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Offline Form is the New Talk of the Town, and Rightly So!

Indhuja Lal

1 September 2021

6 min read

Why an offline form?

Let’s start simple and sweet. Imagine that you are a baker with a dream of a bakery-café chain with foodies queuing up till the end of the road. Such a pretty dream! How will you go about it now? You need growth and more growth.

Who would know what your customers want better than your customers?

Surveys are your best friend there, and online surveys help you to get the job done with ease. Thanks to the design, you get people’s attention. You get to contact thousands of your target customers in minutes. Deeper insights into buying patterns and trends await you…

..Until you or your customer get into a bad network zone.

What is an offline form?

Offline forms let you capture data in real-time without an internet connection.

What if your survey gets stuck or buffers for a long time? What if you are surveying customers in a remote area or your customer is in transit? How long do you think they are going to wait? Not for long. And your survey, no matter how painstakingly designed and deployed, is going to fail if it fails to load.

An offline form deployed through an offline survey app can save your data collection from these disruptions.

A common myth of offline surveys is that they are suitable for Asian and African countries where the internet penetration is far less than in the US. But you will be surprised to know that 15% of users have already started using offline apps. It doesn’t mean that online survey apps are irrelevant. On the contrary, it means that you may be losing out on valuable data because of network problems. Offline forms help you cover this missing base.

15% of users have already started using offline apps.

How do offline form apps work?

It’s a common perception that everything looks and performs better when it is online. But here, you find survey platforms competing with each other by bringing out more offline apps. Why? Here’s how they work:

  • Offline form apps enable you to do research anytime and anywhere, depending on your convenience rather than the internet.
  • Offline forms work on most hand-held devices. You can fill it yourself or give the device to the respondent.
  • You can store the data in the app. Then, when the connection is restored, you can auto-sync this data with your online database. This saves you the trouble of manually uploading information.
  • Offline forms can be customized on the app. It lets you get creative minus the cost limitations of print.

How to use offline forms for data collection

If you already use an online survey app, here’s a question for you. What are the scenarios where offline forms can work better than online surveys?

Let us introduce you to some scenarios:

1. Remote Surveys – Offline form apps are ideal for collecting data in remote places or dead zones. For example, you are conducting a survey on folk medicine traditions in a remote village. Unfortunately, you’re probably not going to have access to paper, a printer for printing the forms or even a stable net connection. So you use an offline form app.

2. Event Surveys – You are going to thank your offline survey app here. Let’s say you’re conducting an event like a medical camp or a renaissance fair and need to know the feedback. At events, people are usually more willing to share their thoughts and opinions with you. But it is vital to capture feedback immediately because you don’t want to keep them waiting! What’s more, the moment is still fresh in their minds to give better insights. So event surveys are a good fit for offline apps.

3. Walk-in Surveys – This is where you directly walk up to your customers, collect feedback immediately and moves on to the next customer. Slow internet is a buzzkill since nobody will wait to complete the survey when they go from place to place or have other things to do.

Survey fatigue is a real thing and the customers would not hesitate to leave at the first sign of discomfort.

Advantages of offline form apps

On-the-Spot Feedback

An offline form app is a lifesaver when you need point-of-contact feedback. Aside from the obvious advantage of going internet-free, an offline survey gives you quick answers. What’s more, through offline surveys, you can also observe the customer’s reactions – valuable clues for market research or lead generation.

Accurate Responses

A bike ride event is happening, and you have got about 75,000 people coming in. Naturally, they will be excited to give their views on the event. Offline forms provide an opportunity to ask face-to-face, obliging respondents to answer in the best possible manner. Moreover, the moment will be fresh in their minds and supported by their reactions. Thus, you get more accurate responses and better insights.

More Reach

Offline surveys can be your best bet when you don’t have an extensive contact list and need to increase the number of respondents. Here are a couple of scenarios that come to mind:

  • Political campaigners use offline polls to sample public opinion.
  • Researchers at the mall, on the street, or other public locations intercept visitors at random and ask them questions (also known as intercept surveys). They do this with an offline form app on a phone or tablet.

Better Engagement

We all, at one point or another, wanted to be celebrities. That’s because we want to feel special and appreciated. This urge is something that smart brands try to prioritize. Offline forms play into this urge because we deploy them as personal interviews, enhancing survey engagement rates.

Let’s go back to your dream bakery-café. Imagine you are planning new menu items and decide to give free samples to the customers. They get to taste the goodies and personally give feedback. This way, they will feel valued, and you will gain invaluable insights from these interactions. Trust us; few are going to shy away from a survey that includes free food!

Deeper Insights

Another unique characteristic of the offline form is a chance to explore the answers in detail. For example, if you need to clarify a response, you can ask follow-up questions for further information. You can understand why they responded the way they did and get information that the survey questions did not account for. It’s why researchers engaged in field data collection usually prefer this survey method.

 Offline surveys allows the scope for deeper exploration of answers and instant follow-up.

Ease of Use

Let’s face it – paper forms are unwieldy, hard to carry, and easy to lose or damage. With an online form app, all you need is your device. Moreover, you can view the information and password-protect it on your device while offline. So why bother with paper and clipboards?

Alas! Nothing is perfect

For all their benefits, offline forms do have some downsides. First of all, they might be less time-consuming than paper surveys. However, they are still time-consuming because of the personal interviews.

With offline surveys, there is also the possibility that people might hide their true feelings to be polite. You can always counter this by asking for candid feedback and telling them why.

Tips for an effective offline form

  • Be clear about your survey objectives. Stick to them to avoid confusing your respondents.
  • If the survey is in an interview form, ensure that the surveyor has good interpersonal and interviewing skills. In addition, they should know how to engage strangers and keep them motivated to participate.
  • Keep it short and simple, preferably under 5 minutes.
  • Use a mix of open and close-ended questions.
  • Avoid shoving in too many graphics. Instead, ensure proper formatting and device compatibility.
  • You might be tempted to rely on checkboxes and radio buttons to avoid long responses. But use them carefully. Offline survey apps are mobile, so there are device size constraints. Due to this, selecting buttons and boxes can be problematic.

Wrapping up!

Often, companies miss out on leads and feedback due to unavoidable network issues. But in the customer’s mind, this can translate to an annoying survey experience. In this situation, offline forms and survey apps help you do hassle-free feedback management. They are ideal for public places, live feedback and remote or dead zones. An online form may require a little more effort, but it pays off with in-depth and information-rich responses.

Indhuja Lal

Product Marketer at SurveySparrow

A dilettante bohemian soul mesmerized with the magic of words, sworn to be unpredictable, and spellbound with the simplicity of humanity...

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