What is a survey?

Encuesta | Survey | Inquérito
Redacción 7m of reading

We all have a clear idea of what a survey is, but often we have doubts when it comes to creating one. Let’s review the fundamental concepts and some practical details that will help you create your surveys with confidence and certainty.

Survey Definition

A survey is a quantitative research technique in which a group of people is interviewed through a questionnaire to gather their opinions, habits, attitudes, and overall viewpoints. The great utility of surveys is that by conducting interviews with a relatively small group of people, the results can be extrapolated to the entire population they represent.

Surveys are used by companies to understand the needs of their target audience and anticipate the success of different proposals when they are launched in the market. Surveys are also used by public organizations and political parties to collect information about opinions, preferences, and policy assessments.

Surveys help obtain information that aids in making decisions with precise knowledge of the interviewees’ opinions and, therefore, the population they represent.

Essential Elements of a Survey

A survey consists of the following elements that you need to define:

  • Universe: This is the target population of the study. Sometimes it can be very broad, such as the population residing in a country, or more specific, like a company’s customer base. In any case, the universe is the group you want to understand through the survey.
  • Sample: It is the set of people you will interview and who will represent the study universe. Choosing and calculating the sample size is one of the most delicate aspects of a survey, and that’s why we have a specific post to help you. When conducting a survey, you may have access to the study population through your databases (e.g., customers or employees). When interviewing consumers through an online market study, it’s common to have people who are part of a consumer panel and participate in surveys regularly.
  • Questionnaire: It is the set of questions you want to ask the sample to obtain the necessary information. Creating a questionnaire from scratch can be easy, but sometimes you’ll want to use questionnaire templates to ensure that you include the most common questions for each type of need. Our customer support team has questionnaire templates for every type of study. Contact us for more information.
  • Data Collection Technique. The vast majority of surveys nowadays are conducted online, but they can also be done over the phone or in person when it’s easier to access the target sample. Find more details later in this post.
  • Tables. Once the data has been collected, it must be summarized in weighted and extrapolated statistical tables to faithfully represent the study population. The tables include the frequencies of each response and the percentages they represent in the study population. Typically, tables are cross-referenced by various sociodemographic data and other possible variables for analysis. That’s why statistical tables are sometimes also called cross-tabulations.
  • Results Report. With the tables, data analysis is performed to create the results report. A research platform like We are testers generates a results report in graphical form, making it easier to read and more intuitive than statistical tables.

Types of Surveys by Data Collection Technique

There are different data collection techniques for market research studies:

  • Personal Surveys / CAPI. These are surveys where the interviewer approaches us on the street or visits our home to invite us to participate. Personal surveys are very common, for example, in electoral studies – the famous exit polls – or, for instance, when leaving establishments to gather information about our experience. Generally, personal interviewers use tablets or similar devices to record responses digitally. These surveys are also called CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interview).
  • Telephone Surveys. These surveys are conducted over the phone. An interviewer contacts us and invites us to answer some questions. Interviewers usually use an assistance system to collect data from telephone surveys, so they are often referred to as CATI surveys (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview).
  • Online Surveys. These are surveys conducted over the internet, either on a computer or a mobile device. At We are testers, we specialize in online market studies and can help you create your own online surveys.
  • Mobile Surveys. These are a particular type of online surveys. Mobile surveys are conducted through the respondent’s mobile phone and have numerous advantages in terms of representativeness and speed compared to surveys conducted on a computer.

Types of Surveys by Theme

There are many types of surveys based on the objectives they aim to achieve. Some common types of surveys include:

  • Customer Satisfaction Survey: These surveys evaluate the level of satisfaction of a company’s customers and delve into the reasons or areas of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The customer satisfaction survey is a fundamental tool for customer service and customer experience (CX) teams.
  • Employee Engagement Survey: It measures the level of satisfaction of the employee base with the company they work for. The employee engagement survey is commonly used as a continuous tool for measuring employee satisfaction and becomes especially important in times of increased tension, such as during the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are many other types of surveys, and we can help you create yours, whatever your objective may be. Contact us to learn more.

Special Types of Surveys

There are some specific types of surveys that may be interesting to know:

  • International Surveys: These are surveys conducted in different countries. International surveys apply the same questionnaire to a sample in each country, and then the results can be compared to find similarities and differences between countries.
  • Omnibus Surveys: This is a specific type of survey in which clients contract questions to be added to a common questionnaire. Omnibus surveys are efficient and agile because clients share some of the fieldwork costs. Omnibus studies are on the decline due to the development of research platforms.

How to Create a Survey?

We summarize in simple steps how to conduct a survey:

  • 1. Define what you want to evaluate (Objectives). Reflect on what you need to know about the market and consumers to improve your product and service offerings and, in turn, increase sales. If, for example, your business is considering launching a new product to the market, you might conduct a survey with objectives like: assessing the acceptance of the new product, understanding consumer preferences, determining what they would be willing to pay for it, and gauging potential demand.
  • 2. Design the questionnaire (questions). Once you’ve defined the objectives, proceed to identify the information and opinions to collect to design the survey. If the goal is to understand the demand and acceptance of a new product, the information to collect should focus on questions about consumer purchase intentions, frequency of purchases, preferences compared to similar products, average spending on similar products, etc. If you’re creating the questionnaire yourself, here are some tips for creating effective questionnaires.
  • 3. Choose the sample (target audience). Last but not least, you need to define who you would like to respond to the survey. To do this, consider your target audience and any segmentation you want to apply to it: specific age range, gender, place of residence, purchasing power, family structure, etc. You can easily access the sample you need for your market research through a consumer panel.
  • 4. Choose the data collection methodology. If you’re conducting an online study, you have the option to either hire a service or conduct the study yourself through a market research platform. The latter option is usually more efficient, and you’ll have a team of experts to assist you every step of the way.

Now you know how to create your own survey in a few steps.

Do you want to create your own survey? Contact us, and we will help you do it easily.


Update date 15 April, 2024

Get in touch with our experts and discover how to take your research further.