web-based surveys and their usefulness in reducing the cost of business research. The writer explores several aspects of web-based surveys including performance and comparison to traditional type surveys. There were 10 sources used to complete this paper.
There are many reasons that people gather information today. Health professionals gather information to help determine health trends, needs and problems. Marketing professionals gather information so that the consumer can be better served. Churches gather information to better provide for the spiritual needs of the public. Law enforcement officials gather information to ascertain crime trends as well as other information that is useful for predictions and budgeting needs. Different sized governments gather information for the purpose of providing public services to those who live within their geographic area as well as estimations and predictions about the future of the area. There are many reasons to gather information and there are very few instances in which the gathering of information would serve no purpose to those with the results.
Information gathering comes in many different forms. There are benefits and problems with each type of information gathering. Using a test group can be beneficial but is often costly and limited in its scope of use and consequence. One of the most common and popular types of information gathering tools is the use of a survey. Surveys can provide a wide range of information that can be used to understand the past, predict the future and decide what changes, if any, should be made. Surveys are popular for many reasons and are successful in their purpose. The technological explosion of the last few decades provided the world with a much wider frame of reference for gathering information. The Internet allows those who want to gather information to do so in electronic format. Web-based surveys are useful for several reasons including speed of responses, range of participants and the ability to have a more complicated format from which to gather the information. While web -based surveys are becoming popular there are concerns that they have flaws a traditional pen and paper or in person survey may not have. Web-based surveys can be the most advanced and useful survey method there is as long as the precautions are taken that ate taken with any information gathering study. One of the most explosive uses of web-based surveys today is in the business sector. Web-based surveys are gaining popularity in the business world for several reasons. One of the discoveries of the web-based surveys is that the cost is less than other types of traditional surveys. Web-based surveys can be useful because it reduces the cost of business research while increasing the ability to conduct more complicated and multi-level; multi-step research.
Before one can begin to understand the concept and advantages of web-based survey methods it is important to understand surveys in general. Surveys are used to gather information for the purpose of understanding trends, deciding the future and examining results. Surveys can be extremely complicated and involved or very simple and plain. Surveys are conducted in several different manners including the in person survey, the telephone survey, the pen and paper survey, and the online web-based survey. Surveys contain questions that are answered by the participants. The questions can range from simple affirmative or negative answers to extremely complicated and multi-step questions. If one were to search for a non-survey example of the way surveys work a ballot would provide the groundwork of understanding. Surveys can be one question or thousands of questions depending on the information needed and the willingness of participants to answer the questions that are asked. Surveys can provide businesses with much needed information that can guide them in future marketing and production decisions as well as trends for the future that they might want to plan for. There are many benefits in the business world to using the survey method of research and with the new ability to use web-based surveys for the job.
THE COST OF RESEARCH THROUGH SURVEYS
Business world wide need to gather information to succeed. Whether it is as simple as asking customers if they are happy with the service and product they received, or an extensive large scale research study to determine future trends and directions for the company. Conducting business research can be costly through the survey method. If the business chooses to conduct in person interviews, such as product testing and sampling, or in person discussion and questionnaires there have to be people hired to conduct the research. This can mean paying for time as well as benefits. In the event there are not enough employees to use them or the company does not want to utilize the employees in that manner temporaries must be hired which can become quite costly. (Polling, 1998) There have been several studies done on how to decrease the cost of business research and still gather the valuable information that the company needs for decision making purposes. There are many things that can be done to reduce the cost of survey information gathering including shorter questionnaires, finding a partner to share the costs and buying into a poll already being conducted. While these methods are good they also create limitations on the poll and survey questions either by dependency on someone else's questions or limits to the questions in the effort to cut costs with survey size reductions. (McCullough, 1998)
Web-based research can be a useful and cost effective tool for the purpose of business research and information gathering. Web-based surveys are useful, inexpensive and reliable as long as the business knows what it wants to accomplish when the research survey is conducted. There are several steps that are important to follow in the quest to gather information via the internet for the purpose of business research. They include:
Understand clearly what questions you want answered
Know who you want to talk to Write a questionnaire and put it on the web
Build traffic to that questionnaire
Analyze the data it is important when putting together a web-based business research study that the desired information is clear to the company conducting the research. The simple question, "What is it that we want to know" is often overlooked by many fortune 500 companies. The business that is going to conduct the research needs to take its time and define its true baseline objectives about what it is that it wants to know. Going over the questions many times until the business is sure that they have sifted through the fluff and been left with the clear cut bottm line questions in important in web-based surveys. "Don't try to trick the system by making broad, general questions like "what should I do to increase profits?" I' m talking about specific, measurable questions like "Do my customers prefer to pay $5 for a product with feature x or $10 for a product with feature y?" Specific, measurable and useful. "
Web surveys are similar to traditional surveys in that they ask questions and compile answers for result-oriented decision-making. One of the most important aspects of web-based surveys that is not possible in traditional methods is the way the survey is marketed. The web-based survey has many possible markets. One can decide to draw people to their site based solely on them stumbling across it. One can decide to place banner ads on certain types of web pages to try and gather information from a select audience and one can try to hit various populations through chats and message boards. Whatever method is chosen for gathering participants there are several ways to reach them and let them know they are invited to participate in the survey.
Some of the ideas that can draw web-based survey participants include:
Banner ads on web sites
In the same way that one can buy mailing lists one can also buy email address lists. This is a method that can save time because it provides many people to contact but it can also be a problem because some people do not like to receive junk mail in their email in box and may object or refuse to participate in the survey. (SurveyMonkey 2002)Just as there are traditional survey companies that will handle the survey methods and results for a business for a fee there are now web-based survey companies that will design and promote the survey for the business online and compile the results for the company.
COMPARING THE WEB TO TRADITION comparison of web-based surveys to traditional surveys is important if one wants to understand the differences in results, success and cost to their particular need. (Wells, 2002)Web-based surveys can be cost effective and even reduce the costs of business research in many instances. It is a method that saves on postage as well as possible survey takers depending on the survey style and type that is being used. The design of the survey itself is a one time charge…