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Survey Data Collection Methods For Calculating Online Survey Audience Size

Choosing our target audience demographics is an integral component of the surveying process. Learn how to calculate perfect size for your survey audience.

August 20, 2021

Survey Data Collection Methods For Calculating Online Survey Audience Size

Choosing our target audience demographics is an integral component of the surveying process. Learn how to calculate perfect size for your survey audience.


With the right survey data collection methods, we can transform the way our do business. Survey research and the resulting survey data produced can be used to create business solutions, to address inadequacies present in our current business strategy, and to help us to make rational, informed decisions.

When we look at creating surveys, it’s vital that we are including a variety of open ended questions and other question tasks that are going to help uncover the important facts we need to address. Another key component in survey creation - and one that is often overlooked by novice surveyors - is the audience selection process.

Selecting an audience for our surveys requires us to identify our target market; without a clear vision for who we’re designing our online surveys for, we may be unable to gather the data we need to develop our business.

After identifying our target market, we need to evaluate the number of people in our target audience. From there, we can work to calculate how many people we may need to survey in order to get precise and accurate results.

Why Audience Size Matters for Data Collection

When creating online surveys for research purposes, the audience we’re targeting determines how our online surveys are designed - not the other way around. There are many distinctions in the ways that online surveys can be crafted to address the needs of our research purposes - some subtle, and some not.

For more information on how looking at our audiences’ demographic makeup can improve the quality of our data collection survey response rates, click here.

With our survey designs, it’s just as important to determine the “who” that makes up our audience as it is to determine how many participants are going to be in our audience. Paying attention to the makeup of our audience will improve overall outcomes of our survey data collection.

There are several factors that we need to account for in our audience selection process:

Type of Research Conducted

Size of Existing Markets

Available Marketing Budget

Types of Survey Research & Survey Data Collection

Depending on our purpose for conducting research surveys, we may consider either increasing or reducing the size of our surveying audience. The way that we use the data analyzed from our online surveys can also have an impact on the total number of participants we’ll need to recruit.

If you are looking to gather data for the purposes of market segmentation, then you will want to be surveying as many potential customers as you can get. For more concise research purposes - such as analyzing the success of a recent advert campaign of ours - we can instead opt for a smaller, more targeted group of consumers. These activities will help us improve our response rates and increase the yields of our survey data collection.

Size of Existing Markets

The next step in determining our audience size involves looking at the size and availability of our existing markets.

If we are lacking information on our target audience, then the best course of action is to send our survey out to a general sample of individuals. Casting a wide net can still garner useful data points, and can allow us to better determine our audience demographics for the future.

When we are assessing the size of our markets, what we are doing is comparing the sales of our competitors to our own, taking a view at our current market share, and evaluating consumer sentiment about our brand through surveying and polling.

Available Marketing Budget

Telephone surveys, door-to-door surveying, and undifferentiated marketing are going the way of the dinosaur.

Digital surveying is a far more affordable alternative to the traditional methods of surveying; but that does not mean it is not without its costs.

Most digital platforms (SurveyMonkey, SurveyLegend, Typeform) charge users a monthly membership fee or subscription in order to access their online surveying capabilities.

Other platforms (Google Forms, Helpfull) charge users based on the size of the audience being interviewed.

For start-ups and small businesses, marketing can come at great personal expense; it is always advisable to go with what gets you the most bang for your buck.

The best practice is to evaluate the size of your target audience, the value of the survey itself, and your available marketing budget. Getting the most out of your marketing dollar means comparing all of these elements with the online surveying services available to you.

How to Use Data Collection Methods to Calculate Audience Sizes

In order to calculate our ideal audience size, we’re going to need to pull out the calculators and do ourselves a little math. Before we can begin the data analysis process, we need to go over some definitions.

Confidence Interval

Also known as the margin of error, this figure is used to describe potential variances in our data. This figure is written as ∓X - where X represents the range of values that we can be fairly sure our true value resides in.

Confidence Level

The confidence level refers to how sure we can be in the accuracy of our results. Expressed as a percentage (%), our confidence level represents how often the real percentage of a population would choose a particular answer. A 95% confidence level is the most common percentage used by researchers; a 95% confidence level translates to a 95% certainty in our confidence interval.

Sample Size

Our sample size refers to the amount of people we are surveying relative to the greater population. The larger our sample size, the more accurate our results are likely to be.

What To Do With Our Online Survey Data

When we use confidence intervals and levels together, what we get is a measurement of how sure we can be that the results of our online surveys are accurate. These figures are a valuable asset to us, as they allow us to design more effective survey research methods that bring us higher quality survey data.

We can use software like surveysystem.com to determine how large our audiences will need to be in order to meet certain confidence levels - either 95% confidence, or 99% confidence. Using this information, we can then calculate the confidence interval for our population.

If you prefer to do your math the old fashioned way, here are formulas for calculating these figures:

Confidence Interval = ( x̄ – z * ơ / √n) to ( x̄ + z * ơ / √n)

   x̄: Sample Mean

   z: Confidence Coefficient

   ơ: Population Standard Deviation

   n: Sample Size

Sample Size: n = N * [Z2 * p * (1-p)/e2] / [N – 1 + (Z2 * p * (1-p)/e2]

   N = Population size

   Z = Critical value of the normal distribution at the required confidence level

   p = Sample proportion

   e = Margin of error

What Helpfull Does Best


Helpfull is the premiere surveying software for anyone looking to get the most out of their marketing efforts. With a vast variety of different question types to choose from, Helpfull surveys can be generated and delivered to thousands of panelists in minutes.

These are just some of the features that make Helpfull a must-have tool for those looking for quality consumer feedback:

  • No Locked-In Price Plan
  • Affordable Surveying Options
  • Create Simple Surveys with Pre-Set Questions, or Design Your Own
  • No Extra Cost For Multiple Questions in a Single Survey
  • Wide Variety of Polling Demographics to Choose From
  • Get Responses & Feedback in Real Time
  • Save Your Favorite Answers for Easy Reference 
  • Aesthetically Pleasing UI and Easy-To-Use Interface 
  • Easy to Access Prior Surveys

With Helpfull’s open-ended survey design, users can design visually-striking, multi-question surveys for any occasion!

A simple survey could be all that stands between your company and the renewed success of it’s online marketing efforts.

An intuitive user-interface, coupled with the ability to gather hundreds of consumer responses in just minutes, are just a few of the features that make Helpfull the ultimate tool for any artist, designer, marketer, or inquisitive spirit.

Refine your marketing - sign up with Helpfull today, and get surveying within minutes!



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