Within a so-called hybrid survey, various survey methods are used simultaneously. The mix of written, telephone, online-based or oral surveys ensures that the largest possible target group is reached and served. Especially in the case of very heterogeneous recipients, the use of several types of surveys is a good way of achieving a high response rate.
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The challenge of heterogeneity
Heterogeneity may be the result of real local circumstances or varying preferences of respondents. For instance, if you wish to conduct a company-wide employee survey, the following challenges may arise:
- The majority of employees work in production or travel frequently and therefore have no or at least no regular access to the Internet.
- The target group cannot be reached online due to their age or personal preferences.
- This means that there are no e-mail addresses that could be used to invite people to an online survey.
The best solution to reach as many people and employees as possible is often a combined version of an online and a paper-pencil survey. While one part of the workforce completes the survey in the classical way on paper and either sends it back by standard mail or casts it into ballot boxes installed in the company, the other part completes the survey on the Internet. Here, too, there are two approaches: On the one hand, the survey can be completed online at any end device, for instance at the office computer or via the smartphone of the respective addressee. On the other hand, it makes sense to set up an online terminal at the company, where recipients who do not have a mobile terminal or a company computer can also digitally process the survey. Getting as few paper questionnaires and as many digital answers as possible saves time, personnel and costs.
The advantages of a hybrid survey
The mixed online and paper-based variant offers at least three advantages:
- Extended reach: The broadest possible public is reached, which makes the results more meaningful and reliable.
- Higher acceptance: The participant may decide for himself/herself how he/she wishes to take part in the survey.
- Higher return: Responding to the preferences of the target group can lead to a higher response rate.
What has to be considered during the implementation?
Whether on paper or online – the procedures for creation and execution do not differ significantly from each other. In the case of a hybrid survey, the invitations are sent by e-mail and the printed questionnaires by standard mail at the same time. It makes sense to integrate a link to online participation in the paper version as well, so that last-minute participants can still switch to digital processing, as for example at terminals provided for this purpose. The processing period for online and paper versions is the same. Needless to say, the contents also have to be the same!
Finally, the evaluation requires a manual transfer of the paper data into a common database with the online answers. This is followed by the analysis of all data and their presentation.
Further forms of hybrid surveys
As mentioned earlier, there are also combinations of telephone and online surveys. This also serves the goal of reaching as many respondents as possible and ensuring a high response rate. Classically, a target group is first contacted by telephone and motivated to participate in an online survey during the telephone call; or it is followed up by telephone after an online survey has been shown in order to win even more customers for the answer. The inclusion of written elements in a face-to-face survey also falls into the category of hybrid surveys.
Don't spare any effort!
Whatever forms of survey, are combined, it is always a question of maximising the utilisation rate. If survey participants are allowed to determine the time, place and type of survey according to their preferences, a higher level of commitment and more authentic response behaviour can also be expected. It is true that a hybrid survey is more complex than a purely online survey – but when it comes to reaching as large a target group as possible or as many employees of a company as possible, the benefits often outweigh the additional work and costs.
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