Paper Surveys vs Online Surveys: Which One is Good For Your Business?

Since the rise in popularity of online surveys, many business are shifting towards online surveys over paper surveys. But the questions still remains, are online surveys better than paper surveys?

In the current eco-friendly climate, you might think that online surveys are a more efficient, cost-effective way to collect data. But for some organizations, however the decision to shift is a difficult one to make. Some target populations may not be receptive to online questionnaires and making the transition is a difficult decision. Are online surveys still superior to paper surveys in terms of both speed and cost-efficiency? Let’s take into consideration the following factors:

Quick Result

  • Paper survey are likely to take longer time to get result. You will need more time to take respondents to complete the survey, and send it back. Then you need to add the responses to your database manually. If time is not a problem, paper surveys may be a viable option for you.
  • Online survey, however, can collect data in very little time. You can receive real-time results as soon as participants have completed the questionnaire. This allows you to analyze and respond immediately. Moreover online survey provide real-time analysis tools so you can track the progress of your online survey.

Cost Efficient

  • With paper survey you will require additional cost for paper, postage, printing, data input, and distributing. Moreover paper surveys is at risk of being damaged and lost so you will need add more cost to reproduce.
  • With online survey there is no paper, postage, printing, and additional cost for data input and distributing. You can easily create the questionnaire and quickly distribute to thousand people via online with lower cost.


  • Both survey modes can accommodate multiple choice questions, single-response questions, list questions, and grid questions. But paper surveys are not able to handle drop-down boxes, slider controls, star-rating controls, clickable maps, images or multimedia file that more appealing to the respondent.
  • Online surveys provide more flexibility in the design. You can quickly develop a variety of customized surveys, tailored to the target audience. Additionally, many online survey provide email notification that can be easily used to be notify of completed response.

Reach & Scalability

  • You have to consider the needs of your population. The target population that you want to reach may prefer online survey or paper survey. And for some populations may need a mixed-mode both online and paper survey. When you decide to use online surveys but don’t reach your desired target that prefers paper surveys, you are wasting time and efforts.
  • Send survey with online survey to thousand people as quick as send to one people. But you have to examine your target population carefully. Some of them may don’t have access to the internet to complete survey. For example you conduct survey in rural area or doing research with patient with a target population of elderly people with little or no access to computer.

By transforming to the online survey, company will benefits in reducing costs and time. However for some organization, paper survey still have place in their survey research. Both online and paper survey can be combined in the cases where paper surveys are necessary for some of the respondents. Nevertheless, continuous technological progress may reduce that demand.

Paper Surveys vs Online Surveys: Which One is Good For Your Business?