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Online Consumer Survey: What It Can Do For You

The online consumer survey has become a very popular tool for marketers. A rapidly growing internet population has opened the floodgates, giving easy access to target samples that researchers could never have dreamt of reaching in the earlier days.



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Each one of us remembers the harrowing experience of being accosted by an overenthusiastic researcher seeking our opinion about myriad issues – do we like the latest mouthwash to hit the shelves, how likely are we to recommend so and so airline or what do we think about the new services offered by our old bank. They say that the more things change, the more they remain they same! In today’s wired environment, the hapless researcher is replaced by an anonymous, unseen but all seeing online questioner, waving not pen and paper, but mailing online questionnaires to where else but our electronic mailboxes! But what if the shoe is on the other foot and you as a business owner would like to conduct an online consumer survey? Wouldn’t you like to know if it’s worth your while?

The online consumer survey has become a very popular tool for marketers. A rapidly growing internet population has opened the floodgates, giving easy access to target samples that researchers could never have dreamt of reaching in the earlier days. The internet has also spawned a community culture, bringing together like minded people separated by geographies and time zones, and this is what an online consumer survey tries to leverage. Message boards, chat rooms, virtual clubs – these are the new playgrounds of the market researcher.

So, does this mark the end of the good old face to face interview? Can we let out a cheer in anticipation of being rid of those telephone surveys? We think it’s probably too early to pop the champagne. While it does have several benefits, the online consumer survey is not a flawless tool. Here’s the lowdown.

Gain access: Think of anything, and there’s probably an internet group for it. So, if you’re looking to put together a sample of respondents to research some erudite topic, just log on. You’ll be able to reach out to a diverse, yet targeted segment.

Save time: This is stating the obvious. How else can you reach such a large group in the time it takes to click that mouse? Mailing out an online consumer survey also allows the researcher to use that time to do other things.

Save effort: You can choose between a number of software packages that take care of everything, from designing the questionnaire to analyzing responses.

Save Cost: Think of the costs that you can do without – administrative, manpower, stationery, travel, communication… An online consumer survey is almost always economical, even if you choose to opt for a high end software solution.

But before you call off any face to face focus group you’ve lined up, remember that the online consumer survey has its share of drawbacks. Since the respondents are virtually anonymous, you have no way of knowing if they have falsified any information, or how much. An experienced researcher is able to moderate certain reactions during the course of a personal interview, or seek clarifications, but no such facility is available on an online consumer survey. Again, opinions vary on whether such surveys enjoy a higher response rate versus direct mail or telephonic interviews.

Sometimes you could also have trouble reaching the respondent community, as group administrators might filter out your research request altogether.

Having said that, the online consumer survey is here to stay!

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