8 types of surveys (methods and examples)

What type of survey research is best for my business? Can I do customer satisfaction surveys over the phone? When are panel research surveys the way to go? And are in-person interviews worth the time?

Great questions to ask yourself when you’re looking into survey methods for your brand.

There are many different types of surveys, and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. In this guide, we will discuss eight different types of surveys and provide examples of how consumer businesses like yours can use them. We will also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each type of survey.

To whet your appetite, here are the 8 survey types we’ll talk about:

  1. Online surveys
  2. Interviews
  3. Face-to-face surveys
  4. Phone surveys
  5. Panel surveys
  6. Paper surveys
  7. Kiosk surveys
  8. Pop-up surveys
Person carrying out online market research

How to choose the right survey method

Ultimately, the best way to choose the right survey method for your research is to consider your goals and objectives. Let’s look at how you can identify which types of surveys you should consider.

Your goal

There are many different objectives for consumer research. Some common objectives include understanding customer needs, gauging customer satisfaction, tracking customer behavior, informing new product development and measuring brand awareness.

If you want high data quality for your research make sure you choose survey research methods that match your objectives.

Here’s an example: Mail surveys are not great for collecting large amounts of data—all those envelopes to fill!—but can help if you want to ask questions to consumers in a specific zip code.

Resources

Your available resources play a major role in determining the type of survey that is right for your market research.

If you don’t have the budget or people power to conduct a telephone survey or in-person interviews, you might want to choose online surveys. And even within that spectrum, there are countless survey methods depending on your budget.

Time

Interviews, for example, require more time than online surveys, but they provide more accurate, qualitative results.

It’s crucial you don’t just look at the time it takes to conduct your surveys, but also keep in mind how long it takes to analyze the results. Transcribing interviews can be a lot of work, and you might need some external or even AI help to analyze sentiment.

Your audience

You might be leaning towards conducting research using online surveys, because it’s quick and relatively easy to analyze.

But what if your audience is on average 85 years old—and not the kind that knows how to work an iPad better than the average millennial? Take into account how your audience will respond to the survey method you use.

Elderly person using a tablet device

8 types of surveys

There’s a survey for every occasion, but which one is right for you? Let’s dive into eight different survey methods and look at which one will help you collect data for your research the best way possible.

1. Online surveys

Online surveys offer a number of benefits for market research. They are fast, cheap, and easy to distribute, and they provide large sample sizes.

There can be drawbacks with online surveys too. Different survey platforms gather insights in different ways, so make sure the platform you use gathers responses in a way that maximizes honesty and quality, but minimizes respondent frustration and rushed answers.

When you use survey software well, online surveys can help you reach a very specific demographic, fairly easily.

It’s a good point to mention that with Attest’s survey software, you get everything you need for a successful research project. You get an easy-to-use survey platform, designated research support from our in-house research team, and data that’s triple-checked for quality.

Triple-checked data and designated research support with Attest

With Attest you get designated research support from our in-house experts plus triple-checked data—all to make sure the insights you get are as valuable as possible

See how Attest works!

It’s crucial to approach your online surveys with care: choose a tool that helps you get in front of the people you need, in a way that will help respondents understand and fill in the survey correctly and honestly.

2. Interviews

Talking to people one-on-one is the oldest survey method in the book, but is it right for you?

The benefits of using interviews for market research are that they allow businesses to get detailed feedback from customers, and they can help businesses to understand customer attitudes and behaviors with a bit more flavor than you might get from a paper or screen: you can ask follow-up questions, and clarify questions that might seem confusing to respondents.

The drawbacks of using interviews for market research are that they can be expensive and time-consuming, and they may not be suitable for all types of businesses. And while the qualitative insights you get are super useful, it’d take you a really long time to gather as much data as you would with, for example, online survey tools.

3. Face-to-face survey

A face-to-face survey is different from an interview, in that you follow a specific set of questions. It’s therefore a lot quicker than interviews, and does not necessarily require experienced surveyors.

This is useful if you want to target a specific audience in a certain location, for instance in a supermarket or shopping mall.

Face-to-face survey being conducted

4. Phone surveys

Phone surveys can be a great way to get feedback from customers for market research.

They have several benefits: they’re personal, they reach a wide audience, and they can be tailored to collect specific information.

However, there are also some drawbacks: response rates tend to be low, people may not be honest on the phone, and it’s expensive to conduct a survey this way. Not to mention the time it takes: sometimes you’ll have to call people back, and collecting and analyzing all the data can be a time-consuming activity.

5. Panel surveys

Panel surveys are a type of survey where the respondents are chosen beforehand because they fit certain criteria. For example, they might own a certain product or live in a specific area. Panel surveys can be carried out online, by telephone or face-to-face.

One example of a panel survey is the American National Election Study, which interviews the same group of people every presidential election year to track voting patterns and opinions.
Panel surveys are often part of longitudinal surveys, combined with trend surveys and cohort surveys.

A longitudinal survey is a type of research survey that is administered to the same group of people over a period of time. This type of survey allows researchers to track changes in attitudes or behaviors over time. Longitudinal surveys are often used in social science research, but can also be used for consumer and market research.

6. Paper surveys

Yes, even with the internet being integrated with every part of our day, there are still some reasons to choose paper surveys for your market research.

For instance, perhaps you need to survey people who don’t have smartphones and might all be in one location—remember those 85-year-olds who aren’t the savviest with technology? Now imagine they live in residential care—a paper survey is ideal.

7. Kiosk surveys

Kiosk surveys are conducted on-location, often in stores or public spaces, to gather people’s opinions right where they are.

Customer satisfaction research kiosk

Kiosk surveys offer a number of benefits for businesses and consumers. For businesses, they provide a way to collect feedback from customers in a quick and easy manner. Kiosks can be used to survey customers about their experience at a particular location or about a product or service that they’ve purchased. This feedback can help businesses improve the quality of their products and services.

For consumers, kiosk surveys provide a convenient way to provide feedback about their experience in the moment. They can also be used to enter contests or sweepstakes, or to receive discounts on products or services.

8. Pop-up surveys

Pop-up surveys are a type of survey that can be found on many websites. They allow businesses to collect data from website visitors in real-time, and they are easy to deploy.

However, there are some drawbacks to using pop-up surveys, including the fact that they can be intrusive and annoying to website visitors. They might click at random or fill in complete gibberish just to get rid of the pop-up.

That means you have to take timing and placement into account, and consider incentives for people to motivate them to take a second longer to fill in the survey.

Survey research examples in action

We’re not going to lie: we’re big fans of online surveys.

They’re versatile, valuable and continue to give businesses insights that can turn their brand upside down—in a good way. Let’s look at some use cases for surveys and how our consumer brands have used Attest to gather insights that are truly valuable to them.

Market research surveys

Market research surveys are a type of survey used to gather information about a particular market. This type of survey is often used by businesses to understand customer needs and preferences, track market trends and identify potential areas for growth. It can also be used to get to know how people feel about competitors, or to understand differences between different markets on a national level.

And that’s exactly what Baby Brezza did. They used Attest to carry out market analysis among mothers in France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Australia, Korea and Taiwan.

We wanted to cover some of the big markets in Europe, and some big markets in Asia and understand consumer habits and practices in those markets. Because even though babies are the same around the world, parents’ behaviors and approaches are different.

David Contract, Marketing Team Lead, Baby Brezza (Betesh Group)

This is exactly something you can clarify using a market research survey. Extra points for doing this with an online survey, because traveling to all those countries and interviewing mothers on the spot is unrealistic.

What was great was that within less than a week, we got the results back. I was able to go through it all and then I realized that there’s actually a lot more similarity than difference in terms of this new product opportunity around the world.

David Contract, Marketing Team Lead, Baby Brezza (Betesh Group)

Read about what Baby Brezza did with their insights.

Brand tracking surveys

You can track different brand metrics using surveys, such as brand awareness, brand perception and brand recall. There are a few different types of brand research:

Brand awareness surveys are used to measure how familiar consumers are with a given brand. This type of survey can help businesses determine which marketing campaigns are most effective at increasing brand awareness. Additionally, brand awareness surveys can help businesses track their progress over time and make sure that their branding efforts are paying off.

Brand perception surveys are a type of survey that businesses can use to measure how their customers perceive their brand. This type of survey can help businesses identify any areas where they may need to improve their branding, and it can also help them track the progress of their branding projects over time.

Brand recall surveys are a type of survey used to measure how well a consumer remembers a particular brand. Brands will often want to know whether consumers can think of the brand name without being prompted, and then present a list to see how many people recognise their brand name in a list of competitors. This type of survey is often used by businesses to measure the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

Advertisements on display at Piccadilly Circus in London

But how do you track something like ‘awareness’ in a survey? How realistic is ‘recall’ as a metric? And what do you do with opinions and brand perception? Here are some guides that explain it all in detail:

Consumer profiling surveys

Consumer profiling surveys are a type of survey that is used to build an organization’s understanding of their ideal customers.

This type of survey can be used to determine things such as what products or services a customer might be interested in, what their spending habits are, or what kind of customer they are.

You can use this information to create an ideal customer profile (ICP) or a buyer persona, which will help you create better products, and campaigns that speak to your ideal customers.

Creating buyers personas or consumer profiles without actually talking to your target group, is simply a guessing game.

It’s important you first identify what it is you really want to know about your target audience. Asking about spending behaviors, opinions, or even their hopes and dreams has to be relevant to your research, and you need to do it in the right context.

New product development surveys

A new product development survey is a type of survey that businesses can use to gather feedback about potential new products. You can use this type of survey to gauge interest in a product, collect ideas about features or design and track satisfaction with prototypes.

Which is what cult entertainment experience Secret Cinema did when they got hit by the consequences of Covid-19, and their signature live immersive movie events were put on hold. Instead of waiting for things to pick back up again, they grabbed the bull by the horns and developed a new global digital offering.

Secret Cinema's online movie experience

Secret Cinema’s live shows usually take place in London or Los Angeles, but the brand’s new ‘virtual live’ offering is designed to be enjoyed from anywhere. And they won’t stop doing those, because the world has been changing. They use Attest to figure out exactly what their audience wants to see.

With the gradual reopening of the world, we have had to pivot and we have had to learn new behaviors, some of which are here to stay. Connecting with people online has become part of our behavior now, and it’s going to continue as people work from home and find it a lot easier to connect online.

Ayomi Rupasinghe, Marketing Director, Secret Cinema

See how Secret Cinema pivoted their business successfully despite all the challenges the industry faced.

Creative testing surveys

You can also test other creative concepts with surveys. For instance, when creating new marketing material, fine-tuning your brand’s tone of voice of other branding choices.

You can—should!—even use it for redesigning your website, like The Big Prawn Co. did.

They found that visitors to their website actually didn’t want to see plates of juicy prawns and shellfish—which is what they sell—they wanted imagery of people and fishing. The discovery came about when Claire Evans, Category Manager at The Big Prawn Co. surveyed consumers leading up to a redesign of their website.

“There are consumers that come to the website to look at recipe content, but we also try to explain our position as a company and how we’re sustainably sourcing and all of the CSR we do. Basically, we weren’t speaking to anybody because we’d become too confused. We’d ended up with a website that was trying to be everything to everyone and that was a recipe for disaster.”

Ultimately, all this consumer data helped them redesign their website in a way that helps their business.

It was really invaluable insight that we were able to draw on, and it came from a huge pool of people rather than just being something internal where we all have our own ideas and it’s hard to set those aside. It gave us a really clear understanding of how to make a fit-for-purpose website. 

Claire Evans, Category Manager, The Big Prawn Company

Hungry for more info on what The Big Prawn Company learned and how they did it?

When’s the last time you conducted a survey?

Now’s the time to talk to your customers or target audience again to gather fresh insights and make decisions for your business that give you the upper hand.

Our team of research experts is on standby to help you create the perfect survey. Like to give it a go yourself? Check out all our survey templates!

Learn attitudes and behaviors of your ideal customers

Create surveys yourself—with expert research guidance when you need it—and get consumer insights about your perfect customers

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Survey FAQs

What is the best type of survey method?

This depends largely on your type of research, audience, budget and resources. The most popular survey method is online surveys, because it allows you to reach a large audience and gather results relatively quickly.

What are the benefits of an online survey?

Online surveys offer several benefits over other survey methods. They are cheaper, faster and more accurate than paper surveys, and they reach a larger audience than telephone surveys. Additionally, online surveys can be customized to target specific audiences, and respondents can complete them at their convenience. This makes them an ideal tool for market research and customer experience surveys. Try it for yourself here.

Who uses surveys?

Businesses use surveys to gain insights into customer experiences, market research, and to gauge public opinion on topics. Researchers use surveys to learn about people’s habits and opinions. Pollsters use surveys to predict elections results. Governments use surveys to help make policy decisions. There’s a survey for everyone, and every occasion!

  • How can I analyze online survey results?
  • Some market research tools, including Attest, offer you a dashboard and reporting tools where you can see the results of your survey arrive in real-time. Here you can play around with filters to get a better look at the answers, before you start drawing conclusions.
  • Alexandra Aquino

    Customer Research Principal 

    Alexandra joined Attest in 2018, with a strong background in market research. In the Customer Research Team, Alexandra takes a leading role in supporting brands to uncover consumer insights and explore new opportunities for growth.

    See all articles by Alexandra