For most people, a poll and survey are just two in the same. It is true, each is a way of asking a question and collecting data. But this is where the similarities between the two end.

Some distinct features of each are what makes a poll and a survey very different from one another. It is because of these unique features that make each better suited to a certain type of data collection.

If you want to learn more about what differences are between a poll and survey, read on!

What Is a Poll?

Compared to a traditional survey, a poll is much more simple in both its structure and questions.

Polls are normally structured to ask only one question. The idea behind only asking one question is to make the poll much more targeted. It also significantly reduces the amount of time needed to complete the poll, making those who are selected to take part more willing to provide feedback.

Data collection using a poll is also much different than a survey. The questions and additionally the data are geared for what the participant feels at that moment in time. This idea can be demonstrated with election polls, where a participant’s answer may change over time. Even though the answer may change in the future, the poll is meant to collect data for that instant.

Common examples of polls are election polls and feedback polls on certain websites. Polls can also be given over the phone or in person at certain stores and retailers.

What is a Survey?

Complexity and length are the main factors that separate a survey from a poll. The amount of questions and what they cover are normally much larger compared to polls.

For a survey, the number of questions will be much larger with at least 10 or more questions being a standard survey. One key feature of the questions contained in a survey, is that they will normally be open ended. This allows for an expanded response at the cost of the targeting power of a simple multiple choice question.

Unlike a poll, a survey normally collects data of the participant’s current and future opinion. This allows the institution or company that is giving the survey to gauge the future opinion on a subject. For companies, getting detailed insight into what customers would like is critical. This is why companies normally rely on surveys to help collect more detailed consumer opinions.

Companies and manufacturers usually have surveys that their customers can take after purchasing a product. These surveys normally have a cash or item reward for the participant. Rewards are given as a way to compensate those who take the entire survey.

To help distribute both their surveys and rewards, businesses turn to organized online survey platforms. These websites do a much better job at targeting the intended demographic of consumers. Survey takers can now share their opinion and collect earned rewards all in one place.

How Polls and Surveys Are Used Together

Sometimes companies want to collect data for both the current time as well as the future. To do this, both a poll and survey are used to collect data. Using different forms of data collection allows companies to get a much clearer picture of the present and future.

Being able to see current trends and have insight into future trends is what makes a combination of both methods so effective for many companies. Due to their effectiveness, polls and surveys are essential to both business and politics and will be used for many years to come.