New Ways to Ask Quantitative Research Questions In Online Surveys

Are you still unsure when you should be using a quantitative or a qualitative question in your survey?

My last article, Does your Consumer Survey Data Paint The Whole Picture, explored the differences between the two question types but here is the short version:

  • Qualitative questions will tell you Why.
  • Quantitative questions will tell you Who and What.

Quantitative questions are easier to measure and easier for survey takers to answer. Qualitative questions on the other hand, are subjective and harder to measure. They are also harder for survey-takers to answer and can cause survey fatigue.

Qualitative questions (like open textboxes or essay questions) are great for the exploratory phase of your research project or to delve deeper into a matter, but you want to use them sparingly. Don’t tire your survey-takers or yourself. Trying to analyze essay question answers to find a common theme can be arduous and time consuming.

If you need hard statistics or quantifiable numbers, use quantitative questions. You can assign numeric values for easy, objective measurement and comparison.

Quantitative questions are close-ended which makes them easy to answer. You can ask a lot of these questions without tiring survey respondents. But you’ll want to mix up the question types to keep your survey interesting and your respondents engaged.

In this article we will explore the different ways to ask quantitative questions in your online survey.

How to Phrase Quantitative Questions

Quantitative questions typically start with how or what. Some common leading phrases include:

  • How many?
  • How often?
  • How frequently?
  • How much?
  • What percentage?
  • What proportion?
  • To what extent?
  • What is?
  • What are?

Here are some quantitative question examples:

  • How many text messages do you send a day?
  • How frequently do you text while driving?
  • How often do you send text messages while at work?

Be sure to identify all of the variables that might affect the outcome. Also be sure to include all of the groups you are interested in. Neglecting to recognize variables and groups involved will create gaps in your data that will make it hard for you to base sound decisions on.

In the example above, work and driving are variables that likely alter texting behavior. In this example, I would also collect demographic information such as age, gender, and job function so I could compare texting habits between these groups.

How to Use Quantitative Questions

Use these versatile questions more effectively in your next survey project with our detailed guide!

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Quantitative Question Types

Most online survey tools offer an array of answer formats. This is good news, as these various options will engage your customers and reduce survey fatigue.

Mix up these close-ended question types to increase your response rate:

  • Radio Buttons
    This standard question type is the most common single-select question type. Unlike checkboxes, respondents can only choose one answer option. These are typical yes/no, true/false, either/or answer options. Perhaps you only want to know the single most important feature your customers love.

    Radio Button Example:

  • Checkboxes
    This is another old standard and is the most common multi-select answer question type. It allows respondents to select all of the answer options that apply. An example would be if you wanted to allow your customers to select all of their favorite features.

    Checkbox Example:
    Checkbox question type example

  • Drop Down Menus
    These can be configured to be single or multi select answer option. These are great if you have a long list of answer options but don’t want your survey to appear lengthy.

    Drop Down Menu Example:

  • Drag and Drop
    This newer question format is very interactive. Engage your customers by allowing them to rank answer options dragging and dropping answers in the order they choose.

    Drag and Drop Example:

  • Likert Scale
    This rating scale makes it easy for customers to rate their answer and easy for you to evaluate. The numeric reporting scale can be customized. A scale of 1-5 or 1-10 are the most popular reporting options.The answer options apppear as radio buttons.

    Likert Scale Example:

  • Slider Scale
    The sliding scale question type can be configured as a single-select or multi-select question type. It is another great option for allowing customers to rate their response on a sliding scale. You can choose the scale and label them. These are engaging and fun.

    Sliding Scale Example:

  • Star Ranking
    The Star Ranking question allows customers to rate criteria based on different categories defined by the row and column headers. Each star represents an equivalent numeric value and typically ranges from 1 to 5. tar ranking Is great for rating books and movie but should be used with caution as they tend to create a positive bias.

    Star Ranking Example:

  • NPS
    The Net Promoter Score allows you to gauge customer loyalty. According to industry standards, a 0 -10 scale is used to ask customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service. A score is automatically determined based on the percentage of promoters less the percent of detractors.

    Net Promoter Score Example:

  • Image Select
    This question type can be configured to be a single or multi-select answer option. Respondents select an image answer based on a set of set of images. This is great for your market research surveys where you would like respondents to choose which image they find most appealing.

    Image Select Example:

  • Matrix
    These tables can be configured as a single answer or multiple answer option. Columns are set up as categories with the answer options appearing in the rows. These are great for condensing your survey when categories have the same answer option. They allow you to get the answers as one question rather than setting up multiple questions.

    Matrix Example:

Considerations When Choosing Quantitative Question Types

While it is nice to vary your question types to keep respondents interested, it is important to consider the reporting options. Some question types report in bar and pie charts where others may not. Always test your survey and check the reports to ensure you are collecting the data in the format that best suits your needs.

Also consider the type of device your respondents will be using. Interactive question types are engaging but may not be reliable on all mobile devices. Long matrix tables can be frustrating on a mobile device since the radio buttons or checkboxes are small. Image select questions may not render properly or take too long to load.

Use “Other” as Answer Option When Necessary

Hopefully you have considered all of the relevant answer options when crafting your quantitative question. Of course, it is now always possible to include every answer option.

If you are fearful of not including an answer option, use an “Other” answer choice and provide a textbox so respondents can specify the alternative. These are easy to setup when using a radio button or checkbox question type.

If your question is well designed, the “Other” answer option should be the exception rather than the rule. Analyzing the textbox information should not be too arduous since there are likely only a few of them. If more than 50% selected “Other “ as the answer option than perhaps you needed to do some exploratory research.

Quantifiable Results

So there you have it; 10 different quantitative question types that will keep your survey interesting and your respondents engaged. But the best part is that you will have quantifiable data that you can act on!

Related Articles:
Does You Consumer Survey Data Paint The Whole Picture: When to Use Qualitative Vs. Quantitative Research Questions
Quantitative Vs. Qualitative Research – When to Use Which
Using Qualitative Exploration To Create Quantitative Surveys
Using Highly Interactive Questions In Online Surveys

Tell us which new question types you have recently explored and whether they have increased your response rate!

Written by

Sandy McKee

Sandy McKee is a digital marketer with over 10 years of experience in SEM, SEO, and social media marketing. She is a lover of books, fine food, and a mother of 2.

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