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Survey Audience

Who should your survey audience consist of? Depending on your survey problem and your survey goals, this question can be answered in myriad different ways (See related link).

This tutorial will examine the specifics of determining your survey audience, explore who should be part of your survey audience based on your survey goals, and give an overview of the various types of surveys available to meet the needs of your specific survey audience.

Determining Your Survey Audience

Being aware of the needs and preferences of your customers or clients is key to your success. Survey audiences are diverse, and you need to plan appropriately.

Ask yourself:

Who am I going to interview?

This group is called your target population. More than likely, you can not interview every person in your target population, so you will need to interview a smaller sub-group of respondents, known as a sample. Your sample size, survey methodology, and survey goals will also impact budget, time and available resources, so plan carefully.

How many people am I going to survey?

The larger the sample, the more closely it will represent attitudes in your overall target population. To help determine your sample size, use the Sample Calculator here.

Types of Survey Problems and Audience Selection

Survey problems vary widely, depending on the specific goals and needs of each organization. Organizations conduct surveys to answer questions like those listed in the table below:

Type of Survey

Sample Questions

Customer Satisfaction
  • How satisfied are my customers with my product or service?
  • Are staff members meeting customer expectations?
Employee Satisfaction
  • What do employees think about the company, benefits, management?
  • What can we do to reduce employee turnover?
  • Is management communicating effectively with employees?
Lead Qualification
  • Who likes the product but is not ready to purchase? Why?
  • Who is interested in purchasing now?
  • Who is not interested in purchasing?

Which Type of Survey Should I Choose?

There are many types of surveys from which to choose. After determining your survey design —including your survey audience— use the comparison chart below to help you decide whether Web surveys, mail surveys, telephone surveys, or personal interview surveys are best suited to your specific needs and applications:

Type of Survey

Advantages

Disadvantages

Recommendation

Web Survey
  • Very low cost
  • Extremely fast
  • Complex questioning assures better data
  • Anonymity of respondents results in more honest answers to sensitive topics
  • Respondents provide more detail to open-ended questions.
  • Survey software simplifies compilation and analysis of data collected.
  • Do not reflect population as a whole
  • Respondent completion rates lower for longer surveys
  • Random respondents may reply if your survey appears on Web page.
  • When desired target population consists mainly of Internet users.
Examples:
  • Business-to-business research
  • Employee Attitude surveys
Mail Survey
  • Frequently used for social research
  • Low cost (almost 75% less than personal interviews)
  • Eliminates potential bias
  • May result in biased sample
  • Low response rate
  • Time! Need to wait at least several weeks for all responses to arrive
  • Target population is highly literate or is in a group with specialized interests
Telephone Survey
  • Reach 96% of all homes
  • CATI software streamlines process
  • Interviewers can ask for clarification on responses; additional detail
  • Sales calls often pose as "research" calls
  • Typical calling window interrupts respondents' personal time
  • Call screening is common
  • No visual support

  • General population surveys
Personal Interview Survey
  • Frequently used to gauge attitudinal behavior
  • Very good response rates
  • Longer interviews tolerated
  • Do not reflect population as a whole
  • Respondent completion rates lower for longer surveys
  • Random respondents may reply if your survey appears on Web page.
  • When desired target population consists mainly of Internet users.
Examples:
  • Business-to-business research
  • Employee Attitude surveys
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