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Surveys are a common research method, flexible enough to collect data on almost anything.


Surveys are incredibly versatile methods of research that allow you to transform feedback into data. Find out how your customers feel about your brand, measure employee engagement, or explore market segments—all possible with a survey. Surveys are versatile, valuable, and vital to your market research. 

Research is essential for gaining information that allows you to make informed decisions for your business. There are many types of research including experiments, case studies, correlation, interviews, and surveys. Not every type of research is best for every situation.

In survey research, respondents are asked to provide feedback by answering a series of questions. Questions can be in a variety of different formats such as multiple choice, matrix, Likert scale, and many others.

In survey research, the type of questions you ask and your actual respondents rely entirely on the the goal of the survey and what you want to know. But as far as how the survey is administered, all members of your selected group would receive the same questions. 

For example, you may survey your employees to gauge their satisfaction at work. Or, you might conduct survey research on your target market for feedback on your latest ad campaign. In another example, survey research could help you hone in on a potential new customer segment that might purchase your product.

Check out a few different use cases for survey research.

Survey research can include online surveys, mail surveys, telephone surveys, and personal interviews. Online surveys are very popular due to their ease of creation and data collection, as well as low cost and flexibility. You can obtain a lot of data quickly with online surveys, making them a natural first choice for many people performing market research. Learn how surveys with SurveyMonkey work.

Tap into our global panel of more than 175M people across 130+ countries—for even the most niche audiences.

Market research

Online survey research is frequently used in market research. The data acquired from survey research is useful for launching a new business, maintaining a successful business, determining new products or features, or measuring the success of a marketing campaign. Market research with surveys provides you with immediate feedback on what customers think about your products and services, data in a structured format for ease of use in making informed decisions, information about strengths and areas for improvement, etc.

Employee satisfaction

Surveys are used internally to measure employee satisfaction. They can measure satisfaction with benefits, compensation, work environment, opportunities for growth, and other topics related to employee morale. By using a survey and guaranteeing anonymity, employees are empowered to answer truthfully. Feedback obtained from an employee satisfaction survey can be used to improve conditions in the workplace, shape policies, and provide a benchmark for future satisfaction surveys.

Exit interviews

When an individual is leaving your company, an exit interview survey will identify the reason they are leaving. Use the information from the survey to identify areas of improvement with the goal of increasing employee retention.

Customer satisfaction

What keeps your customers coming back? Find out with a customer satisfaction survey. Understanding what your customers want and need from you helps you to employ strategies to keep their business. Remember, it’s easier and less costly to nurture and retain customers than it is to acquire new ones. Customer satisfaction is directly related to customer lifetime value and churn, so it’s an important metric to monitor.

Brand awareness

Are customers in your target market aware of your brand? Find out with a brand awareness survey. This type of survey provides insight into how customers see your brand and how it compares to competitors. The data you collect can be used to find ways to enhance your brand awareness and gain a competitive advantage. 

While you’re looking at your brand, you can also measure:

  • Brand loyalty
  • Brand identity
  • Brand image
  • Brand recognition
  • Brand recall
  • Brand trust

Event feedback

From your perspective, your event was spectacular. Do your attendees agree? Use an event feedback survey to find out how they felt. Use the feedback to shape your next event.

The main benefit of survey research is that it provides you with first-hand primary data that is collected, maintained, and analyzed by you for your goals. Your data is exclusive and original. Because you’ve performed the survey research yourself, the data is the most reliable, accurate, and applicable to your goals.

Online surveys are one of the least expensive methods of research. Even if you add an incentive to boost response rates, online surveys are still more affordable than hiring research firms or agencies to do the survey for you.

Online surveys have tremendous reach because how you send them is so versatile. For example, you can collect feedback via email, SMS, social media, QR code, or even your website. Being able to reach people in so many different ways, in realtime and from any device means you have the opportunity to reach a lot of people. This guarantees that you’ll have an accurate sample to analyze and draw conclusions from. And if you’re having trouble getting that reach—for example, if you have a niche audience you’re trying to survey—SurveyMonkey Audience can help you gather survey responses from respondents worldwide.

Survey research can be conducted via online surveys, email, social media, mobile, or even in person from a kiosk. Depending upon your target audience, you can use a mixed-mode of research, combining the necessary survey methods as needed. For example, if your respondents are located in a rural area with limited internet access, you may need to set up offline surveys in addition to sending them via email. If this is the case, you’ll need to combine the data you receive into one dataset for analysis.

You need your survey respondents to be honest if you’re going to collect accurate data. The anonymity of a survey allows them to be candid and provide straightforward, accurate answers. Clearly state that survey answers will be kept completely confidential so participants are aware from the start that they will not be connected to the data.

Surveys provide researchers with reliable, usable, primary data to inform business decisions. They are important because the data comes directly from the individuals you have identified in your goal. And surveys give you a detailed, systematic way to view and analyze your data. 

For example, suppose your goal is to find out what your customers want from your brand. In that case, a survey is the method of research that allows you to ask customers your questions directly, collect their answers, and use the data to decide what features or products you’ll provide in response.

A well-crafted survey will provide you with insights into your stated goal—both positive and negative. It’s imperative that you make it known that all survey results are confidential so that respondents will feel confident being completely honest with their feedback, opinions, and comments. This is especially important when asking explicit questions or when employers ask for feedback from employees.

Your survey can provide a platform for respondents to present kudos or criticisms, which can be used for later discussion and planning.

Use the feedback you receive to inform plans for product improvements and features, workplace changes, and other business decisions. Once you’ve acted on the feedback with improvements, send out another survey to see how they were received and track what still needs work.

Types of surveys to use for your research

There are several types of surveys used in research, and SurveyMonkey offers several guides and templates to help you conduct the actual survey research. Here are a few types of surveys you might find useful:

Consumer segmentation can help you to build buyer personas, guide campaign targeting, measure product demand, and launch successful products. Feel free to get started with our customizable customer demographics template.

Find out your customers’ purchase habits and motivations with a usage and attitudes solutions. This type of survey research will help you identify new opportunities, give context to how people use your products, and find untapped markets for your products.

Are your employees engaged? If so, your business will be more profitable, have better staff retention, and report fewer safety issues. Measure employee engagement to begin making your workplace and brand better.

The SurveyMonkey Brand Tracker is useful for measuring brand health and monitoring it over time. Check out the competition, grow brand awareness, and manage brand reputation with brand survey research.

Considering the launch of a new product? A product concept analysis survey can validate your idea, or send you back to the drawing board, in less than an hour. 

Our market research solutions offer multiple ways you can integrate surveys into your research for the most authentic, accurate, and actionable results.

Case studies

Still wondering if survey research could yield important information for you? Take a look at how integral survey research has been to shoe company Allbirds’ brand growth. Or how plant-based protein company JUST uses surveys to make informed business decisions. 

Online surveys are an easy, effective, and efficient way to conduct research. Make progress toward your goals as you base your decisions on primary research from survey results. We make it easy to get started with customizable templates.

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