Pros & Cons of Different Data Collection Methods: Polls, Surveys, & Questionnaires

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There are tons of different data collection methods out there for you to choose from. Whether it’s a poll, survey, or questionnaire, it’s likely that you’ll never find yourself out of ideas when it comes to understanding your audience.

With so many great methods for data collection out there, how are you meant to choose the best one for your needs? We’ve broken down polls, surveys, and questionnaires and weighed the pros and cons so you don’t have to!

What’s the Main Difference Data Collection Methods?

While polls, surveys, and questionnaires have some similarities. They’re also very different! Those differences could influence your decision when it comes to choosing one of the data collection methods over the other. Let’s explore!


A poll can be described as a type of survey that asks participants one simple question. Demographics aren’t usually collected with polls as they only include the one question, but the option for multiple-choice makes them great for quick selection. Polls are especially easy for audience members to participate in.


Surveys tend to go a little more in depth than polls. You can ask detailed questions and are given more flexibility when it comes to the length and style of your questions.

You’ll generally have the ability to collect more data to analyze when distributing a survey. Although they’re not usually as quick for your audience to participate in.


A questionnaire is actually usually a part of a survey. The main difference between a questionnaire and a survey is that a survey asks questions. A questionnaire on the other hand is a set of written questions.

Questionnaires aren’t usually focused around delivery methods, but are more so used when it comes to collecting information. They get straight to the point of collecting the information needed rather than trying to collect data that can later be analyzed. 

Why Use Polls?

Polls are particularly useful when you want quick results. While you won’t get a ton of information, you’ll get it quickly which can be especially helpful if you’re dealing with a time crunch.

These days anyone can put a poll out to the public as technology makes it easy to distribute them.

Tips for Creating Poll Questions

It’s best to keep things simple when it comes to your poll. It should be easy for your respondents to understand what you’re asking and for them to be able to click one answer without having to interpret the options you’re providing to them.

It’s also a good idea to limit multiple-choice questions as people tend to give less thought to their answers when there’s an abundance to choose from.

Why Use Surveys?

Surveys are great for collecting more detailed feedback from participants. This makes them one of the best data collection methods and perfect for when you want to analyze the feedback you receive.

Popular Types of Survey Questions

Here are some of the most popular types of survey questions!

  • Multiple choice questions: Multiple answers are provided
  • Rating scale questions: These commonly use a scale from one thing to another, such as A-F or 1-10
  • Likert scale questions: These are questions that have a range of answers, usually with something like strongly agree to strongly disagree
  • Dropdown questions: This type of question allows respondents to click the answer box which then opens a drop-down menu. From there they can select their answer
  • Open-ended questions: These are questions that get respondents to write their answers
  • Matrix questions: This type of question commonly uses columns of questions that are placed to the left of answers that are placed in a row at the top. Participants can scroll with each answer they provide
  • Image choice questions: This unique type of survey question gives respondents an array of images to choose from
  • Slider questions: Users can slide a bar over a scale. The scale would show something like numbers 1-10

Why Use Questionnaires?

Questionnaires are great for collecting standalone information. While they’re not super complex when it comes to getting detailed data, they do a good job of collecting the specific information that’s needed.

When to Use Questionnaires

Questionnaires are great for collecting personal information from respondents. This is usually used for things like lead generation.

They can also be helpful in situations like the chiropractor or doctor’s office when they need specific information on your health. Rather than this information being collected for analytical reasons, it’s used for a specific, informational purpose.

Create Your Poll, Survey, or Questionnaire with Digital Joy

Once you’ve selected one of the listed data collection methods it’s time to get started! Digital Joy Engage offers options for delivering your poll, survey, or questionnaire to your audience with ease.

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