The popularity of online surveys: we're all market researchers now

Probably the best known online survey company, Survey Monkey, announced in 2015 that it had reached 25 million users. Remember this is a survey tool provider, not a social network or viral publisher!

The 25 million users had grown from 14 million two years previously. It also says it processes 90 million responses every month.

These are phenomenal numbers and dwarf the activity of the leading international market research agencies.

Of course, most Survey Monkey users are taking advantage of the (very limited) free plan. But the numbers show just how ubiquitous online surveys and research have become. I know that barely a day seems to go by without a survey or poll popping up in my Facebook or Twitter feed or during an online browsing session.

Whether it’s a friend on Facebook trying to assess the appeal for their new business idea or a club looking for consensus on how they should allocate their funds for the year, online surveys have invaded every aspect of our lives.

It’s the same with any skill though. Put a tool in the hands of someone without training or knowledge and you’ll always risk some issue or other.

In the case of market research, are you targeting the right audience and asking the right questions? If it’s just a simple poll among friends to choose a restaurant for dinner, the worst that can happen is that you end up eating pizza instead of tapas.

But if you’re a business looking to assess the appeal of a new product proposition and you don’t fully understand how bias and inconsistent questioning can impact your results, you can risk making the wrong decision.

Ultimately, a faulty online survey can pose a risk to your bottom line.