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Advantages and disadvantages of using mail questionnaires

Describe about the Survey Questionnaire Analysis?

Dillman et al. (2014) opined that using online mail questionnaires enables the researcher to collect data from a large volume of respondents and it saves the conveyance cost, printing cost and other survey costs. However, Mooi and Sarstedt (2011) argued that the use of online questionnaire suggests that the researcher is sample biased. The researcher is thus targeting only the part of population who are using internet services. However Janssen et al. (2010) contradicted by claiming that mail questionnaires generate more respondents as they can be quickly completed. The mail questionnaires have to be framed in a short structure because the long length of the questionnaire may result in crashing of the system or non-response from the respondents. Moreover, data security is also important in case of surveys. However, in mail surveys it is not possible to maintain the security of the respondents. The response collected from a mail survey is of low quality and if the respondent is literally not strong then the response will not be correct.

Nicki can adopt the following measures in order to increase the response rate of the mail surveys

Setting target – Rather than targeting the mass respondents Nicki should target the group of respondents who he personally knows. For instance, Nicki can target the university students, teachers and alumni members (Rossi et al. 2013).

Personalizing the email invitations - Direct and personal invitation from Nicki to the target respondent will result in prompt response from the recipient.

Short and informative introduction – Nicki needs to give a short introduction that will include only the important points like personal information of Nicki, purpose of the study, time length  of the survey and benefit of the survey (Wilson, 2011).

Avoid graphics and keep length short- In order to generate response Nicki should keep the length short and should avoid any kind of designer computer graphics because that would distract the respondent (Frazer and Lawley, 2001).

Sending of reminder emails - Continuous probing by the surveyor will force the respondent to eventually respond to the mail questionnaire. Thus, Nicki should keep on sending reminder mails about the response to the targeted respondents.

Dörnyei and Taguchi (2010) opined that an introduction of a mail questionnaire should include the following concepts namely a thank you statement to welcome the participation of the respondents, topic of survey, expected time of completion and confidentiality statement. Keeping in mind these factors following will be an ideal introduction for Nicki’s survey.

Dear Respondent (Mention the name)

Welcome to the Business Information Technology online shopping survey

I, Nicki Sorensen, a final year student of BIT is conducting a survey on online shopping services. Thank you for agreeing to take part in this survey. This project aims at gaining your thoughts and opinions in order to better serve you in future. The survey will take only 10 minutes to complete. Be assured that confidentiality and ethics will be maintained in case of all your answers. Click next to begin the survey.

Methods to increase the response rates of mail questionnaires

Thanks and regards

Nicki Sorensen

4a. Discussion on different viewpoints

In framing the personal questions in a mail questionnaire, the researchers either put the questions in the beginning or put the questions at the end. However, different researcher has different viewpoints for the same. Leece et al. (2004) feels that since the response rate of mail questionnaires are low hence the surveyor should include the personal questions at the end so that the respondents are able to solve the easier part at the beginning and deal with the personal part later. Further Heerwegh and Loosveldt (2008) commented that the initial use of the personal questions might generate a sense of rejection of resentment on the part of the respondent. However, in case of certain surveys there is a recruitment questionnaire. Barrios et al. (2010) stated that a recruitment questionnaire is the type of questionnaire that includes only personal questions about the respondents.  In these types of surveys if the respondent profile matches the required profile of the research only then the researcher progresses with the survey. Hence, in such cases the personal information question should be included in the beginning of the survey. Thus if the surveyor is conducting a survey based on focus group interview then the survey will include the personal questions at the beginning.

4b. Recommendations

In case of online or mail surveys the use of focus group survey is difficult because if the respondent profile do not match the profile of the researcher than the researcher will have to terminate the research and since the respondent is not physically present hence the termination is not possible. Hence, in this case it is advisable to include personal information at the end of the questionnaire so that the reluctant part of the survey is included at the end. The mail questionnaires generate low responses and since the survey is about online shopping experience hence the researcher should give more stress on the customer satisfaction surveys rather than on the personal information. Hence, to avoid non-response on the part of the majority of the respondents the researcher should include the personal questions at the end.

The research question requires being mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive in nature. According to Phillips (2011) the individual answers mentioned as options in the survey questionnaire cannot be true at the same time. Hence, the answers mentioned in the survey options needs to be exclusive to each other. Moreover, the answer options mentioned should cover the overall possibilities of answers that can exist for the particular question. Otherwise, the researcher will not get the overall view of the survey. If the researcher frame questions keeping in mind the above two factors, then the questionnaire will be accurate and complete.

In the sample questionnaire, certain flaws may be noticed. In question number 4, the researcher did not include all possible places for accessing of internet like cyber cafes. Hence, it is not collectively exhaustive. However, Nicki maintains mutual exclusiveness in his questions. Especially in question 1, 3, 5, 6, 9 and 10 the mutual exclusiveness has been maintained by grouping the numbers exclusively. Moreover, the direct yes no option in the question 8 shows a mutual exclusivity in the questionnaire preparation (Van Gelder et al. 2010).

Evaluation of introduction part of Nicki’s questionnaires

According to Silverman (2010) the surveyor should include neutral words and should avoid leading questions in a questionnaire. For instance in question 5, Nicki should avoid the direct tone and frame the question using “How often do you engage in online activities in a week?”
Since this is a mail survey, hence it is advisable to avoid open-ended questions like question number 7, 11, 12 and 13. These questions should also be framed in closed ended questions for better response. Housden (2010) opined that majority of the respondents do not like to write in details. Hence, avoidance of open-ended questions will generate more responses. In the use of the likert scale it is advisable to use the options – strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree and strongly disagree. However, in the questionnaire Nicki has use the options “slightly agree”, “slightly disagree” instead of “agree”, and “disagree”. The use of slightly agree and slightly disagree will make the decision difficult for the respondents. They will be confused whether to agree or be neutral in their opinion. Hence, the likert scale needs modifications. Finally, the structuring of the options is not correct. In question five and six, Nicki should have arranged the answers in ascending order so that it becomes easy to interpret.  In the current structure, the respondents will have difficulty and the confusion will make it time consuming for the respondents to give correct responses (Malhotra et al. 2007).

According to Lindhjem and Navrud (2011) following are the advantages of face-to-face interviews

Accurate data – The respondent being interviewed directly has less scope of providing inaccurate data. The responses are true, accurate and leading in the right direction. Hence, the researcher will be able to make an accurate analysis.

High response rate - The response rates of the face-to-face interviews are higher than the online interviews. The respondent finds it difficult to avoid the surveys if they are approached directly and are forced to answer either willingly or unwillingly (Fan and Yan, 2010).

Access to verbal and non-verbal response - The surveyor has the option to capture not only the verbal response but also the non-verbal and facial expression of the respondent related to the survey. The body language during the response helps the surveyor to understand the actual emotions and reactions related to the survey topic.

However, there are certain disadvantages of face-to-face interviews as well.

Financial constraint – The surveyor will have to incur high conveyance cost, printing cost and other survey costs like employing more surveyors for the process. Thus if the surveyor is a student or small organization, face-to-face interview may be difficult.

Time consuming – This process is time consuming. The surveyor will have to collect the data personally then make manual entries of the data in SPSS or excels so that the analysis can be completed. Hence, the research work takes more time to get completed (Hanna, 2012).

Limited sample size – The sample size of the project gets limited, as the researcher will not be able to cover a large mass of respondents for the interviews.


Barrios, M., Villarroya, A., Borrego, Á., and Ollé, C. (2010). Response rates and data quality in web and mail surveys administered to PhD holders. Social Science Computer Review.

Dillman, D. A., Smyth, J. D., and Christian, L. M. (2014). Internet, phone, mail, and mixed-mode surveys: the tailored design method. John Wiley & Sons.

Dörnyei, Z., and Taguchi, T. (2010). Questionnaires in second language research: Construction, administration, and processing. Routledge.

Fan, W., and Yan, Z. (2010). Factors affecting response rates of the web survey: A systematic review. Computers in Human Behavior26(2), 132-139.

Frazer, L., and Lawley, M. (2001). Questionnaire design and administration. Wiley.

Hanna, P. (2012). Using internet technologies (such as Skype) as a research medium: a research note. Qualitative Research12(2), 239-242.

Heerwegh, D., and Loosveldt, G. (2008). Face-to-face versus web surveying in a high-internet-coverage population differences in response quality. Public Opinion Quarterly72(5), 836-846.

Housden, M. (2010). Market information and research. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Janssen, P. M., Visser, N. A., Dorhout, M. S., Klijn, C. J., Algra, A., and Rinkel, G. J. (2010). Comparison of telephone and face-to-face assessment of the modified Rankin Scale. Cerebrovascular diseases (Basel, Switzerland)29(2), 137-139.

Leece, P., Bhandari, M., Sprague, S., Swiontkowski, M. F., Schemitsch, E. H., Tornetta III, P., ... and Guyatt, G. H. (2004). Internet versus mailed questionnaires: a controlled comparison (2). Journal of medical Internet research6(4).

Lindhjem, H., and Navrud, S. (2011). Are Internet surveys an alternative to face-to-face interviews in contingent valuation?. Ecological economics70(9), 1628-1637.

Malhotra, N. K., Birks, D. F., Palmer, A., and Koenig-Lewis, N. (2007). Market research: an applied approach. Journal of marketing management27, 1208-1213.

Mooi, E., and Sarstedt, M. (2011). A concise guide to market research: The process, data, and methods using IBM SPSS statistics. Springer Science & Business Media.

Phillips, A. (2011). A marginalised future for market research?. International Journal of Market Research, 53(6), p.735.

Rossi, P. H., Wright, J. D., and Anderson, A. B. (Eds.). (2013). Handbook of survey research. Academic Press.

Silverman, D. (Ed.). (2010). Qualitative research. Sage.

Van Gelder, M. M., Bretveld, R. W., and Roeleveld, N. (2010). Web-based questionnaires: the future in epidemiology?. American Journal of Epidemiology, kwq291.

Wilson, A. (2011). Marketing research: an integrated approach 3rd edition (No. 3rd). FT Prentice Hall.

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