9 Advantages and Disadvantages of Questionnaires

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

Have you ever wondered if conducting a survey will work for your research?

There are tons of options you can use for your research, in this article, we will focus on the one we know best: surveys.

As with every research method, there are pros and cons. We’ve gathered the biggest treasures and pitfalls so you can make the best possible decision.

Get ready to discover survey advantages like cost efficiency, scalability and speedy results. But also disadvantages such as respondents with an own agenda and a possible lack of personalization.

But we’ll kick off with defining what a questionnaire is.

What’s a questionnaire?

A questionnaire and survey are not the same.

questionnaire is an instrument for collecting data, and almost always involve asking a given subject to respond to a set of oral or written questions.

survey is a process of gathering data that could involve a wide variety of data collection methods, including a questionnaire.

9 Advantages of Questionnaires

We’ll start with the good news first. What are a questionnaire’s biggest strengths?

1. Questionnaires are cost-efficient
questionnaire cost efficient

Questionnaires are one of the most affordable ways to gather quantitative data. Especially online and mobile surveys have a very low cost and a generous reach. There’s no printing cost, you don’t have to hire surveyors to ask people the questions, not do you have to buy stamps to send out your paper survey.

Still, no matter what type of survey you pick, it will be more affordable than outsourcing to a market research company.

A questionnaire can be placed on your website or emailed to your customers. These methods have little to no cost, depending on how you administer them, though strong targeting is necessary if you want them to receive the most accurate results.

Whether you want to find out the favorite ice cream flavor at a local shop or the most popular pizza at a pizza parlor, questionnaires are an inexpensive way to improve return on investment.

2. They’re practical

Apart from being inexpensive and flexible, questionnaires are also a practical way to gather data. They can be targeted to groups of your choosing and managed in various ways. You can pick and choose the questions asked as well as the format (open-ended or multiple choice). They offer a way to gather vast amounts of data on any subject.

For example, KBC Group learned just how practical surveys are. They were able to spread their quizzes, polls, and surveys during a three-day event. This made collecting real-time feedback almost effortlessly.

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. An online survey allowed them to collect the data they needed in the shortest time frame possible.

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 (provided they have an internet connection). 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. It’s important to be aware of cultural differences between people and countries when conducting worldwide research.

Geography no longer stands in the way of market research. But be aware of cultural differences between people and countries when conducting worldwide research.

5. You don’t need to be a scientist

questionnaire science

Most survey and questionnaire providers are quantitative in nature and allow an easy analysis of results. With built-in tools, it’s easy to analyze your results without a background in statistics or scientific research. Tools like Survey Anyplace are easy to interpret reports and visualizations, meaning that you’ll quickly be moving forward to turn your data into results. A built-in analysis also speeds up data gathering.

6. Scientific analysis and predictions

Look at research as a blank canvas. The more data you gather, the clearer the painting becomes. All this information gives marketers the capability to create new strategies and to follow trends in your audience. Analyzing reports can be used to generate predictions and even create benchmarks for follow-up questions or questionnaires. The best part? You don’t need any additional statistical software.

7. User anonymity

questionnaire anonymity

Online and email surveys allow respondents to maintain their 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. Respondents can take their time to complete the question. They will often answer more truthfully, research has shown that having a researcher present can lead to less honest and more social desirable answers.
questionnaire variety

9. Cover all aspects of a topic

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

We’ve gathered the 9 biggest disadvantages. Outweigh both the pros and cons of a survey before you make your decision.

1. Dishonesty

While there are many positives to questionnaires, dishonesty can be an issue. Respondents may not be 100 percent truthful with their answers. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including social desirability bias 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 the most accurate 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 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. Hard to convey feelings and emotions

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 go unnoticed. 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 analyze

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 analyzed. 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.

Too many open-ended questions can produce more data than can be analyzed. 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 a hidden 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.

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

Customization is the prevailing marketing theme. Any piece of marketing material is at risk of seeming impersonal unless time and care are taken to personalize it. If you’re unable to add touches of personalization, 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 personalized content in all communication.

8. Skipped questions

questionnaire skipped questions

When using questionnaires, there is a chance that some questions will be ignored. If questions are not required, there is always that risk they won’t be answered. Online questionnaires offer a simple solution to this issue: make answering the question 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 threat. 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, as mentioned, 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 digitizing 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 is 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. We’ve compiled a list of 34 tips to improve your survey response rate.

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, make it clear 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.

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.

Find inspiration for your 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. 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.

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


  • meghana swaraj

    August 9, 2017

    nice informative blog on Questionnaire and surveys.

  • Lifu Shangu

    July 27, 2017

    Informative and easy to follow. Far much less jargon!

  • Crescencia Ndlovu

    August 21, 2016

    Thanks so much for this article,it was an eye opener when i was writing my assignment on this topic.

  • Alfredo Ferretti

    August 11, 2016

    Generally I don’t read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to take a look at and do it! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice article.

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