9 Types of Survey Methods and How They Work - SurveySparrow (2023)

Different types of survey methods help provide different kinds of information or insights that you seek.

Perhaps you need to take an important strategic decision, and every informed decision needs data. Maybe you want to know what your customers think of your new products. Or, what do your employees feel about your workplace? Or even: who’s likely to win the next election?

You can’t gaze into a crystal ball for the answers. But you can choose from different types of survey methods.

What is a survey method?

In short, the survey method generally refers to the process used to gather data. It influences the exchange of ideas and information between the researcher and participants.

There are many ways to deploy surveys. To elaborate, surveys help us to shape the future with first-hand data from the present. But to successfully achieve your survey purpose, you must choose an apt survey method.

Choosing the right survey research method depends on your objective, timeline, budget, and sample. There are two broad categories of survey methods: qualitative and quantitative.

Let’s look at the different types of survey methods to help you choose the one right for you.

Types of Survey Methods

  • Online Survey Method
  • Face-to-Face Surveys
  • Focus Groups
  • Panel Sampling
  • Phone Survey
  • Mail Surveys
  • Kiosk Surveys
  • Paper Surveys
  • SMS Surveys

1. Online Survey Method

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For good reason, online surveys are among the most popular types of survey methods.

⭐️ Pros:

  1. First, they are accessible, economical, and easy to share at the click of a button.
  2. Second, they are fast – you can get responses within hours, if not minutes.
  3. Third, they come with extra features such as templates, images, skip logic, compulsory questions, or a minimum character count.

SurveySparrow offers you 700+ survey templates to create engaging surveys!

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(Video) SurveySparrow Overview (all the features)

Sign up here to create a similar online survey, plus loads of really cool features like response management, order forms, video surveys, and more for FREE!

An online survey software, like SurveySparrow, has real-time reporting and analysis since the responses are stored automatically. Moreover, people will answer sensitive questions honestly because you can set online surveys to ‘Anonymous’ mode or encrypt the fields with passcodes. Give it a try.

🚫 Cons:

  • There are certain sections of the population that can’t access the internet. Online surveys pose a challenge in such cases, but one can use offline surveys in those scenarios.
  • Online surveys don’t have an interviewer to clarify queries compared to face-to-face surveys. Here are 6 common mistakes in survey questionsthat you should avoid.

2. Chat Surveys

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Chat surveys are a newer survey method that allows respondents to answer questions through a chat interface. This type of survey is beneficial for businesses because it allows them to gather real-time feedback and can be used to generate leads or qualify potential customers.

Additionally, chat surveys are easy to use and can be tailored to fit the specific needs of your business. If you are looking for a way to gather feedback from your customers or leads, then a chat survey may be the perfect solution for you.

SurveySparrow lets you create stunning chat surveys with a chatbot in less than a minute. Try for FREE!

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2. Face-to-Face Surveys

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Face-to-face surveys require little effort on the part of the respondents as the interviewer meets them at a prearranged time and location. The interviewer works directly with the respondents while filling out the survey and clarifies their doubts.

⭐️ Pros:

  • Face-to-face surveys are apt for respondents who have low literacy.
  • In addition, it helps uncover deep insights by asking more open-ended questions. The interviewers can make sure that the respondents pay attention without getting distracted.
  • To ensure that no data goes ignored, the researcher records the interview.

🚫 Cons:

  • Face-to-face surveys can be long and time-consuming.
  • They are pricey due to travel expenses and the costs of hiring and training an interviewer.
  • Due to logistical limits, the survey is confined to a particular location.
  • The success of the survey relies heavily on the interviewer’s skills.
  • There is no anonymity. Hence respondents would be hesitant to answer questions of a sensitive nature.
  • Many studies have also pointed out interviewer bias. Interviewers may give verbal or non-verbal cues as to how they should respond. This bias might skew the overall results.
  • Researchers observed that participants often changed their responses or behavior in a third person’s presence. This is the Hawthorne effect – another unavoidable bias in face-to-face surveys.

Compared to other types of survey methods, face-to-face surveys offer profound insights and accuracy. But it is expensive and time-intensive.

3. Focus Groups

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Like the face-to-face survey, the focus group survey method is in-person. The only difference is that there is a group of people (around 6 to 10). The group is selected to represent the survey’s target population. Each person can share their feedback on a topic while a moderator leads the group. Their role is to control the flow of discussion and reduce bias.

⭐️ Pros:

  • This survey method is good for market research because it lets you uncover personal attitudes and perceptions.
  • Focus groups are increasingly becoming digital. There are no geographical restrictions – anyone can participate from anywhere.
  • Focus groups perfectly complement a quantitative survey method. A focus group study conducted right before surveying a larger population can reinforce insights.

🚫 Cons:

  • Selecting the apt participants takes time.
  • The participants should be aware of the research objectives and essential facts before the discussion.
  • It helps if you decide what questions the moderator should ask and prepare a script for the questions.
  • Certain participants may dominate the discussion. So the opinions expressed may not represent that of the population.
  • This survey method is also a bit cost-intensive. You may have to incentivize participants and moderators and bear their travel expenses.

4. Panel Sampling

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Panel sampling is when you choose people randomly from a target audience to be a part of a panel. This panel is then part of a study that requires them to take recurring surveys over a period.

For example, a longitudinal study where researchers can observe changes in customer perception and behavior over a period.

⭐️ Pros:

  • Organizations ranging from news media and government agencies to market research companies employ panel surveys. They roll out similar surveys to the target audience many times over various weeks and months.
  • Say, a survey at one point in time indicates that the X variable has the most impact on user behavior. But a panel survey, administered after a long duration, will prove otherwise. This change reflects the variable’s effect over time.

🚫 Cons:

  • This method may jeopardize data quality if the respondent is a member of two or more similar panels.
  • Respondents may decide to answer surveys based on the incentives they receive.

5. Phone Survey

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Almost everyone has a phone at home. That’s why phone surveys are incredibly convenient. It also allows anonymity in case of sensitive questions.

⭐️ Pros:

  • If the interviewer is skillful, it can also lend a personal touch which helps build a relationship.
  • In market research, CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing) has led to a faster way to handle and process data obtained from phone surveys.
  • Phone interviews are effortless since the survey displays on the computer screen, and the interviewer can easily record answers with a mouse and keyboard.

🚫 Cons:

  • Phone surveys are time-constrained and usually can’t go longer than 15 minutes.
  • Many people screen their calls to accept only select callers and may not attend calls from an unknown number.
  • Phone surveys can be mistaken as telemarketing calls and perceived negatively.

6. Mail Surveys

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(Video) Create Amazing Surveys Using SurveySparrow

Mail surveys are questionnaires distributed and delivered via postal service to a sample audience. Respondents then have to complete these surveys and return them via mail.

When drafting a mail survey, ensure that the study does not exceed one page. Also, include a cover letter with your enterprise letterhead and the purpose of this survey. In addition, it should include details like the survey deadline and the incentives on offer.

⭐️ Pros:

  • Mail surveys are straightforward and consist of a few open-ended questions.
  • Mail surveys may seem old-fashioned, but they also offer a sense of authenticity.

🚫 Cons:

  • While mail surveys are convenient for the respondent, it also requires their effort. Thus it has a high chance of being ignored, especially if the target respondents are busy professionals.
  • There is the cost of printing, envelopes, and postage.

7. Kiosk Surveys

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You might have seen product promotion kiosks at your local mall or self-service kiosks at your favorite restaurant. The latest kiosks also offer consumers the feature of taking surveys. Kiosk surveys aimto collect feedback immediately after interaction with the brand.

⭐️ Pros:

  • Kiosks within the establishment ensure that customers can casually take the survey with no pressure.
  • Kiosk surveys are also suitable for areas with spotty wifi because they don’t require a net connection.
  • Kiosk surveys can capture feedback immediately, especially when the in-store experience is fresh in the customers’ minds. This real-time feedback provides brands with a clear picture.

For example: Suppose a brand has five branches set up within the same city. Kiosk surveys offer the fantastic advantage of gaining responses from customers across multiple branches.

🚫 Cons:

  • Just about anyone can take these surveys. Even people who aren’t customers may end up taking the survey – especially if incentives are on offer.
  • Since kiosks are often a part of the in-store experience, customers may not notice a survey kiosk or ignore it.
  • In addition, if the kiosk faces technical issues, this may end up ruining the survey-taking experience.

8. Paper Surveys

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Many feel that paper surveys are a thing of the past. But paper surveys help to get responses from difficult-to-reach audiences.

⭐️ Pros:

  • Paper surveys, in conjunction with online surveys, can boost response rates.
  • Moreover, a paper survey is the best alternative when the respondent cannot access its online version.
  • Moreover, not everyone is tech-savvy enough to be at ease with online surveys. For an audience like this, paper surveys are a more effective tool.

For example:Senior citizens may prefer a paper-based survey. So they are printed on a white background and in easy-to-read large fonts.

🚫 Cons:

  • With its printing costs, the paper surveys method is expensive.
  • Paper surveys are not environmentally friendly.
  • Unlike online surveys, paper surveys lack an extra layer of data security like password authentication.

9. SMS Surveys

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SMS surveys let you gather user feedback through text messages. When you send an SMS, users can either text a shortcode to access the survey or click on the survey link through their phones.

⭐️ Pros:

  • This survey method is ideal for collecting feedback on recent events.
  • SMS surveys have a high opening rate of 98% compared to emails at just 22%.

However, it’s necessary to have permission from the users to send them the surveys. Ensure that the messages are short, and make the responses quantifiable rather than ask for qualitative feedback.

For example:You can measure the NPS for a particular interaction right after it happens.

(Video) Best Survey Platform: Typeform vs SurveySparrow

🚫 Cons:

  • There’s limited space for elaboration in a text message. This makes SMS surveys unsuitable for studies that need an introduction or context for better answers.
  • These types of survey methods can be costly depending on the carrier charges.

How to choose the apt survey method

There are varied types of survey methods in research. You can choose one or a mix of many. Here are some of the factors to keep in mind while choosing your survey research methods:

  • Target population: If your target population can be enumerated, then you can easily pick a sample from the list of names you have at hand. Online or phone surveys are not used for populations that are difficult to enumerate or list. If your target population is illiterate, it is advisable to do a face-to-face survey.
  • Sample size:If your sample is small, it’s easier to carry out face-to-face surveys. On the other hand, you may need to deploy online surveys to guarantee higher response rates for a larger sample.
  • Duration of research: If your study lasts longer, especially if the same sample takes the surveys, a panel survey would be apt. Other types of survey methods are sufficient for collecting data at a single point in time.
  • Facility and infrastructure: Ensure that you have the infrastructure required for your survey. In phone surveys, you would require phone surveying facilities. For conducting focus groups, you would need a comfortable room and equipment to record responses.
  • Costs incurred:Face-to-face surveys are expensive since there is a high cost of training and hiring interviewers. The same goes for mail surveys and associated postage.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective survey tool, give SurveySparrow a try. From classic online surveys to chat, SMS, and even QR codes, you can access more ways to share your survey for free.

14-Day Free Trial • No Credit Card Required • No Strings Attached

Wrapping Up

Surveys are a systematic form of collecting primary, raw data from your target audience. It is one of the most effective ways to conduct research.

In this article, we discussed the numerous survey methods and how to choose the one most apt for you. Each one has its pros and cons. Ultimately, the survey method you select will depend upon numerous factors such as cost, response rates needed, target audience, and duration of research. Choose wisely!

9 Types of Survey Methods and How They Work - SurveySparrow (12)

Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

(Video) Survey Sparrow Review | Best Survey Software | Survey Sparrow Review & Bonus


What are the 7 types of surveys? ›

The Most Common Types of Surveys
  • Online Surveys. Online surveys are one of the most popular types of surveys and for good reason. ...
  • Paper Surveys. ...
  • Mail Surveys. ...
  • Telephone Surveys. ...
  • In-Person Surveys. ...
  • Panel Surveys. ...
  • Focus Group Surveys.
Apr 27, 2022

What is survey method answer? ›

The survey method is the practice of gathering data for a study by asking people questions related to your research. Typically, researchers survey people who have particular knowledge, insights or experiences related to the study.

How many types of surveys are there in research? ›

Exploratory, descriptive, and causal are the three main types used in survey research.

What are the 12 steps in the survey process? ›

12 Steps For A Successful Survey
  1. Investigate past survey experience. ...
  2. Clarify the purpose. ...
  3. Consult and involve stakeholders. ...
  4. Communicate widely and frequently. ...
  5. Make the survey easy to access and complete. ...
  6. Create a buzz. ...
  7. Feedback results as soon as possible. ...
  8. Ask questions to better understand issues.

What are the 6 main types of survey question? ›

6 main types of survey questions
  • Open-ended questions.
  • Closed-ended questions.
  • Nominal questions.
  • Likert scale questions.
  • Rating scale (or ordinal) questions.
  • 'Yes' or 'no' questions.
Aug 17, 2022

Which survey method is best and why? ›

In-person interviews are by far the most personable approach and can create trust and cooperation from respondents. The best interviewers will be able to read non-verbal cues to better direct the interview. It is also the best way to perform interviews that may involve sensitive topics.

What are the steps of survey method? ›

  1. Step 1: Define the population and sample. ...
  2. Step 2: Decide on the type of survey. ...
  3. Step 3: Design the survey questions. ...
  4. Step 4: Distribute the survey and collect responses. ...
  5. Step 5: Analyze the survey results. ...
  6. Step 6: Write up the survey results.
Aug 20, 2019

What are the main 4 types of survey questionnaires? ›

While there isn't an official book of survey questions or survey taxonomy, I find it helpful to break down survey questions into four classes: open-ended, closed-ended (static), closed-ended (dynamic), and task-based.

What are the 7 steps to conduct a survey? ›

7 Steps When Conducting Survey Research - A Beginner-Friendly Guide
  1. Identify your research goals and objectives. ...
  2. Define the population and sample - Who will participate in the survey? ...
  3. Decide on the type of survey method you will use. ...
  4. Design the questions. ...
  5. Distribute the survey and gather responses.
May 17, 2022

When constructing a questionnaire There are 9 steps to which you should adhere? ›

There are at least nine distinct steps: decide on the information required; define the target respondents, select the method(s) of reaching the respondents; determine question content; word the questions; sequence the questions; check questionnaire length; pre-test the questionnaire and develop the final questionnaire.

What are the 8 parts of survey report? ›

The features of a survey report include; a title page, table of contents, executive summary, background and objectives, methodology, results, conclusion and recommendations, and appendices.

What are the 10 steps on creating online survey form? ›

We're here to help you build the best surveys possible.
  1. A short survey is better than a long one. ...
  2. Questions must be easy to understand and answer. ...
  3. Group questions according to topic. ...
  4. Place sensitive questions at the end. ...
  5. Avoid irrelevant questions. ...
  6. Reassure your respondents that their data is secure. ...
  7. Spend time on your design.

What is the 10th step of the 12 Steps? ›

These daily practices are the subject of Step 10 of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous: "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it." Here the word "inventory" means taking stock of our emotional disturbances, especially those that can return us to drinking or other drug use.

What is a 5 point survey? ›

A 5-point Likert scale is a psychometric response method where respondents can easily answer questions and state their level of agreement in five points. The 5-point Likert scale consists of the below points – (1) Strongly Disagree; (2) Disagree; (3) Neither Agree nor Disagree; (4) Agree; (5) Strongly Agree.

What are the 10 steps in developing a questionnaire quizlet? ›

  • Specify what info will be sought.
  • determine method of administration.
  • determine content of individual questions.
  • determine form of response to each question.
  • determine wording of each question.
  • determine question sequence.
  • determine physical characteristics of questionnaire.

What are the 6 steps involved in the development of a questionnaire? ›

Six steps to good questionnaire design
  • #1: Identify your research aims and the goal of your questionnaire. ...
  • #2: Define your target respondents. ...
  • #3: Develop questions. ...
  • #4: Choose your question type. ...
  • #5: Design question sequence and overall layout. ...
  • #6: Run a pilot.
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What are the 5 steps in conducting survey? ›

  • Step One: Determine Your Sample Group. ‍When conducting a general survey, it is important to survey a group of individuals that will give you the most accurate, unbiased results. ...
  • Step Two: Create Your Questions. ...
  • Step Three: Test. ...
  • Step Four: Get it Out. ...
  • Step Five: Analyze Your Data.

What is a 4 point survey? ›

Basically, a 4 point Likert scale is a forced scale, which essentially means forcing a respondent to form an opinion, either way. Market researchers use 4 points Likert scale when a user's opinion is essential without being neutral on a specific topic, such as: Satisfied. Very Satisfied. Dissatisfied.

What are the different types of surveys Class 8? ›

There were many other surveys – botanical surveys, zoological surveys, archaeological surveys, anthropological surveys, forest surveys.

What is a survey class 8? ›

Solution: Survey means to study or investigate important facts and figures regarding a particular subject, topic or country for acquiring additional and specific information for further study or investigation.

What is the best way to answer a question? ›

How to respond to questions effectively
  1. Prepare for tough questions. ...
  2. Pause before responding. ...
  3. Monitor your body language. ...
  4. Reword the question. ...
  5. Take more time if you need to. ...
  6. Acknowledge the other person's emotions. ...
  7. Answer a portion of the question. ...
  8. Ask questions about the question.
Mar 15, 2021

How can I do a simple survey? ›

Visit https://surveys.google.com/your-surveys.
  1. Click + NEW SURVEY.
  2. In step 1 (Write questions), select the appropriate question type(s) and write your question(s). ...
  3. In step 2 (Pick audience), name your survey and select your target audience. ...
  4. In step 3 (Confirm survey), review your survey questions and purchase responses.

What is the best survey technique? ›

Simple random sampling is the purest type of probability sampling. With this method, individuals are chosen randomly, giving each member of the population an equal chance of being selected as the subject.

What is the main method used in survey research? ›

Survey research may use a variety of data collection methods with the most common being questionnaires and interviews. Questionnaires may be self-administered or administered by a professional, may be administered individually or in a group, and typically include a series of items reflecting the research aims.

What is the best survey? ›

Top 10 Survey Software
  • Qualtrics CoreXM.
  • SurveyMonkey.
  • Google Workspace.
  • Jotform.
  • Zoho Survey.
  • QuestionPro.
  • Google Surveys.
  • Typeform.

What are the five types of surveys? ›

Guide to the Five Types of Survey Questions
  • Open-Ended Questions.
  • Multiple Choice Questions.
  • Ordinal Scale Questions.
  • Interval Scale Questions.
  • Ratio Scale Questions.
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What are the six types of survey? ›

6 Different types of survey questions you should use
  • Closed-ended questions. ...
  • Open-ended questions. ...
  • Multiple choice survey questions. ...
  • Rating survey questions. ...
  • Likert scale survey questions. ...
  • Drop-down survey questions.

What are 2 main types of survey? ›

Surveys can be divided into two broad categories: the questionnaire and the interview. Questionnaires are usually paper-and-pencil instruments that the respondent completes. Interviews are completed by the interviewer based on the respondent says.

What are the 7 steps to creating a good survey? ›

7 Steps to Create a Community Feedback Survey
  1. Set your objectives.
  2. Write your survey questions (the right way)
  3. Test internally and then on a pilot group.
  4. Deploy the survey to members.
  5. Collect responses.
  6. Analyze the responses.
  7. Act on the results.
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What is the 5 essential survey? ›

5Essentials is an evidence-based system designed to drive improvement in schools nationwide—it reliably measures changes in a school organization through the 5Essentials Survey and provides individualized, actionable Reports for each school.

What is a survey method in research? ›

Survey research is defined as "the collection of information from a sample of individuals through their responses to questions" (Check & Schutt, 2012, p. 160). This type of research allows for a variety of methods to recruit participants, collect data, and utilize various methods of instrumentation.

What are the 6 steps in the survey process? ›

To conduct an effective survey, follow these six steps:
  1. Determine who will participate in the survey.
  2. Decide the type of survey (mail, online, or in-person)
  3. Design the survey questions and layout.
  4. Distribute the survey.
  5. Analyze the responses.
  6. Write up the results.
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