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Collecting and Analyzing Survey Data over Time

Survey information you gather today may no longer be accurate next month. Why? Changes in business climate, new programs, new employees or new customers may affect satisfaction levels, site visitor information or support requirements. By implementing a program of ongoing surveys, you can track change in opinions and needs, so that you can react quickly to downturns or benefit from new sales opportunities.

Because of its speed, flexibility and cost effective, the ideal medium for collecting this information is through Internet surveys. A major strength of eSurveysPro is that you can implement ongoing research with no significant incremental cost or development time. Unlike traditional paper or telephone-based research, which requires significant investment and manpower, well designed web surveys can collect data continually with little human intervention, providing fast, valuable results.

There are two ways that you can implement surveys to measure changes over time. You can create multiple event-based surveys and compare results between surveys, or develop one survey to capture the same information over time. Each method has its strengths, which are discussed below.

Multiple Survey Method

If you want to include different sets of time-sensitive or event-specific questions, your best bet is to use several sequential surveys. However, if you want to compare results accurately from different surveys you will need to keep the same core questions and formatting between questionnaires. This assures validity for inter-survey comparisons.

You use eSurveysPro to collect web site visitor information that cannot be gathered from log files and have just launched a new online advertising campaign. You want to know how well the advertisements are working. In this case, you create a new survey that includes your current questions about age, area of interest and household income, and add new questions about the site visitors' exposure to the campaign. By adding this topical data with your existing demographic information, you will be able to measure your campaign's effectiveness among your target audience.

In a separate analysis, you can compare pre-campaign and post-campaign demographics to establish how the campaign may draw different types of visitors to your site. When you're ready to compare results between the two surveys, open both the pre-campaign and post-campaign surveys by opening eSurveysPro Desktop twice. By having the two windows side by side, you can look at the results for each question common to both surveys to see how results may differ. If you are filtering or cross-tabulating data, having both windows open will help assure that you have applied the same filters for both sets of survey results. This side by side presentation is also very helpful in reporting on the data. Export your graphs to the same page in Word or PowerPoint so that report readers can compare the differences easily.

Single Survey Method

If your goal is to gather and compare data over a length of time, you can accomplish this with one well planned survey. Your first step is to create an effective, "timeless" survey. Timelessness refers to questions which do not rely on a particular event or activity, but can refer to a number of events equally. Some may include:

  • On a scale of 1 to 7, how satisfied are you with the service you receive from XYZ Company?
  • Have you ever purchased from our web site?
  • In which industry do you work?

This differs significantly from time-sensitive questions such as:

  • What recommendations can you give us on improving our new widget?
  • On a scale of 1 to 7, how important would this feature be to your purchase decision?

Both of the above examples may be appropriate during product development or prior to purchase, but the new widget will not always be new, or the feature may change over time.

Often, though, surveys are used to gather data from specific events such as follow up to a training seminar, satisfaction with a technical support interaction or to inquire about activities during a web site visit. To provide your respondents with a frame of reference, include information about that event in your web page or email invitation to assure that the respondent will understand which event is being discussed. To identify events about which specific responses are given, you can pass hidden values to the survey from the link or email message. This is particularly useful if you use the same survey to gather information from multiple events, visits or activities.

This type of survey appears at the bottom of each newsletter page on our web site. In fact, this is the same survey file, repeated on each page, with a hidden field that captures the article being evaluated. The value of gathering data this way is that we can review the overall responses (do our readers find our newsletter valuable), and then look at specific pages by filtering on the hidden field (did our readers find a particular article valuable).

When analyzing results from a survey that you've run over a period of time, you can filter the data to look at results gathered during specific time frames. Each time someone responds to your survey, eSurveysPro captures the date that the response was submitted. To analyze results from a specific date or date range, use the Filter Builder in eSurveysPro's Analysis window to select your date range. Again, you can view results in side by side eSurveysPro Desktop windows by opening the file two times, then filtering on the different date ranges you wish to evaluate in each window. If you are comparing results in a report, it is useful to present the graphs side by side.

For a great view of how responses to a particular question have changed over time, cross-tabulate that question with the date received, by day, month or year. The resulting data table is a great way to review how responses have changed by time period. You can export cross-tabulated data tables easily for your reports.


When is it valuable to conduct surveys over time? Here are just a few examples:

  • Web site visitor demographics: Who is surfing your site and why. In an ongoing analysis of web site traffic, demographic information is a valuable adjunct to log analysis.
  • Customer support follow up: Identify areas for improvement and areas of strength for your department by measuring customer satisfaction. By measuring the same points over time, you can identify issues quickly, before they cost you any business.
  • Employee satisfaction: Measure overall satisfaction regularly, then you will have a baseline against which you can measure the effect of corporate changes.
  • Shopping cart abandonment: Learn why shoppers are leaving your site, while tracking how site changes affect willingness to purchase.
  • Win/Loss Analysis: Identify new and increasing competitive threats as they arise.
  • Seminar Follow Up: Track the value of each seminar so that you can compare between events as well as view overall seminar program results.

Even if you are conducting just one survey right now, consider whether you might want to ask the same audience the same types of questions again or consider tracking changes to responses over time. This uniquely rich information can help you react to changing trends.

Survey Templates

Customer satisfaction surveys

Take a look at our survey samples related to customer satisfaction. 5 templates are available right now.

Human resources surveys

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Marketing research surveys

Take a look at our survey samples related to marketing research. 2 templates are available right now.

Services evaluation surveys

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Academic questionnaire templates

Take a look at our academic questionnaire samples. We have 2 templates available right now.

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