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  • Writer's pictureKristin Harper

Qualitative Research Surveys in 2023: When & How To Use This Tool

Qualitative Research Surveys in 2023

Do you want to learn more about your customers, employees, or market? Qualitative research surveys take the guesswork out of understanding customer needs and preferences. This type of survey is a method of collecting information to open-ended questions to develop an understanding of their experiences, opinions, and beliefs. Unlike quantitative research, these surveys provide essential insights into the motivations and values of your target audience - information that’s useful in any business decision-making process and for informing closed-ended questions in traditional quantitative surveys. As such, businesses looking to stay ahead of their competition can benefit from utilizing qualitative research surveys. In this blog post, we'll discuss when, why and how to use these types of surveys so you can make informed decisions for your organization.

What is a qualitative research survey?

A qualitative research survey is a method of collecting information from a small group of people to develop an understanding of their experiences, opinions, and beliefs. It is used to explore a particular issue or topic in-depth, and the results obtained are non-numerical. The approach makes use of open-ended questions to elicit answers and responses that can be useful in determining patterns and themes.

Unlike quantitative research surveys, the focus is not on testing a hypothesis or theory, but on generating new insights and ideas. Qualitative research surveys can be conducted via many methods, such as one-to-one interviews, focus groups, discussion boards, and online surveys. This approach has proven to be an effective way of providing rich, detailed insights that can be useful for decision-making.

On the other hand, traditional quantitative research focuses on collecting and analyzing numerical data using statistical methods. Quantitative approaches aim to identify patterns and trends and to establish cause-and-effect relationships. Although both approaches have their own strengths and limitations, understanding the differences between them can help analysts choose the best approach, or a blend of qualitative and quantitative, often referred to as mixed-method research.

Different types of qualitative research methods

When it comes to conducting qualitative research, there are various methods that can be used to gather meaningful insights.

One such method is the focus group, where a group of participants engages in a discussion led by a moderator. This approach can provide a wealth of information as participants are encouraged to build on each other's points of view.

Another method is the ethnographic approach, where research moderators immerse themselves in the environment being studied to observe and document the behavior and interactions of its those who are being observed. This approach can reveal deep-seated cultural values and norms that may not be immediately apparent in other settings or research methodologies.

Content analysis is a systematic examination of written and spoken language, to understand underlying themes and meaning in texts. It allows analysts to identify common themes, issues, and patterns in large amounts of textual data in a systematic and rigorous way, which can help to inform strategic decisions or targeted communication campaigns.

In-depth interviews, another qualitative survey method, aim to explore respondents’ perspectives, experiences, and attitudes in detail. These one-on-one conversations with participants give the interviewers detailed information, flexibility, personal connection, and the ability to explore unexpected topics.

Finally, during participant observation, investigators spend time observing participants within their natural environments, providing insightful and descriptive data useful for investigating complex social problems, cultural practices, and environmental settings.

Whatever the approach, qualitative research can provide rich and nuanced insights into complex phenomena.

Benefits of using qualitative research with surveys in the workplace

Qualitative research with surveys is an excellent tool for gathering useful insights about employees and workplace dynamics, also referred to as “voice of the employee.” They allow companies to better understand their employees' needs, perceptions, and experiences. With qualitative surveys, employers can ask open-ended questions that elicit thoughtful and detailed answers and responses, providing a deeper understanding of employee opinions and experiences. This information can then be used to improve workplace conditions, create policies that better meet employees' needs, and inspire strategies to increase engagement and job satisfaction. Additionally, qualitative surveys can help companies identify patterns and trends in employee experiences that may not be noticeable through other means of data collection. Overall, the benefits of using qualitative surveys in the workplace are substantial and can help businesses create a better and more productive working environment for employees.

Creating qualitative research survey questions

Crafting effective qualitative research survey questions for surveys is crucial for getting the most accurate and valuable responses from your participants.

  • Identify the information you want to gather, and then write questions that are direct and unbiased.

  • Use clear, concise, and easy-to-understand language. This will not only help ensure that your participants accurately understand the questions but will also help you avoid confusion and inaccurate responses.

  • Avoid jargon or technical terms, use simple language, and keep your questions short and to the point.

By crafting effective qualitative research survey questions, you can gather valuable information and answers that can help inform your decisions and lead to improved customer satisfaction and outcomes.

Analyzing the data from your survey results

Analyzing your survey results is a crucial step in understanding your target audience and their preferences. By carefully examining the responses collected, you can uncover patterns and trends that will help you make informed decisions about your business or organization. Taking a deep dive into your survey will also provide valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your offerings. But interpreting the responses correctly can be challenging, especially when dealing with complex statistics. That's why it's important to approach the task with a clear set of objectives and to use tools that can help simplify the process. Whether you're looking to improve your products, better target your marketing efforts, or measure customer satisfaction, analyzing your survey effectively can put you on the path to success.

Tips for getting the most out of your survey

Qualitative research with surveys is a great tool for obtaining qualitative data, such as opinions and feelings about a specific topic. To get the most out of this type of survey, it's important to ask the right questions in order to get meaningful insights from respondents. Focus not only on collecting statistical facts but also look into qualitative information by including open-ended questions so your results will reflect the full range of perspectives that are relevant to your study. It's also important to consider the demographics of your target audience when developing the survey—frame it in a way that is meaningful and unbiased for those respondents. With careful planning and thoughtful crafting of qualitative research survey questions, you can create an incredibly powerful tool for gathering valuable data sets.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of a qualitative research survey:

  1. Ask open-ended questions that allow respondents to provide detailed answers and capture the complexity of their experiences.

  2. Use probes to help respondents clarify their responses and encourage them to elaborate their answers further. This will help them avoid providing incomplete or unclear answers,

  3. Analyze your data systematically and look for patterns, themes, and insights that emerge.

  4. Be aware of your own biases and preconceptions and how they might affect the data you collect and the analysis process.

  5. Use multiple methods of data collection, such as focus groups, interviews, and document analysis, to provide a richer and more comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon you are investigating.

  6. Ensure confidentiality and informed consent to participate in the study.

  7. Engage participants in the process by providing them with opportunities to ask questions, provide feedback, and participate in analysis.

By following these tips, you can conduct a qualitative survey that is rigorous, insightful, and impactful.


The benefits of using qualitative research with surveys are clear. Qualitative surveys can offer businesses an array of insights into the wants and needs of their employees, customers, and other stakeholders. Not only can such insight help guide decisions and strategies, allowing for improved results across the board, but knowledge gained through qualitative research can also be a major asset during negotiations. Careful crafting of survey questions to gain as much meaningful information as possible is vital, as is experienced surveying techniques from a reliable partner like Driven To Succeed LLC; analysis of findings must also be conducted in order to obtain further value from the data collected. With the right planning, a useful understanding of the needs of various stakeholders can be achieved; greater profitability and increased loyalty amongst audiences will follow soon afterward! If you would like more information on how qualitative research surveys might benefit your organization or business, contact Driven to Succeed LLC.

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Driven to Succeed is an award-winning global market research and consulting firm that compliments data (the “what”) with empathetic research and conversations (the “why”) to help Fortune 500 companies and high-growth brands uncover insights to innovate and grow. Our team has walked a mile in your shoes with over 100 years of experience in Market Research, Marketing, and P&L Management for global iconic brands and startup companies across diverse B2B and B2C industries. Learn more at

Answers to your Qualitative Research Survey Questions

What is a Qualitative Research Survey?

A qualitative research survey is a research method that collects information through open-ended questions and detailed responses. It is designed to gain an in-depth understanding of complex issues or phenomena, such as people's attitudes, beliefs, motivations, and experiences. The survey usually involves smaller sample sizes and is focused on exploring the subjective meaning of a phenomenon, rather than quantifying it. The data collected from a qualitative research survey is typically analyzed through thematic analysis, where common themes and patterns are identified from participants' responses. This approach can provide rich and nuanced information that can be used to improve products or services, inform strategic decisions, and deepen our understanding of complex issues.

How do you write a Qualitative Research Survey?

Here are some steps to consider when writing a qualitative research survey:

  1. Define your research question. Before you start writing your survey, be clear about your research question and what you hope to achieve through your research.

  2. Identify your target audience. Determine the group of people you want to survey, whether it's a specific demographic or people with particular experiences.

  3. Choose your survey method. Select the right survey method that best suits your research question and target audience (e.g., online survey, phone survey, in-person interview, focus group).

  4. Develop open-ended questions. Create questions that allow for detailed, open-ended responses that can capture the richness and complexity of participants' experiences, attitudes, and beliefs.

  5. Test your survey. Before launching your survey, test it with a small group of target participants to identify any issues, ambiguities, or problems with your questions.

  6. Pilot your survey. Conduct a pilot study with a small sample of your target population. This is an opportunity to refine your questions, test the feasibility of the survey, and identify issues with data collection.

  7. Collect and analyze data. Once you have completed your survey, analyze the data using thematic analysis or other analytical methods that can help you identify common themes and patterns among your responses.

  8. Write up your findings. Write up your findings in a report or paper and describe how your research addresses your research question or hypothesis.

Overall, writing a qualitative research survey requires careful planning, attention to detail, and an understanding of the research methods used to collect data.

How many respondents are in a Qualitative Research Survey?

The number of respondents required for a qualitative research survey is not fixed, and there is no definitive sample size. Instead, the aim of qualitative research is not to generate statistically representative samples, but rather to gain detailed insights into the participants' experiences, attitudes, and understanding of a particular phenomenon.

Qualitative research often involves smaller sample sizes than quantitative research, as researchers want to collect in-depth data and deep insights from participants. The sample size will depend on the research question and the scope of the research. A small sample size of about five to ten participants is typically used for in-depth interviews or focus groups, while a larger sample size may be used for online surveys or other forms of data collection.

Ultimately, the goal of qualitative research is to generate rich and nuanced insights and gain a deeper understanding of a particular phenomenon, rather than to obtain statistical generalizations that can be assumed to apply to a broader population. As such, the sample size for a qualitative research survey should be determined by the research question and the scope of the research.

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