Paper Surveys vs Online Surveys – Which One’s Better?

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We have established time and again how valuable free online surveys are for collecting data from customers. But every method has its pros and cons that the surveyors should be aware of. For some people, printed surveys are more reliable, whereas, for others, they are simply time-consuming.

With changing times, most computer literate people have stopped using paper surveys altogether. Those who are new to online surveys, tend to copy the paper format they have been using previously. It is indeed good to build upon the already existing knowledge, but if you want to reap the benefits of free online surveys, you should make effort to learn the basic differences between the two methods.

There is a saying: “if there is a will, there is a way.” With your will to learn more about their differences, SurveyCrest blog will guide you every step of the way as a teacher.

Here are some major differences between paper-based and web-based survey methods.

1. Survey Presentation

On top of the list is the difference in the presentation of surveys. Most paper surveys are printed at a high resolution compared with what we see on the computer screen. With web surveys, people can use widely different screen resolutions, font size, and monitor size. They can even be filled out and submitted from a mobile phone. All you need is an internet connection. Therefore, web survey appears different to different people.

  • Printed surveys are ideally with plain white background and easy-to-read font.
  • You can add company logos in web survey and change color relevant to your cause or industry.
  • In paper survey, readers don’t mind lengthy questions, but in web surveys, it is recommended that the length be kept comfortably short. Numbering in a rating scale as well as limited response options work well in online surveys.

2. Response Rate

Response rate is ten times higher with web surveys and data begins to accumulate within minutes. Depending on the notification method and your audience, survey collection can be over within a few days. On the other hand, paper based surveys may take weeks or even months to distribute, collect, and prepare for results.

3. Survey Cost

Paper surveys cost for their printing and if you hire a professional, may cost even more. Internet provides a variety of options to explore when it comes to survey making. With quality website such as SurveyCrest, it doesn’t cost you a buck to prepare your own surveys within minutes. Its pre-built themes, ready-made templates, and unlimited questions provide structure to your survey and the survey can be disseminated through social media.

4. Structuring Questions

Unlike paper surveys where you can either work with radio buttons and check boxes, online surveys provide an advantage of the drop-down list. The compact style allows you to present a large number of responses to the user as a one-liner. Users are also provided with text answer areas, with automatic spelling checks and least chances of grammatical mistakes, leading to intelligible data.
Once a survey is over, you can view detailed graphical analysis for each question of each respondent instantly.

5. Reaching Global Audience

It is not feasible to disseminate a paper survey among your international audience, or even within a country. With free online surveys, SurveyCrest provides its users an option to market their surveys anywhere online through emails, social networks, company website or blogs, and other blogs related to your industry. You can reach global audience within a few seconds.

Your Say!

We have explained the various distinctions of both survey methods. Now it’s your turn to tell which type seems more feasible to you. Leave your opinion and suggestions in the comments below.

About The Author

Kelvin Stiles is a tech enthusiast and works as a marketing consultant at SurveyCrest – FREE online survey software and publishing tools for academic and business use. He is also an avid blogger and a comic book fanatic.