If you’re looking to conduct consumer research to gather quick opinions or a better understanding of your target audience using an online method, it may be difficult to know where to start. An internet search on ‘consumer surveys’ will rapidly pull up results displaying a variety of options, with Google Surveys coming up near the top; a familiar, well-known brand may feel like the safest option as a starting point for your research, particularly if on the surface it does a similar job to any market research agency. Before you decide, however, we thought it would be helpful to highlight the (rather large) difference in offerings between Google surveys and a traditional market research agency.
Here we explore the differences in a little more depth at each stage of the research process, to help you decide which service is a better fit for your research needs.
Audience targeting and research design
– Unlike with Google Surveys, when dealing with a traditional market research agency like Opinipoll, you will be in direct contact with a real person who can offer consultancy on the research design and answer any questions you may have.
– Research agencies can help make sure that the audience you’re trying to reach is the audience that is best aligned to your research, and can ensure that the screening questions that you are using will accurately filter that specific audience.
– Often agencies offer advice on your questionnaire at no extra cost to make certain that the questions you are asking match up directly with the aim of your research and any research objectives you may have. There is even the option of leaving the complete questionnaire design to an experienced team.
– When setting up a questionnaire on Google Surveys, there are several example surveys to give some inspiration on the type of questions you may want to ask your audience, but these remain quite general.
– Google surveys is easy to use, and fast to get the questionnaire down on the page without any back and forth on the question design, however this comes at the cost of no expert advice, alignment of questions or help with audience targeting.
– In terms of questionnaire design, there is usually no strict limit on the number of questions to include in the questionnaire when carry out research through an agency. In order to maintain respondent engagement however, a suggested maximum of around 20 to 25 questions is thought to be best.
– Screener questions that are used to filter your audience are not included in the main question count, and you can include as many screeners as required in order to target your desired audience.
– If some questions within the questionnaire are only relevant to certain respondents, perhaps because of their demographics or how they have answered a previous question, most market research agencies use software that can route questions accordingly so that it is only shown to the particular group of respondents – something Google Surveys doesn’t allow.
– When setting up a questionnaire using Google surveys, there is a strict maximum of 10 core questions within a survey – any more will require setting up a separate survey. These question types are limited to being single choice, multiple choice, 5-point scales or an image choice.
– Google surveys also has a restriction on the number of screener questions you can include – a maximum of four.
– All questions asked within the survey have to be asked to all of the respondents, there is no function for routing questions within Google Surveys.
Audience and fieldwork
– After understanding your target audience and consulting on appropriate screeners, market research agencies will specifically target the relevant respondents to send the questionnaire to. Not only can they target general demographics such as age and region, but also more sophisticated targeting such as level of alcohol consumption or which household pet they own.
– Once the data has been collected, normally research agencies do a thorough quality check on the responses to ensure that the data is of high standards.
– One of the highlights of conducting research through a market research agency is that once the questionnaire has been signed off on your end, you can sit back and relax. The fieldwork is closely monitored for you as well as the management of any quotas that may be in place.
– Instead of targeting respondents through an opt-in panel, Google Surveys are sent out to consumers through their web pages meaning that the surveys have a wide reach. However, the way that google surveys works means that respondents are required to complete the survey in order to get through to the content they want to read online. This can raise potential issues around the quality if respondents are rushing through.
– When sending out your survey using Google Surveys, you are limited to targeting respondents on their age, gender, android use and region – any other filtering will have to be done using the four screening questions within your questionnaire.
– Use of Google surveys, however, does mean you are completely in charge or the sampling and have the freedom to control the fieldwork yourself.
Outputs and analysis
– Once all the data has been collected through the survey, the default output of research agencies tend to be excel data tables showing the breakdown of the results for each question. There are also normally options for other formats of reporting, such as PowerPoint reports, which explain the results in context and allows for extra analysis and highlighting of any interesting differences between different demographics. Once the report has been delivered, sometimes there is even a member of the team on hand to walk you through the results and answer any questions.
– Using a market research agency to deliver the results allows for an alternative perception on the findings, which often means you get more out of your research than if you were to do it all single-handedly.
– Once data collection has been completed using Google surveys, charts are automatically produced clearly showing results of the data. Cross tabs and demographic segmentations are also provided, however little is explained in regards to the wider context of the project.
– While up to two open ended questions can be included in Google Surveys, the analysis of this type of question is quite limited in comparison to market research agencies.
If you’re looking for rapid answers at a low cost then Google Surveys is the most likely option for you, but this is most suited to researchers who know who their audience is and know exactly what they want to ask them, with little assistance with results analysis and understanding.
Although a Market Research agency is often thought to be the more expensive option, here at Opinipoll we pride ourselves on being budget aware and delivering quick and clean results. Our costs include expert advice on both the research and questionnaire design, having the faff of sampling taken off your hands and options for extra analysis with a more in-depth explanation of the results – check out our free quote calculator today.
For a shorter summary of these differences, see our comparison table here.