Survey vs Questionnaire: Difference and When To Use in 2020

The terms survey and questionnaire are often used interchangeably, however, each serves a separate purpose. Here we will explain the variances and share tips on choosing between a survey vs questionnaire.

Survey vs Questionnaire, post image

Survey vs Questionnaire: What is a Difference

Although the survey and questionnaire both consist of asking questions to a group of people, knowing the difference between the two can impact your success in collecting the information you want.

A Survey is defined as an overall view or examination of a person, group or object. A survey is used for gathering and analyzing statistical data, and survey questions are typically closed-ended rather than free form.

Additionally, the questions are focused on a particular group of people.

These are usually based on demographics, behaviors, or interests, as a method for collecting specifics on either factual information or opinions about particular matters.

The questionnaire is comprised of a series of questions for the purpose of collecting information to provide a bigger picture.

survey v questionnaire

For example, a medical office asks a series of questions and the respondent’s answers help the physician gain insight into aspects pertaining to health status, potential risks, lifestyle and environmental habits that generally affect health.

What is the difference between survey and questionnaire overall?

Survey will include the compilation of information gathered from various observations and discussions that are categorized for analysis purposes. A questionnaire collects details for a singular purpose.

Survey vs Questionnaire: When to Use?

Questionnaires are beneficial for compiling information for reasons including building an email list, acquiring details for payment processing, job interviews, etc.

If, however, you want to gather feedback on how many people prefer PayPal to Stripe or want to determine how much your customers enjoy your products or services, the survey will be the better choice.

Questionnaires can be created for a particular purpose and are completed by individuals. Also, questionnaires can include an array of different style questions.

These include open-ended, multiple-choice, yes or no, and so on, giving you the opportunity to obtain a lot of detailed data on a certain topic.

The answers provided on questionnaires can then be summarized and essentially become a part of a survey. However, because survey questions are broader, they cannot become a part of a questionnaire.

Questionnaires can be made available to a large audience base as a way of gaining a better understanding of your audience and the answers obtained can be used for various purposes.

However, in regards to surveys, you will want to set a laser-focused goal and make it available to an explicit target audience. Surveys are ideally used for the purpose of obtaining customer feedback directly after an experience.

For instance, by sending a survey to a customer immediately following their interaction with your customer support line, or after receiving one of your services or products will provide you with valuable data. The data collected will give constructive feedback.

Possibly, it will also point out shortcomings or issues, as well as positive aspects, depending on the goal of the survey.

When customers see that their opinion matters, they will feel valued and customer loyalty will be strengthened. Also, if you experience customer churn, a survey can be useful for discovering their reasons for leaving.

This beneficial data can then help prevent additional customers from leaving for the same reasons.

Questionnaires and surveys can be used in a variety of ways and through gathering this information, you can increase revenues, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty.

If you are looking for a free to start survey tool with a huge amount of survey templates that help to collect customer feedback increasing customer satisfaction, don’t waste your time and get started with Survicate.

Survey vs Questionnaire: Common Mistakes

As with any marketing tactic, you want to have the main focus. Therefore the questions used for compiling data should follow that rule as well.

Survey v Questionnaire

When designing your questionnaire or survey, avoid these common mistakes.

Mistake #1: Asking too many Open-Ended Questions.

It is acceptable to include a few open-ended questions that encourage your audience to leave feedback. But too many questions that require in-depth answers can result in incomplete surveys because of the time and think required.

Mistake #2:  Making the Questions Confusing or Complicated.

One element of getting the most out of your marketing is through knowing your audience. Avoid using complicated language or posing questions that can be confusing.

If you want your questions answered, design them so they can be read and answered quickly.

Mistake #3: Asking Too Many Questions.

Keep in mind your audience will be answering your questions on their personal time. Hence, if they choose to complete it, the expectation is that it will only require a few minutes. Therefore, keep your questions brief, to the point, and limit them to ten or fewer per survey.

Mistake #4: Not Making Your Questions Mobile Friendly.

Most everyone has a smartphone nowadays and use it as a tool to browse the internet while on break, waiting in the grocery line, or watching TV. As mentioned, surveys will likely be completed during moments of spare time.

Thus, making your surveys accessible across mobile devices, is a must. If you need a mobile-friendly solution, check this out.

When designing your questions, you’ll want to focus on topics that matter to your customers. Perhaps you want to expand a product line or offer additional services.

You need to gather information from your audience to determine their preferences.

Or maybe you want to offer a customer satisfaction survey. Whatever the purpose for creating questions, you must start by understanding your target audience. Structure the sentences using words and tones that will resonate with them.


Conducting survey research can be a powerful tool for marketing, customer success and so much more. Prior to the Internet, questionnaires existed in paper form, and the information was manually reviewed and summarized in order to accumulate the data needed.

While, once a long and labor-intensive process, because of the technological advancements we have access to today, online questionnaire and survey tools have made the process much more accessible, affordable, useful, and efficient.

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Survicate wish you have fun & good luck !

Kasia Kowalska

Senior Content Specialist @Survicate. Passionate traveler and a massive fan of American stand-up comedy!

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