Online questionnaires

Questionnaires developed and administered online through e-mail on the Internet are becoming increasingly popular in certain markets. The dot-com sector is a major user of this type of questionnaire. However, as the Internet becomes ubiquitous other business sectors are adopting the methodology, exploiting the advantages that this mode of delivery offers. They are cheap and fast to prepare and to administer, and results may be gained very quickly. In addition, the use of hypertext mark-up language (HTML) can create links to help areas for respondents completing self-administered questionnaires, or to video or other audio visual content to support the questionnaire. This means that if respondents have questions they can click on a link that takes them to a site which contains supporting information, or send an e-mail to the researcher asking for help.

Questionnaires can be delivered to potential respondents in a number of ways. They can be sent through a link from a website, as an attachment to an e-mail or as an e-mail, or as a pop-up or an interstitial; this may be triggered by browser behaviour, e.g. a visit to a site post-

purchase may drive a pop-up questionnaire to monitor satisfaction with the process. This is generated automatically as a result of a browser's actions and is known as an interstitial or a pop-up as it appears or pops up between the words or images on a site.

A major concern is that a user's browser may not support content-rich questionnaires and this will reduce or distort response.

There are major issues around certain providers of online research services. The online market is beset by the sending of unsolicited e-mail material, also known as spam. Those organizations that abide by the industry codes of conduct and are members of the Market Research Society are reputable, and should provide a methodogically sound solution to the design, delivery and analysis of online questionnaires.

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