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Three Types of Survey Research & How to Get The Most Out of Your Method-of-Choice

By January 14, 2022No Comments
Person sitting holding a tablet and swiping through an online customer survey.

Surveys are a fantastic tool for collecting market research. For one, they’re incredibly malleable, able to stand up to large and small sample groups alike. They can also be highly versatile, giving researchers the ability to craft specific questions and tailor surveys based on target market segments for more accurate insight. Surveys can also be incredibly fast and have a quick turnaround, allowing researchers to collect information from a snapshot in present time or gather insights from the past.

Needless to say, using survey data to make calculated marketing moves goes a long way, and there are certain considerations organizations need to make in order to choose the right type of survey method for their research needs. Read on to discover the three different types of survey methods and how insights teams can get the most out of their research method of choice.

What Is Survey Research?

Survey research is a quantitative market research method designed to collect data and information from survey participants. Insights teams can conduct survey research digitally, in-person, or by mail, depending on the research need, and craft questions in a way to elicit certain responses, discover new issues and solutions. To further user insights, KnowledgeHound has integrations with platforms such as Qualtrics and SurveyMonkey, among others.

Conducting research via survey is often low cost and questions can vary in their design to be open-ended and generic or very focused and specific. Depending on the type of survey method, researchers can use survey data to make comparisons or explore new ideas to deepen their understanding of their target market and the individuals that use their products everyday.

Surveys can aid in a variety of research methods from exploratory studies to research efforts that focus on the quantifiable data of a participant pool. But crafting effective surveys for the three different types of research methods requires understanding their different purposes and the type of insight they provide.

Exploratory Survey Research

An exploratory survey research method is almost exactly as it sounds, it’s a research method designed to explore a subject, a research context, or an idea that isn’t fully fleshed out. It’s a terrific research method for exploring a new topic or issue that doesn’t have a ton of data already attached to it. Think about exploratory research as a means to create a hypothesis as opposed to defending a well-established idea. 

The purpose of exploratory research is preliminary by nature and can appear in many different mediums and settings in market research. For instance, some exploratory research is conducted in-person in focus groups and interviews. Conversely, it also has its place online in the form of surveys, case studies, and questionnaires, in which case, it becomes very important for researchers to craft effective questions so insights teams can get the most out of online participants.

Because exploratory research is so connected to discovery, it is a very flexible type of study. As a type of survey research, exploratory surveys will often feature open-ended questions and avoid quantifiable, definitive answers like descriptive research. By allowing respondents to fill in their answers with little influence from the research team, this creates a fantastic opportunity for researchers to tap into the unexplored areas of market research or build a hypothesis. 

Predictive Survey Research

If exploratory research is designed to help teams form a hypothesis, predictive surveys are built to test that hypothesis. This second type of survey research is known as predictive survey research, or, causal survey research and it is primarily used by researchers to determine a cause and effect between variables.

As we mentioned, the purpose of predictive survey research is to determine an effect. To create a predictive survey, the first step is to formulate a purpose-driven question to predict the outcome of a hypothesis. For example, if a vitamin company wanted to introduce a new CBD product to their line of sleep aids (purpose), the organization might ask questions that gauge the target market’s interest in CBD (question) in order to increase company-wide sleep aid product sales (hypothesis). 

After collecting this data from the target market online, the vitamin supplier could then run an in-store experiment to see if sleep aids experienced better sales in stores with the CBD product versus stores without. This is a great research device for testing a potential outcome, and surveys are a fantastic medium for placing those preliminary cause and effect questions in front of a target market.

Descriptive Survey Research

Descriptive research, also known as statistical research, is more straightforward than the previous two research methods. Descriptive research deals almost exclusively in statistics and the quantifiable data from a participation pool. In a lot of ways, descriptive research is the antithesis of exploratory research because it is very structured and methodical and it ultimately leads to conclusions.

As a type of survey method, descriptive studies primarily focus on multiple choice questions to define a behavior, attitude, or opinion of a group about any given subject. This type of research method is very straightforward and conclusive and is a great device for testing the ways a target market’s opinions and attitudes change over time. 

KnowledgeHound Helps Unpack Insights From Every Type of Survey Method

If your insights team needs access to survey data, KnowledgeHound can streamline the process of gathering, analyzing, and sharing that data with everyone on your team. Simply conduct a search like “CBD” and KnowledgeHound will pull all relevant survey data from your data repository so you can conduct comparative studies or perform exploratory outreach in areas where more insight is needed. 

Then, when you’ve compiled data cuts relevant to your area of focus, KnowledgeHound’s easy-to-use interface allows you to move variables to mold that data like clay—everything is right at your fingertips. With precision and flexibility, KnowledgeHound makes any type of survey research palatable and approachable for researchers of every experience level. Find out more about the exciting features included in KnoweldgeHound’s new analytics experience.