Surveys and Experiments

It all begins by understanding what Market Research is. Market Research is the “process of designing, gathering, analyzing, and reporting information that may be used to solve a specific marketing problem.”  (Burns & Bush 2012).

Having said this, let us make a stop and deep dive into how we gather the information that we will later analyze. There are different ways of collecting information, doing it by ourselves or using someone else’s investigation, but either way, data has to be collected somehow, right?

Here is where Surveys and Marketing experiments appear to us. These are two techniques you can use to collect data, in different ways.

Let’s dig into these two and understand their differences


Surveys are a specific application of questionnaires; this means that you ask people of a specific sample a fixed set of questions. Answers can be descriptive of a larger population with sample precision and objectivity.

You may launch a survey to understand how your customers feel towards a specific aspect of your brand or product. For example, you can ask them about their likelihood to choose your brand over your competitor.

Collection of data and description are the keywords for defining surveys.


Experiments involve more understanding of causality. This kind of research set cause and effect situations and relationships: what happens to X when you modify Y? There are more variables involved in this kind of research: independent, dependent, and extraneous variables. These three should be considered when experimenting. In this type of research, one or more independent variables can be manipulated and any change in the dependent variable would be measured, considering minimizing the extraneous variables so as to have our results as clean as possible.  

When you make an experiment to test which image on your ad will have more clicks and send more traffic to your website, you are trying to reveal which image is more attractive to your consumers and if there is a significant difference between one or the other.

Causality and testing are the keywords for defining marketing experiments.

Comparing is understanding

DescriptiveExperiment: Cause-and-effect
Gather information by askingGather information by testing (scientific)
Larger samplesNot that large samples
Gather data about something specificTest a hypothesis
Feelings, thoughts, opinionsWhat happens to Y when you change X

Choosing which one to use

It is important to make the right decision when selecting which method you will use. Keeping the end in mind will help you define which is the best option to perform so as to deliver the results and insights you want.

Marketing survey will be the right option when:

  • Budget is limited
  • You want to test opinions, feelings or thought towards your products or brand
  • You need large sample precisions
  • Reveal complex and multi-level distinctions among several groups

Marketing experiment will be the right option when:

  • You want to see causality relation
  • You have independent variables that you need to test
  • You want to test a hypothesis

Surveys will tell you that something is associated with another thing but experiment will help you understand what happens to an output when you change the input.

Hope you liked today’s “Let’s talk about…” topic, I look forward to reading your comments and positions about it! If you want to know more about marketing research, check this post!

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply