Survey Research: What Is It, and When Should It Be Used?


As one of the most commonly used tools in research, surveys allow researchers to collect a diverse amount data and information quickly, easily, and for pretty cheap. Researchers create surveys to present a set of predetermined questions to a group, or sample, of research subjects, and, using surveys, researchers can gather a large number of responses to efficiently learn general insights, as well as important details on a specific demographic, potentially in preparation for a larger, more in-depth study.

So, what is survey research, and how can it best be used?

What is survey research?

Most people have taken a survey at some point in their life, which is why filling out and understanding surveys may seem like a relatively simple ask. However, different than completing a survey and giving answers, conducting good survey research requires thorough preparation and an organized commitment to detail. Designing a survey people actually want to fill out takes another type of focus on planning – not to mention usually multiple rounds of revision.

Surveys are a qualitative research method used by researchers in a wide range of fields. Information collected from this approach is especially useful for researchers aiming to learn more about a certain population or demographics. Question-based surveys used in preparation for an in-depth study can further help researchers obtain preliminary data about specific individuals or locations.

Effective and engaging already, compared to other methods of data collection, survey research is also often considered the best option when it comes to answering specific types of research questions. However, conducting survey research for different fields requires different lenses, and, to be most effective, the design and tone of questions should be specifically aimed at specific industries. For instance, a researcher writing questions for a political activism survey would structure questions differently than they would writing questions for a customer loyalty survey.

How to use survey research

When survey research is conducted incorrectly, it wastes both time and money. Thus, it’s always ideal for surveys to be constructed in a way that provides researchers with high-quality information about the opinions or behaviors of the target demographic the first time.

Information obtained from survey research can serve as a valuable data source for companies and can even help to categorize a company as an expert in their field. What’s more, survey research is a great tool for collecting information used to improve a company’s approach to customer service or highlighting areas of improvement in product development.

Identify your target audience

The first step to gathering high-quality data is identifying your target audience. Identifying your target audience requires research and planning prior to constructing research questions. Trying to market a product or service to the wrong demographic or asking the wrong questions will result in unusable data and wasted time.

If you’re not sure how to identify the right audience, try constructing research questions to find the answers you need. Another resourceful approach might be to look at similar surveys and previous related research to identify a suitable audience.

Choose a survey provider

After identifying the right audience, start looking for a reputable survey maker. Companies, like Survey King, provide an easy-to-use platform for market research, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction. Standing above the competition, Survey King also offers professionally made templates, responsive layouts, and unlimited email and SMS campaigns to ensure your survey is accessed and completed by as many recipients as possible.

Ultimately, choosing a survey provider depends on the type of research you plan to accomplish and your budget, but the right survey provider will be able to tailor your survey in order to obtain the results you want at an affordable price.

Conduct the survey

Regardless of the type of survey you plan to conduct, it’s important to keep in mind that – data shows – shorter surveys yield more substantive results. Make sure to include every possible choice to each question in order to obtain the most detailed responses.

Creating context that generates interest and motivation to support the survey is also necessary. To this point, plan ahead: build a list of target publications where you want your results to be published. Turning your data into a chart or infographic to make the results easier to read will entice publications, likely making them more likely to use your data is another productive planning option.

To top it all off, obtaining high-quality results from survey research can drive more traffic to your website and build the credibility of your company, which translates into a bigger bottom line for businesses. All in all, survey research is a great tool for gaining important insights about a company’s PR, as well as the opinions and behaviors of a specific demographic.