Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Surveys

The utilization of online surveys for data collection comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, which can significantly impact the effectiveness and reliability of survey results.


1. Cost-Efficiency:
Online surveys are cost-effective, requiring significantly less expenditure compared to phone or postal mail surveys. Sending email surveys is particularly budget-friendly.

2. Higher Incidence Rate:
Online and email surveys tend to have a higher incidence rate than other methods. Respondents are more likely to participate since they can complete the survey at their convenience, unlike phone surveys. The ease of filling out and returning an email survey further contributes to higher response rates.

3. Access to Existing Contacts:
Companies can leverage their existing customer contact lists, often gathered through email newsletter sign-ups, to target specific groups for surveys.

4. Software Tools:
Various software programs are available to facilitate the creation and distribution of online surveys, streamlining the process for businesses.

5. Subtle Promotion:
Surveys can serve as effective promotional tools for products or services. By incorporating questions that highlight positive attributes, companies can create positive associations in consumers' minds. Additionally, polling existing customers can act as a reminder of products they already like but may have momentarily forgotten.


1. Survey Fraud:
The primary disadvantage of online surveys is the risk of survey fraud. The reliability of survey statistics depends on maintaining panel integrity to ensure genuine responses.

2. Preventive Measures for Survey Fraud:

  • To counteract survey fraud, several security measures can be implemented:
  • Invitation-Only: Ensure that participants receive email invitations for surveys, allowing verification of contact information.
  • Require Mailing Address: Request mailing addresses for sending rewards, reducing the likelihood of cheaters.
  • Minimum Time Frame: Set a minimum time requirement for completing a survey to deter hasty, random responses.
  • Block "Straight Line" Answers: Automatically eliminate surveys with identical answers for all questions.
  • Block IP Addresses: Block the IP addresses of individuals caught cheating, preventing future survey submissions. Limit the number of surveys allowed from a single IP address to reduce multiple submissions.
  • Demographic Consistency: Begin the survey with demographic questions and follow up with demographic-profiling questions to verify the respondent's demographic information. Inconsistencies should lead to the blocking of users.
  • Open-Ended Questions: Include open-ended, essay-type questions that require thoughtful responses, as cheaters are less likely to provide multiple, significantly different answers to such questions.

In conclusion, online surveys offer a cost-effective and efficient data collection method with high response rates. However, ensuring the integrity of survey panels is essential to maintain the accuracy and reliability of survey results, given the potential for fraudulent activities.