Nowadays, taking a data-driven approach is essential for bringing enterprises closer to their customers and increasing their sales. Whether small or big, the root of a business’ success always comes from understanding its customers. Conducting online research to collect feedback on products or to understand the market is one way to gain customer insights and be data-driven.
When discussing surveys or marketing research, people are often familiar with traditional methods such as interviews or paper surveys. However, now that we are in a data-driven era, might online research be more popular? The answer is yes. It is reported that more and more people are registering as panelists (online survey respondents) to answer paid online surveys. For instance, in Singapore, more than 390,000 people have signed up as panelists, and in Vietnam, the number is more than 890,000 (Cint, 2020).
With this explosive growth in online panelists, we will lead you through the most basic concepts behind online surveys, and also share how they can benefit your business.
Table of Contents
- What is Online Research?
- Research methodology
- Online Research Flow
- Online Research Merits and Demerits
- The power of SynoTool and SynoAnswers for Making Data-Driven Decisions
What is Online Research?
Many may not realize that people do online research nearly every day. This research might be conducted on a small scale—such as comparing the price of a product on different e-commerce platforms or reading reviews from other consumers about a product that they wish to buy. At an enterprise or big business level, online research is often done through forms with a set of designed questions and answer options—with the whole process of filling out the form being done online. Companies or enterprises send out these questionnaires to get ideas and feedback from target consumers. In return, the panelists who participate in answering online surveys can get incentives or rewards such as discount vouchers.
Taking advantage of the worldwide connections generated via the internet, online surveys can be deployed in multiple languages and in many countries at the same time, all from the click of a mouse. This online deployment can cover many different parts of the world easily, thus greatly decreasing the effort and cost required when compared to traditional research methods.
According to a study on the principles of survey methodology by UCLA (2014), research methodology is defined as the study of survey methods along with ways to maintain validity and boost the response rate while carrying out research.
Most online research is implemented using qualitative methods. An ideal qualitative survey consists of a number of questions in different styles, such as single answer, multiple answer, or matrix questions, to name but a few. Furthermore, there might also be some free answer questions, which require the panelists to give their thoughts on the topic.
In order to minimize errors, professionals need to create a coherent and logical flow or structure for the research, making sure that unexpected blunders within the questionnaire don’t happen.
Targeting the correct audience group is one of the keys to assuring a high engagement rate between panelists and the online survey. Furthermore, the invitation or introduction to the survey needs to be transparent. This gives the panelists a clear understanding of the topic and minimizes surprises while taking the survey—thus lowering the drop-out rate.
Online Research Flow
Basically, there are 5 stages to an ideal online research flow.
First, it is important to understand the core issue, the market, and the industry to identify your objectives behind the research. The purpose needs to be explicit, so as to avoid getting off track.
After deciding on the concept and the background of the research, you start with the questionnaire design. An ideal questionnaire takes the issues that a researcher wants to explore and converts them into questions and answer options, all with a complete, logical structure. The coherence between the questions and the logic flow is crucial because it helps reduce errors and inconsistencies in the data. After designing the questionnaire, the final version is programmed as an online survey. Simple-structured surveys can be done using free platforms such as Google Forms; however, surveys with detailed or rigorous logic types must be programmed using more professional-oriented platforms such as SynoTool.
Now, you might ask yourself, “how do I get my questionnaire to the correct audience?” This is where panelist marketplaces come in. Having within their database a large number of respondents, these marketplaces distribute surveys to panelists across the globe. One benefit to them is that several profiling targets can be chosen, with only a selected number of panelists invited to participate. These panelists can then easily access the survey and give their opinions with a simple click.
The next step is data analysis. In this stage, any acquired data is scrutinized carefully to make sure that there is no flaw in the logic or consistency of the data. Even spelling and meaning checks are done for free answer questions.
Finally, after the data file is cleaned—whereby bad or invalidated responses are removed—an in-depth report can be given out as required to the survey holder.
Online Research Merits and Demerits
Compared with the traditional way of conducting research, online methods win in some key areas, such as:
- Less time-consuming and cheaper: An online survey can be conducted in as many languages and countries as required, and all can be done at the same time. Using traditional methods, you would need a large number of researchers in each country to do the survey. However, with an online survey, you need just one project manager. Accordingly, the costs can be reduced significantly.
- Accurate and easy: Nowadays, with a computer, smartphone, or tablet, anyone can participate in an online survey. Since panelists only have to click or tap the screen to select their answers, the margin of error is also reduced.
- Quick analysis: Since all data is input online, the data analysis process can be finished easily and quickly.
- Timely: Thanks to short amount of time spent during data analysis process, data-driven decisions can be made in a timely way, allowing for your business to change to meet consumer needs quickly.
- Good for brand marketing: While the online survey is being conducted, there might be hundreds or thousands of people searching for the brand or company conducting the study. This is a great opportunity to promote your brand and get recognition from target consumer groups.
That said, there are still some difficulties when doing online research, notably the need to re-contact respondents to ask for clarification. This is especially the case in long term or monthly scheduled online studies, where it sometimes happens that the project manager cannot contact a panelists who participated in a previous month’s project for participation in the current month’s project—which can lead to the inconsistencies in the data. Another situation is when the project manager cannot ask a panelist to give a more detailed explanation, something that might be if the project is done in traditional way.
The Power of SynoTool and SynoAnswers for Making Data-Driven Decisions
After reading this article, you might wonder which tool is best to program or create an online survey. While you might find an assortment of tools online, we’d like to recommend our own.
Here at Syno International, we provide one of the most professional tools for online surveys. With SynoTool, you can program a diverse range of question, as well as add sophisticated logic and conditions settings. If it is too hard, we have international support teams you can contact to solve the problem. SynoTool also comes with a creative data analysis report system that helps you to manage the project progress and visualize the final data—leading you to better data-driven decisions.
On the other hand, if you would prefer to have our well-trained team take care of your international research, SynoAnswers is your choice. SynoAnswers is a low-cost that allows you to conduct national census-weighted surveys in countries around the world. We do this by combining the questions from multiple clients into one “omnibus” survey of optimal length—taking care of everything from translation to survey distribution and reporting. In each country, 1,000 targeted panelists are contacted to take part, with surveys scheduled every other week.
If you’d like to learn more about SynoTool, SynoAnswers, or any of the products or services we offer, please feel free to contact us.