Using Online Surveys

The study I found utilizing online survey research was The Impact of Perceived Channel Utilities, Shopping Orientations, and Demographics on the Consumer’s Online Buying Behavior in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. The study looked at the consumer learning curve for making online purchases as well as the consumer’s demographics- age, education, income etc. It sought to determine what factors made some people prone to purchasing things online. The study was conducted on a private website via online survey. While I do think this method is somewhat appropriate given the topic, I wonder if the findings were skewed toward people who already use the internet frequently. If someone is likely to take a survey online, wouldn’t they also be more likely to shop online? Even in the few surveys I have conducted, I know the importance of getting a good population sample. For the same reason, I’m not convinced that online surveys are always the best option since they leave out people who may not have a computer or access to the internet. I have used both Survey Monkey and Qualtrics when I was an undergrad at UF. I can attest to the price and convenience factors of these two programs, some great perks. However, and maybe this was just because of the way we handled it, I’m not sure our research had the best population sample. It was predominately just emailed out to friends, posted on Facebook etc. So, the people it reached, we already had a connection with. This would be a similar problem if you posted it on a business website, a person would already have to be using the website to access the survey. Has anyone done it a different way that produced better results?

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7 Responses to Using Online Surveys

  1. alanyskpl says:

    I had the same type of question Emily! I also wonder what are some other tactics that can be used to gather more unbiased participants for an online survey. I agree with your view that people who take online surveys most likely are already frequently online. This limits the participants to those who normally access a certain website or the internet. In order to gain participants we do not have connections with, perhaps use survey websites that pay people to take surveys? I know I have seen those companies before, but I have never used any. However, the people who take those surveys would be random so it would be hard to gather data needed for a specific age group or gender.

    • Emily Davis says:

      Glad you agree, Linda! I did do a little bit of reading about companies that pay people to take surveys when I was preparing for my presentation this week. It said the drawback to this is that the people get very accustomed to taking surveys and so that changes their answers. There really is no perfect solution!

  2. I think that that’s the big problem with the internet: with so many avenues to look, the people who end up on your site probably intended to be there, so the survey seems slanted. It’s not like there’s a way to get a fair representation of the entire internets. And given geographical issues involved, you can’t really pass out a survey in a neighborhood.

    • Emily Davis says:

      Yeah, based on everything I was reading, it seems like there is never a totally perfect solution. Every survey type and sample type is going to come with it’s own issues, you just have to weigh the pros and cons for your use.

  3. naseemspeaks says:

    This is a very valid questions. When distributing surveys, especially during my college days, I relied on my friends and family for input. However, just how accurate is this sampling? Not very–at all. I think a better approach is perhaps put the link online–maybe your blog or website and allow random people to take part. Of course there is no way of ensuring you’ll get enough people, however. I suppose the other alternative, which will cost money, is to give it to a professional organization that can conduct the survey on a mass scale. So basically–you can either do it on your own and get skewed results or pay someone to do it properly and hope the results are not skewed. Both ways seem a bit unreliable!

    • Emily Davis says:

      Agreed! I think know matter what, it is going to be skewed a little bit. If it goes out through a company, the people they send it to are probably overly-accustomed to taking surveys. If you are surveying your current customers on your website, then you aren’t reaching the ones that don’t purchase from you. You lose a little bit with every type 🙂

  4. This was a great discussion – the fact that the survey was on it’s own site, I agree, makes it better but online surveys do raise a question of whether they’re skewed or not. I know that i spend almost ALL of my time on my phone and laptop so I’m a common online shopper but someone like my Mom who is a English teacher and often only on the computer in her spare time or for grading doesn’t really browse the internet shopping scene much. I think the survey would have to understand it audience and possibly combine results from a separate outlet to receive the best results.

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