Focus Groups vs Surveys
From knowing what you’re doing well and not so well, to getting the information to make the changes you need. When it comes to your business, the feedback you collect from your customers is likely to be one of your most valuable tools.
However, there are different ways of collecting customer feedback and you’ll typically need to decide between two popular approaches, focus groups and online surveys, if you’re to select the one which best meets your objectives.
But how do you know which option is the best fit for you?
Focus group advantages and disadvantages
Having familiarised yourself with focus groups, we’re sure many of you will be keen to start running one yourself.
However, as with any approach, there will be some pros and cons of using focus groups. So, it’s prudent to be fully aware of these and therefore better informed about whether it’s the best method for you to adopt first.
Advantages of focus groups
- Get to hear customers feedback in their own words.
- Observe their body language as you’re asking them questions or getting them to undertake specific tasks
- Uncover fresh ideas and issues that your own internal teams may never have considered but are crucial to your customer.
- Gain the flexibility to quickly dive deeper into any issues that may come up during your discussions.
Disadvantages of focus groups
- Much more expensive to run than surveys, due to expenses including, but not limited to recruiting participants, rental of premises to run the research, hire of interviewer and/or agency fees, compensation for participation, etc.
- Risk of receiving skewed and biased results, if you have outspoken participants who dominate group discussions and try to influence others.
- Difficulties in recruiting qualified participants due to budgetary and time commitments.
- It can take significant time and effort to plan, organise and run group sessions and then analyse all the feedback
Survey advantages and disadvantages
Similar to focus groups, while there are lots of benefits to be gained from using online surveys, there are some drawbacks. So, again, it’s useful to be aware of these before deciding on the best approach for your next piece of research.
Advantages of surveys
- Gain feedback quickly. Depending on the length of your survey and your number of respondents, you could conceivably get your results within one to two days.
- Benchmark your ongoing performance with the structured and consistent format of an online survey, which you can issue and resend at measured intervals over time.
- Gain more candid answers, as surveys allow respondents to provide feedback in a more private, anonymous setting.
- Quickly reach more than one type of customer simultaneously.
- Swiftly analyse and report on your data with the innovative and wide-ranging tools that are typically provided with online survey software.
Disadvantages of surveys
- Unless you’ve used a lot of open-ended questions, you’ll struggle to get any really in-depth insight about how and why respondents feel the way they do.
- Unlike with focus groups, if you think of any additional questions you would like to ask once you’ve issued your survey, you’ll need to ask these in a follow-up survey.
- Unless you’ve included an ‘other’ text box, your respondents may not have a way to proactively provide feedback on issues not included in your survey.
In conclusion: Focus groups vs surveys
We hope you enjoyed reading this blog and if you were not already, feel better informed about focus groups and online surveys.
However, if you’re still a little unsure about when it’s best to use the focus group or online survey approach, a good place to start is to think about the questions you need answering, as once you’ve drafted them this should become a lot clearer.
If you can see that it’s your customers inner thoughts that you’re after and you need a more flexible, open-ended approach to get this, then a focus group is probably your best option.
Alternatively, if you need some conclusive statistical data to help support a hypothesis or any other initiative you’re looking to carry out, the faster and more direct approach of online surveys is the better route to pursue.