logging a lot of phone calls, or mailing out questionnaires. Today, with the advent of online survey tools, surveys have become much easier to administer and more than 50% of respondents are completing them on their mobile devices.

3. Surveys Can Be Conducted Remotely

In the past, some surveys were limited by geography; for example, an American company trying to capture the opinion of Europeans on a potential new product either had to pay to mail surveys (with no guarantee they’d be returned), send representatives overseas, or place expensive phone calls. A big benefit of surveys is that by using online surveys, today’s researchers and companies can connect with people anywhere in the world for very little cost.

4. Surveys Provide Large Sample Sizes

Too often, researchers and companies make the mistake of assuming a small sampling of people represents the general consensus. Underrepresentation of a portion of the population is largely thought to be a big contributing factor for the surprise outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. With online surveying, thousands of participants are within reach, allowing you to expand your sample size to extract data that matches attributes of the larger population, getting you more conclusive results.

5. Surveys Offer Easy Data Analysis

Surveys tend to be standardized, providing quantifiable data that can be easily compiled and analyzed. While qualitative survey research techniques, such as focus groups or phone interviews, may yield some interesting answers, analyzing responses becomes more difficult (and potentially inaccurate). In addition, many online survey programs offer advanced statistical tools that can be used to analyze survey data to determine validity, reliability, and statistical significance.

6. Surveys Provide Candid Responses

Honesty is important in data collection, otherwise, your analysis – and the action(s) you take due to it – can be skewed. Whereas in-person or telephone surveys can cause a person to “clam up” or be untruthful with their answers, most online surveys offer anonymity, which is more likely to result in people giving their true thoughts and feelings on any given subject. 

Three Disadvantages of Surveys

1. Surveys Have Close-Ended Questions

Most surveys have close-ended questions, meaning the respondent has no choice but to select an answer or choose “not applicable” or “other.” While close-ended questions make surveys easy to analyze, they may have a lower validity rate than other types of questions (you can, of course, create surveys with open-ended questions).

2. Surveys Can Have Non-Response Bias

Sometimes, people just won’t respond to a survey; they’ll decline an interview, hang up the phone, or delete your email! When a large portion of survey-takers don’t respond, and their answers may have been very different from those who did respond, it can create misleading conclusions, otherwise known as non-response bias. Read more about survey bias, and how to avoid it, in our blog: Different Types of Survey Bias and How to Avoid Them.

3. Survey Sample Choice Could Be Incorrect

While survey research allows companies to sample a large portion of the population, it’s imperative that researchers don’t make assumptions about their sample that may not be accurate. For example, if you are trying to obtain feedback about a new Medicaid program, which provides financial support to people with limited income and resources, many of these people may not have email access, so their opinions won’t be included in your data.

Find Survey Success with SurveyLegend!

As you can see, when it comes to the pros and cons of surveys, there is definitely more of the former! We mentioned earlier how beneficial online survey tools can be, so get started with SurveyLegend today. We offer a variety of types and styles of surveys, beautifully rendered and pre-designed, and responsive on any size screen, along with real-time analytics that will give you an insane amount of insight. 

You can check out some of our survey examples and templates now, or contact us to learn more or to find out how much it costs to conduct a survey (hint: it’s not much, and we’ve got some great deals going on now too!). 


Why You Should Be Using Teacher Surveys


We really can learn a lot from teachers – and, maybe it’s time we started listening. A recently released MetLife survey reveals that teacher satisfaction across the country is at its lowest point in two decades. 

Why? The survey notes that administration is putting more pressure on teachers lately, and that criticism of teachers is at an all-time high, with them often taking the brunt of the blame for everything that’s wrong with public education today.

One way that school leadership can begin to better understand the needs and concerns of their teachers and staff is through teacher surveys.

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Why Getting Student Survey Feedback is So Important

SurveyLegend loves students & teachers

We know, there are a lot of student survey tools for teachers and educators. Plus the answers you get could be overly simple – such as “longer recesses” from grade-schoolers and “no Friday classes before noon” from university students. 

While it’s safe to assume surveying students of any age will bring about some of these frivolous requests, many students take a more thoughtful approach to surveys when they’re conducted appropriately, helping educators to see what’s important in their students’ world so they can institute better plans and goals, administer funding, and more.

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How Can Non-Profit Organizations Use a Survey?

SurveyLegend loves students & teachers

Non-profit organizations are very different from for-profit organizations. But, there is one thing they certainly have in common: the need to conduct market research. All too often, leaders in organizations go by their gut and operate based solely on what they think people want. This can be disastrous for non-profits that rely on donors to support their cause, volunteers to keep things running, and members to show interest.
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