9 Questionnaire Pros and Cons Every Marketer Should Know

Once You Learn Them, You’ll Be a Questionnaire Pro Too!

You’ve just sat down to dinner and the phone rings.
Last time it rang you were greeted by a market researcher looking to quiz you on your last clothing purchase.
Silently you wonder if this time it will be some government researcher asking for your opinion…

Amazon Marketplace ratings and Skype call quality surveys certainly fall into this category, but our topic of conversation today is the type of questionnaire you can use to learn more about your audience and build your marketing strategies. As with all research methods, there are pros and cons.

Discover questionnaire pros like cost efficiency, scalability and speedy results. But also cons such as dishonesty: respondents may have their own agenda and there can be a lack of personalisation.

Before we talk about the positive and negative points of questionnaires, let’s cover the basics.

What Is a Questionnaire?

Oftentimes, the word survey is used interchangeably with the word questionnaire. Entrepreneur defines a market survey as a study of the spending habits and buying power of consumers in your business’s geographic area. Market surveys are both cost-effective and a useful way to gain information about a target audience.

Questionnaires allow you to gain insights into your market. This data helps you to better understand customers, with respect to geography, needs, shopping patterns, likes and dislikes.

Website analytics are helpful, but provide limited insights. Questionnaires improve content marketing and user experience, increasing your conversion rates. The key is asking the right questions at the right time. There are loads of advantages in using questionnaires.

9 Advantages of Questionnaire

1. Questionnaires are cost-efficient
questionnaire cost efficient

Questionnaires are absolutely one of the most affordable ways to gather qualitative and quantitative data when the responses are gathered in a standard way. Online and mobile surveys generally have a very low cost and a generous reach, especially when compared to the cost of telephone surveys – although any type of survey or questionnaire is more affordable than outsourcing to a market research company.

A questionnaire can be placed on your website or emailed to your customers. These last two methods have little to no cost, depending on how you administer them, though strong targeting is necessary if you want them to produce the results you’re hoping for.

A cost-efficient way to find out the favorite ice cream flavor at a local shop or the most popular pizza at a pizza parlour, questionnaires are an inexpensive way to improve return on investment.

2. They’re practical

Being inexpensive and flexible, questionnaires are a practical way to gather the data you need. They can be targeted to groups of your choosing and administered in various forms. You can pick and choose the questions asked as well as the format (open-ended or multiple choice). They offer a way to gather multitudes of data on any subject of your choosing.

KBC Group learned just how practical surveys are. They were able to give quizzes, polls and surveys during a three-day event. This made collecting real-time feedback painless.

3. Speedy results

questionnaire speedy results

It’s quick and easy to collect results with online and mobile tools. This means that you can gain insights in as little as 24 hours (or less!), depending on the scale and reach of your questionnaire. You don’t need to wait for another company to deliver the answers you need.

Dajo Associates needed quality feedback fast. The South African consulting firm needed a way to make informed decisions quickly. Survey Anyplace allows them to collect the data they needed in a timeframe that worked for them.

4. Scalability

Questionnaires and surveys allow you to gather information from a large audience. Online, you can literally distribute your questions to anyone, anywhere in the world. This means that for a relatively low cost, you can target a city or a country. Geography no longer stands in the way of market research.

5. You don’t need to be a scientist

questionnaire science

Most survey and questionnaire providers allow easy analysis of results. With built-in tools, it’s easy to analyse your results without a background in statistics. Tools like Survey Anyplace are easy to interpret, meaning that you’ll quickly be moving forward to turn your data into reports, visualisations – and results. Built-in analysis also speeds up data gathering.

6. Scientific analysis and predictions

The more data you gather, the bigger the picture you get. All of this information gives marketers the capability to create new strategy and to follow trends in your audience.. Analysing reports can be used to generate predictions and even create benchmarks and followup questions.

7. User anonymity

questionnaire anonymity

Online and email surveys allow respondents to maintain anonymity. Mail-in questionnaires also allow for complete invisibility, which maximizes comfort for those answering. Even phone interviews are not face-to-face, thereby making it a more private communication. This concealment puts respondents at ease and encourages them to answer truthfully; however, there is still a human touch to these phone interviews.

Digital questionnaires give the best sense of anonymity and privacy. This type of questionnaire is great for all sorts of businesses and subject matter, and results in the most honest answers. You can be sure your results will be much more accurate when using this method.

8. No pressure

When using mail-in, online or email questionnaires, there’s no time limit and no one on the other end waiting for an answer. The respondent can take their time to answer the question fully.

9. Cover all aspects of a topic

questionnaire variety

One of the biggest advantages is being able to ask as many questions as you like. Of course, it benefits the marketer to keep each individual questionnaire short, since respondents may find a long one frustrating. However, since they are efficient, cost-effective in nature and have an easy mode of delivery, there is no harm in creating multiple surveys that build upon one another.

9 Disadvantages of Questionnaires

1. Dishonesty

While there are many positives to questionnaires, dishonesty can be an issue. Respondents may not be 100 percent truthful in their answers. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including embarrassment and attempting to protect privacy. Stop dishonesty in its tracks by assuring respondents that their privacy is valued and that the process prevents personal identification.

2. Lack of conscientious responses

questionnaire unconscientiousness


Every administrator hopes for conscientious responses, but there’s no way to know if the respondent has really thought the question through before answering. At times, answers will be chosen before fully reading the question or the potential answers. Sometimes respondents will skip through questions, or split-second choices may be made, affecting the validity of your data. This drawback is tough to defeat, but if you make your survey short and your questions simple you’re likely to get well thought out responses.

3. Differences in understanding and interpretation

The trouble with not presenting questions to users face-to-face is that each may have different interpretations of your questions. Without someone to explain the questionnaire fully and ensure each individual has the same understanding, results can be subjective. Respondents may also have trouble grasping the meaning of some questions that may seem clear to the creator. This miscommunication can lead to skewed results. The best way to combat this situation is to create simple questions that are easy to answer.

4. Feelings and meanings unable to be conveyed

questionnaire confusion

A survey or questionnaire cannot fully capture emotional responses or the feelings of the respondents. Without administering the questionnaire face-to-face, there is no way to observe facial expression, reactions or body language. Without these subtleties, useful data can be lost. Don’t get stuck trying to interpret emotion in data, instead go for a Likert scale, the response scale that often uses a rating scale from “slightly agree” to “strongly disagree.” This allows for strength and assertion in responses rather than multiple choice.

5. Some questions are difficult to analyse

Questionnaires produce a lot of data. Multiple choice questions can be tabulated and graphed, but open-ended questions are different. Open-ended questions allow for individualized answers which cannot be quantified, and must be reviewed by a human. Too many open-ended questions can produce more data than can be analysed. Fix this pitfall but choosing your question types carefully. If you have ten questions, you probably don’t want more than one to be open-ended since these have no way to be quantified.

6. Respondents may have an agenda

questionnaire agenda

As with any sort of research, bias can be an issue. Participants in your survey may have an interest in your product, idea or service. Others may be influenced to participate based on the subject of your questionnaire. These proclivities can lead to inaccuracies in your data, generated from an imbalance of respondents who see your topic in an overly positive or negative light. Filter out a hidden agenda with a pre-screening. Come up with a few indirect questions that will remove those results wreckers.

7. Lack of personalization

Customisation is the prevailing marketing theme. Any piece of marketing material is at risk of seeming impersonal, unless time and care is taken to personalise it. If you’re unable to add touches of personalisation, some potential respondents may be put off and ignore it. This can be particularly difficult when the questionnaire or survey is taken voluntarily on a website, outside of a purchase or email.

Fix this by always sending emails containing respondents names. Use dynamic content on websites, and strive to use names, personal data and personalised content in all communication.

8. Skipped questions

questionnaire skipped questions

When using mail questionnaires, there is a chance that some questions will be ignored. The same can be true for online questionnaires. If questions are not required, there is always that risk they won’t be answered. Online questionnaires offer the clearest answer, which is to make all questions required. Otherwise, make your survey short and your questions uncomplicated and you will avoid question skipping and get better completion rates.

9. Accessibility issues

No matter what form of delivery is used, lack of accessibility is a possibility. Surveys may be unsuitable for users with a visual or hearing impairment, or other impediments such as illiteracy. This should be considered when choosing to do research in this manner. Always choose a questionnaire platform that has accessibility options built in.

Advantages of Using Online Questionnaires

There are numerous advantages to using online questionnaires. Firstly, they can be sent out quickly and turnaround can be relatively short. You’re able to reach your audience in the moments that matter – while they’re browsing your products, as they read your content, as soon as they’ve made a purchase.

Online questionnaires allow users time to consider responses – a distinct advantage over face-to-face or telephone methods. Besides these great perks, the cost of online questionnaires is low and actionable items produced by the data can produce a high return on investment.

There are additional benefits as well. User responses can be precoded, eliminating transcription errors. The data is already in an electronic format, allowing for easy analysis without the hassle of digitising data. Lastly, guidance and/or software is available through providers such as Survey Anyplace at an affordable cost and with a wide range of possibilities to make it fit your brand and your requirements.

Why Selecting the Right Type of Questions is So Important

A questionnaire is only as effective as its questions. These questions need to be evaluated quickly and they need to produce data that can be acted upon. If you make questions too difficult or confusing to answer, you may end up with meaningless data. Choosing the wrong type of question can also lead to incomplete results or data that’s hard to interpret.

The main types of questions are open-ended, closed-ended and semi-closed ended questions. Within these types, there are an abundance of ways to present your query from ratings to yes/no question. Learn how to select the right types of survey questions for your needs in our essential guide.

How to Motivate Your Respondents to Participate

You have a great set of questions and you’re ready to get answers, but no one wants to participate. This has happened to all of us plenty of times before. We’re so excited about the data that we forget we have to make other people excited about the questions. The most obvious way to do this is to reward respondents for their time through gifts, credits or payment. Survey Anyplace even offers fun reward tools like a digital scratch card or slot machine.

Rewarding a respondent is just one means of getting responses. Respondents also want to make sure their privacy is protected, so stress that answers are confidential and make sure your privacy policy is up-to-date. Emphasize how the data will be useful to the user experience or helpful to society. People like to feel like they’re doing a good thing.

Remember that dinner interruption at the beginning?
They also want to know that they can complete your questionnaire without the hassle of dinner time calls. Respecting the respondent’s time goes a long way towards showing you appreciate their participation. Be sure to send reminders as well – many people forget anything that isn’t at the top of their minds.

Get Ideas for Questionnaire Design

Designing a questionnaire may sound simple until you sit down to write the questions. Planning, content creation and graphic design are all important. You may find that the questions you create are too complicated or you may have trouble structuring them for standardized answers.

Not everyone has the time or the professional design skills to create a questionnaire. That’s why some software companies like Survey Anyplace offer templates to create questions in minutes.

21 tips and tricks to create the perfect questionnaire. Click here and get it delivered straight to your inbox!

Now that you know how helpful and effective questionnaires and surveys can be, get a free Survey Anyplace account!

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Meet the Writers
  • Sofie Nelen

    Digital Marketeer for Survey Anyplace - writing down tips and thoughts to unbore the common survey with a focus on marketing.

  • Stefan Debois

    As the CEO of Survey Anyplace, Stefan focuses on how to get the best results from the tool - preferably backed with real-life data.

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