When conducting research, we always run into the dilemma of using either surveys or questionnaires. The problem is that they both feel like they function quite the same.
But, are there any real differences between a survey and a questionnaire? What is the main difference between survey and questionaire? Or can we simply keep using both the terms interchangeably?
Turns out, there are several differences between surveys and questionnaires. And if monitored closely, the differences’ implications turn both into incredibly powerful research tools.
In this survey vs questionnaire guide, we are going to understand how surveys and questionnaires differ from each other. Let’s get started.
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What is a questionnaire?
In layman’s terms, a questionnaire is basically a set or series of questions. But, how can we define it?
A questionnaire is a well-researched and insightful set of questions that unravel the quantitative and qualitative aspects of a subject.
Moreover, the set of questions or questionnaires can be coupled with any part of the marketing channel to seek quantitative and qualitative feedback.
To simplify things, one can use questionnaires to gather information from a defined target audience and use the information as a part of the overall survey.
Also, a questionnaire can be sent offline after printing out the set of questions or can be pushed online as well.
Example of a questionnaire
As we have successfully defined questionnaires, let’s discuss an example to strengthen our understanding of this powerful research project tool.
Questionnaires can be delivered to any defined target audience.
The idea behind sending questionnaires is to seek honest answers and opinions and generate a better understanding of the subject from the audience’s perspective.
For example, here’s a questionnaire that a school authority can send to its students, especially the ones that have recently joined —
In this example, you can see how the questionnaire touches different areas surrounding the same subject “first day at school.”
In other words, a questionnaire has the power to touch different areas of the subject and produce an all-around understanding of the same.
What are the types of questionnaires?
Here are some crucial types of questionnaires that you should know and use for research that we’ve sourced from Examples.com.
1. Pictorial questionnaires
Pictorial questionnaires, as the name suggests, are questionnaires that not only contain questions but are also complemented by images.
The pictures used in the questionnaires can either be to improve the audience’s understanding of the questions or for branding and advertising.
Pictures in the questionnaire can make the questionnaires more interactive, leading to a higher completion rate.
2. Quantitative data questionnaires
Questionnaires can also be framed in a way to gain a specific answer or quantitative data. These are commonly referred to as quantitative questionnaires.
Such questionnaires are prepared using a set of closed-ended questions and are served with predefined answer options to generate statistical data.
Generally, a quantitative questionnaire uses the Likert Scale to effectively collect quantitative data.
3. Demographic questionnaires
Another important type of questionnaire you should know is a demographic questionnaire. In this, the set of questions is prepared to seek information about the demographic of the target audience.
In other words, one can collect information related to age, gender, religion, ethnicity, income, education, and more through demographic questionnaires.
4. Psychographic questionnaires
While the above two types of questionnaires cater to the quantitative aspect of the research, psychographic questionnaires are all about collecting “soft” data about the target audience.
The questionnaires are prepared with care to ensure feedback related to the audience’s preferences, personalities, reservations, values, morals, and more. These help build a complete and useful persona.
5. Qualitative data questionnaires
Lastly, we have qualitative questionnaires that collect qualitative data. These are generally open-ended questions put together to seek honest views and opinions from the target audience.
The respondents in such research are open to sharing feedback in their own words. With qualitative questionnaires, you can effectively collect contextual feedback and build an all-around research.
What is a survey?
A survey is a highly powerful research tool that allows one to solicit in-depth responses, and collect target audience-specific data that can be used effectively for analysis. A survey is generally more complex than a questionnaire as it involves statistical analysis.
Researchers using surveys usually collect the responses for further evaluations and to generate conclusions.
The responses or data types collected using surveys are qualitative data, quantitative data, nominal data, ordinal data, discrete data, and continuous data.
The major factors considered when drafting surveys are design, type of sampling, data collection methods, and data analysis methods.
Example of a survey and survey respondents
Although we have shared the different types of surveys that will provide you with a better understanding of this research tool, discussing an example will hurt nobody.
Let’s say we want to measure customers’ experience and satisfaction levels with a newly launched feature of a product they have been using.
To collect meaningful responses, you will have to come up with insightful questions so that the respondents can rate the feature’s pros and cons, effectiveness, performance, and overall usefulness.
Since the responses will differ from one respondent to another, we will have to involve data visualization techniques to generate a more precise and clear understanding of the survey results.
What are the types of surveys?
Let’s discuss the different types of surveys that you can send to generate a clearer understanding of the subject, especially from the target audience’s perspective.
1. Net Promoter Score surveys
We have covered Net Promoter Score surveys in quite detail in some of our previous posts. Net Promoter Score or NPS surveys help companies figure out how likely customers are to recommend their products and services to their network.
It is gauged on a Likert Scale of 1 to 10, which helps find the number of promoters, detractors, and passives.
2. Customer Satisfaction surveys
Customer Satisfaction or CSAT surveys, as the name suggests, are the ones that help measure the overall customer experience with a product, service, or interaction.
Customer satisfaction surveys are generally sent with a five-point scale — ranking customer experience from zero to five.
3. Customer Effort Score surveys
Customer Effort Score surveys or CES surveys are another very important type of survey companies rely on during research.
In this, businesses try to understand how easily customers can achieve their objectives, especially when using their products and services.
CES online surveys are also applicable to customer support interactions in case you want to measure how easy it was for the customer to get a resolution.
4. System Usability Scale surveys
Usability Scale surveys are quite similar to CES surveys as these allow companies to understand if customers are able to use their products and services efficiently.
The idea is to solicit customer feedback related to easiness of usage and use the feedback to make effective design changes.
5. Exit-Intent surveys
These are quite smart surveys as they are triggered right before a user is about to leave a website.
Exit-intent surveys generally ask visitors what they are looking for and provide them with a second chance to fulfill their objective of landing on the page.
These surveys do an excellent job of reducing customer churn rates.
6. Brand Awareness surveys
As a business owner, you must have a grip over what the customers think about your brand. A brand awareness survey does precisely that as it effectively records the opinions users have about your products, services, and the brand in general.
When should you use a survey or questionnaire?
Companies must know the right time to send a survey or a questionnaire. This is because, while both surveys and questionnaires complement each other, their use cases are entirely different.
So, when should you send a questionnaire or a survey? Let’s find out.
A questionnaire is a research tool that can help businesses collect a wide range of demographic data related to existing and potential users. It turns into a powerful tool when used by startups who are looking to define their target market.
The best time to send questionnaires is before sorting out the marketing strategy. This is because it can help generate valuable customer information and prepare a more demographic-specific marketing strategy.
However, the data collected through questionnaires is of no use if it cannot be analyzed. That’s where the role of a survey becomes paramount. Surveys can be shared after a customer has used your products and services, or even after an interaction.
Since surveys are shared right after an interaction, the solicited feedback is accurate and informative.
Surveys can also be shared after customers interact with customer support seeking feedback on the quality of query resolution.
Questionnaires are an important part of the overall survey. However, the focus should be on collecting data that can be quantitatively analyzed.
What’s the difference between a survey and questionaire?
Now that we have discussed all the differences between surveys and questionnaires, here is a table you can refer to when seeking the main factors differentiating both research tools.
|Gathers and analyzes research data
|Only used for collecting research data
|Open-ended and closed-ended
|Response or data collection speed
|Used on a target audience
|Used on specific respondents
|Subjective and objective
|Response data analysis
|Depth of questions
|Caters to multiple subjects
|Caters to multiple subjects
|Skip and branching logic
|Yes; helps eliminate unsuitable participants or responses.
|Yes; helps respondents skip questions or get redirected to different questions.
|How to send it?
|Online through mobile apps, websites, and prototype mediums.
|Online or offline through email, URL link, and SMS.
Different research methods used to prepare surveys and questionnaires
To create and conduct the best surveys and questionnaires, one must use the most appropriate research methods to prepare them as well. In this section of survey vs questionnaire guide, here are some of the research methods we recommend —
1. Qualitative research
Qualitative research refers to collecting qualitative or non-numerical data as part of the overall research or survey.
The process of soliciting qualitative data can have a huge impact on the survey as these entail subjective and in-depth questions that survey respondents can answer based on their opinions.
Qualitative research can be conducted via focus groups, interviews, or one-to-one discussions.
2. Quantitative research and data collection
Quantitative research is the opposite of qualitative research as it involves statistical data collection that helps companies rely on numbers to ensure accurate decision-making.
The numerical data is crucial as it allows companies to unlock trends and patterns that can be used to strengthen future planning and decision-making.
Some examples of quantitative research that we have covered in this guide are NPS and CSAT surveys.
3. Descriptive research
Descriptive research, as the name suggests, is all about understanding a subject, audience, or phenomenon in its entirety.
In this quest, researchers will push themselves to know the “who, what, how, where, and when” of the subject.
The answers to these questions allow companies to build a strong foundation and context for upcoming qualitative and quantitative research.
4. Analytical research
As descriptive research deciphers the “who, what, how, where, and when” of the subject, analytical research takes charge of the “why.”
Researchers use analytical research to figure out why things happen in a certain way and apply critical thinking skills to develop a strong understanding of the situation.
5. Applied research
Researchers, in their quest to get closer to the subject matter, may conduct applied research. In this, the focus is on figuring out the right approach to solve real-life problems.
The idea is to find practical solutions to overcome the challenges customers or a target audience experience.
6. Exploratory research
Exploratory research is the type of research that is commonly used to investigate a problem that hasn’t been touched before or is under-investigated.
It is referred to as preliminary research that helps generate clarity on the problem’s nature. However, it does not provide a conclusive or final solution.
Surveys and questionnaires are free research and data collection tools that facilitate strong and reliable decision-making across business operations.
However, one should know the differences between the two in order to figure out the right research tool for the job.
We hope this survey vs questionnaire guide on differences between surveys and questionnaires provided you with adequate useful information to make better research decisions.
Stay tuned for more informative posts in the future.