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Survey vs. Questionnaire vs. Poll: What's the difference

Every industry needs to run some sort of research campaign eventually. From a large-scale survey to better understand the market, to an onboarding questionnaire that helps you understand a client’s needs, and even a quick in-office poll to decide between muffins or donuts for a long meeting.

Count on a form builder’s blog to give you the exact definition of a survey, questionnaire and poll. While they may seem similar, especially from a respondent’s point of view, each has its own goals and structure to follow. 

Considering the confusion that the similarity between these three can cause, this article explains their definitions and use cases, and what sets them apart. We’ve also included free templates and live examples that you can respond to and be inspired by how you can put into practice questionnaires, polls, or surveys. 

Keep reading to discover the differences, definitions, use-cases, and best practices.

What is the difference between a Survey, a Questionnaire and a Poll

There are important differences between surveys, questionnaires, and polls. And to assure yourself that your strategy will be successful, you need to know exactly what kind of form you are working with. This way you can build the best form to reach each defined goal and to obtain better results from your research. Here are the main differences:

What is the difference between a Survey, a Questionnaire and a Poll_Infographic MightyForms.com

- Questionnaire: Mostly comprised of multiple questions in order to best understand and learn about the respondent as an individual.

- Poll: Single-question forms that are used to quantify opinions, sources of web traffic, feedback, etc.

- Survey: The main objective is to find out people’s opinions about the experience they had/have with a business.

What is a Questionnaire

A questionnaire is, in plain words, a set of questions compiled into a list. The goal of a questionnaire is mostly centered on gathering information about an individual, focusing on what makes them unique rather than how to quantify them into a whole group.

As opposed to surveys and polls, a questionnaire has no intention of data analysis, it’s purely to collect important information to better serve the person submitting the form. The best examples are in medical forms, whether it’s a Coronavirus Self Declaration form, or a Medical History form

Questionnaire Use Cases

Questionnaires are the best tool to gather bulk data from individuals, whether that’s a client, a patient, or a case study. Some examples of questionnaires include:

Client Onboarding Questionnaire

Especially if your business is in the service industry, a questionnaire can help you quickly understand (and even quote!) your client before you even speak to them personally. This use case captures a new client’s name, contact information and asks the most basic questions that you need to know in order to offer your services.

Customer Satisfaction Questionnaire

This type of questionnaire can be used by companies to get closer to customers and get to know them in-depth. You can send out a questionnaire in order to know your client’s opinion about your products or services. Ask what can be improved, what is good the way it is, and so on. And then, you can have the necessary insight to improve your business.

Generating Case Studies

While B2C companies benefit from case studies that mention 4 out of 5 dentists, B2B companies really need to show their numbers in order to convince new clients to sign up. Questionnaires are an exceptionally practical way to measure your service’s impact on another business’s results. 

What is a Poll

Polls are a kind of survey, but to collect, analyze and generate statistics based on a single question. They are one of the fastest and very reliable ways to collect large audience opinions, and for that reason, you may be used to hearing about them around election time, since polls are conducted to learn about voters’ preferences.

Conducting a poll is the simplest way to gather information and assemble statistics about it. And with powerful MightyForms integrations, like Google Sheets, and over 3.000 more options through Zapier, you don’t even have to worry about the reports yourself, since you can automate its creation.

Poll Use Cases

Polls are made up of a single question. So, you have to be precise and objective when asking, especially if your goal is to collect real insights and analyze the results to improve your business services, customer experience, and product use.

The most common use case for polls are those used in political elections, but your business can easily conduct its own poll. Send a poll through email, embedding a choice field to it, or even add it to the company’s Twitter profile. You can run a poll to:

Create Engagement

Let the customers feel like part of your business by creating interactive content. It already works for brands on Social Media that offer native polling tools, but you can also add polls that trigger engagement within your own website’s landing pages, as an example. 

While collecting users’ insight, you also encourage them to engage with your content and page. And interactive content is a growing trend. For B2B, 45% of buyers say that interactive content (such as polls) is one of their preferred types of content.

Listening to your audience and learn with them

Learn more about how your product or service is perceived by the target audience by listening to them using a poll. Listening to the customer is one of the most democratic and effective ways to build a relationship with clients and prospects. You can even see an increased rate of ambassadors of your brand. You can be more than a product/service supplier. You can be the brand that actually listens.

Promote a new product

Use this great opportunity to promote, or even to question about, a new product. You can see what your prospects and customers think about your new product and then you have a chance to improve it even before launching it. And you excite curiosity among your audience, as well. This can let you predict the effect of the new product on your business and anticipate its results.

What is a Survey

A survey is a data collection by using a set of questions (questionnaire). It’s used to collect and analyze information about the respondents. Surveys are the best way for getting insights, no matter the industry, or if you’re part of a governmental organization or even charity. If you need to know more about your audience and how they perceive your organization, product, or service, build a survey to it.

Did your designers decide to change your logo, but you’re not so sure about it? Or maybe you’re in doubt about a product launch Or just want to know your audience better to write better content. For all this, and more, you can conduct a survey. Gather any kind of information by making the right questions, and building an interactive and interesting survey.

If you are curious about how long you should let your survey available, Survey Monkey also wanted to know how long it takes for a survey to collect enough data for effective analysis, here is what they discovered: 

41% of responses were collected within 1 day

66% of responses were collected within 3 days

80% of responses were collected within 7 days

So, try to wait for a week before starting to analyze the collected data, this will give a better perspective of your issue and precise results.

Survey Use Cases

We’ve already talked about how you can build a survey, but do you know when you can use it, to best benefit your business? 

Surveys can have a great impact on your business. You can conduct marketing surveys to learn more about your target audience, or HR surveys to listen from your employees about what needs to be changed in your company structure.

Customer Satisfaction Survey

Shape your campaigns and offer a better customer experience service by surveying your clients. With a well-conducted survey, you can predict the customers’ needs and do your best to attend to their demands.

Pro tip: To get an idea of the ease of customer’s experience, and their overall experience, you can use the Customer Effort Score (CES) or Net Promoter Score (NPS) type of question. While these have separate objectives, they are incredibly valuable in a Customer Satisfaction Survey. This is an example of an NPS:

Target Audience Demographic

Collect user data and learn more about your potential customers by asking questions about the demographic. This can help you understand your target audience and help you build better and more effective campaigns, both to attract and to keep clients. 

And it can also help with new product creation, since you now know who is your audience, what they need and require. If your customers access your offers through a desktop you can provide a different experience than if they were on mobile devices, as an example.

Brand awareness

Get to know what people think about your product, and if they know and understand what you are delivering. This can show the direction you must take in your marketing campaigns. Educating prospects usually is a good action to take, but it is not the only action that can improve how people know and how much they understand about your product. And conducting a survey can give you insight into how the brand is perceived, and also you can use this as an opportunity to share more information about your business.

Questionnaire, Survey & Poll Examples 

Browse through MightyForms’s multiple free form templates to help you build your own automated form, regardless if you are building a survey, questionnaire, or poll. This form builder makes it seamless to collect data and integrate it with other apps and tools, especially when integrating with Zapier

You can also benefit from features like Save & Resume, Abandoned Form Recovery, and others that can help you keep your leads by letting them come back later, even from a different device, or reaching out for abandoned leads. Here you have three examples of how to use questionnaires, surveys, and polls. And the best part is that you can answer all of them (if you want to):

Questionnaire Form Template 

We’ve mentioned how common it is in medical forms, but it’s also present in industries like Real Estate. You can add a questionnaire into your website for potential buyers to include exactly what they are looking for in their new home. Check out this free Questionnaire template.

But if your business is in neither of those industries you can always see how your website content is performing with this quick example (feel free to respond to it):

With this information, we can learn more about the audience and produce better-targeted content. All to improve our product and produce more relevant content for you.

Poll Example

Polls are simpler to build, but their results can have a huge impact on how you are doing business.

In this example we can figure out if most of our readers are already familiar with the MightyForms form builder, or not. After the data collection and the analysis is made, any action to be taken can be based on precise data analysis, and a goal can be determined.

Survey Template

One good example of a survey can be the one you use to understand the user’s behavior, and then be able to predict and anticipate the user's needs and desires. This can also help you build a better product and experience for your customers. Here's a free survey template you can use.

With the data collected from this survey, actions can be taken towards having more content about a specific industry or focusing on talking more about the ease of having automated online forms on the business website, for example. 

MightyForms is always interested in hearing what you have to say. Respond to these examples and let your voice be heard. And if you have any feedback or suggestion, or just want to say hi, don’t hesitate to send us a message.

To all kinds of research you need to conduct, and to learn more about your own audience, MightyForms has the perfect solution. Start building now.


Heloise Montini

Heloise Montini is a journalist and SEO specialist. She writes about travel, news, and, as a hobby, creative writing. She is always available for new challenges and learning.