Mixed-mode surveys. What are they and how Sample Solutions can help you conduct such surveys?

What are mixed-mode surveys?

Joining several data collection methods for a single project that is being conducted by a single fieldwork/research agency is called a mixed-mode survey. Usually, fieldwork agencies tend to combine CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing) with CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing ), online panels, and/or alternative mobile survey modes such as SMS or IVR. 

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, when everyday functioning had to face radical changes, the usage of these hybrid types of research has seen an uprising. Agencies across the globe had been facing difficulties reaching out to decision-makers by company phone numbers, while at the same time, Face-to-Face (F2F) was practically impossible, due to social distancing measures. New ways of obtaining higher coverage and response rates had to be explored.  Needless to say that this approach has been used for years already, mostly by larger companies and corporations due to its high effectiveness and high functionality to gain additional insights. 

Response rates

CATI, CAWI, and CAPI, and every single one of these data collection methods have a different response rate, specific mode effects, and each of them has experienced a decrease in the past decade. Using a mixed-mode approach can help increase response rates by giving the respondents various options for participation. This way, the respondents can choose their preferred channel. While some people don’t have access to the internet or don’t feel confident using a computer, tablet, or smartphone, others may prefer the online approach because of the ease of use or because of not feeling comfortable responding to questionnaires on the phone or in person. 


While the cost of a CATI project has been increasing, it still persists as one of the most representative methodologies used in research. On the other hand, online research is one of the most cost-effective data collection methods but it may result in coverage bias and certain non-response errors. For that reason, a mixed mode can be the optimal approach in order to ensure response rate and representativeness while reducing costs. 

Measurement errors

What are the pros and cons of a mixed-mode survey?

In spite of the above-mentioned advantages, we must stress the importance of the issues that mixed-mode research can cause, and it’s related to measurement errors and it’s due to the fact that different types of data-collection methods result in different types of answers to the same question. The types of questions, the presence or not of an interviewer, and multiple choices available are just some of the factors that can influence the final answer of the respondent. 

This being said, we can conclude that the ideal scenario would be to redefine the questionnaire and design the surveys in a way that a mixed-mode data collection can provide comparable results. 

If your agency is facing the challenge of mixed-mode surveys for the first time, and we all know how hard it can be to navigate in stranger tides, be carefree. We at Sample Solutions have found -The Solution, that can ensure a smooth process and optimal results.

How to successfully combine different types of data-collection methods.

Based on our experience as a sample provider, a combination of a CATI methodology with online surveys, has resulted in major improvements when it comes to B2B survey research projects. 

As previously mentioned, finding the right decision-makers via CATI has been a real challenge during the pandemic, hence plenty of researchers have turned to utilizing direct email addresses in order to obtain a portion of the responses. Now that the organizations have reintroduced work-from-office policies, the agencies that have been doing mainly CATI have moved back to the familiar territory, keeping however the online approach as an additional method, as the results of using both methodologies have proven to be by far more cost-effective and the response rate has been significantly improved. 

How do we do it and what is our solution?

B2B Contact Sample

When it comes to B2B research, the main company phone number has become an obsolete method of conducting interviews. Firstly, because of its time-consuming nature, as well as being a costly endeavor.Secondly, due to the fact that companies have either switched completely or partially to remote work. Obtaining the direct contact of a certain C-level decision maker via email, does reduce the time spent needed for calling, as well as the attempts to complete an interview.

In order to ensure a successfully completed project among decision makers from Managerial level up to C-level, we have updated our Business Sample Database to also feature Contact Person, Titles, Hierarchy, Department, and Named email address of the CP. With these new capabilities we enable our clients the options approach B2B respondents online as well, I In addition to the Direct email addresses of Company Officers, we have expanded this to also feature the direct phone number of the person, whether it’s a direct landline with extension or mobile phone number, the possibility of getting on the phone the right person with a single attempt is a game changer in Business to Business Survey Research. 

Procedure-wise, we use public data from National Business Registers, the company website, and/or social media data for company and contact information, which helps us find different types of job titles, such as MDs, Owners, Presidents, CEOs, CFOs, Founders etc. Another option is generating the emails internally, by combining different email patterns and verifying the inputs for inbox activity.  

Example flow for a B2B Mixed Mode Campaign

When we mention social media for B2B, the first thing that pops out is certainly Linkedin. Nowadays, LinkedIn has become the top network for connecting and reaching out to professionals. This being said, as a part of our Mixed-mode survey, what we offer is a Contact Person that includes as well the direct LinkedIn profile of that professional, as we use it as one of the sources for gathering additional information. 

B2C Sample

Since we have witnessed major success in the B2B projects, we decided to take a step further and start implementing the mixed-mode approach in the B2C projects as well, with a small twist. Using a mixed-mode approach would consist of combining CATI with SMS/ WhatsApp, for active recruitment of a National Representative Online Probability-Based Panel. The SMS surveys can be both used for notifying the respondents that they will be invited for an upcoming survey, to deliver the survey link or even to send reminders for incomplete surveys.  If SMS surveys look a bit obsolete in certain markets, as an alternative, the respondents can be reached by WhatsApp. By specifying the messaging app as a preferred way of communication, a part of the sample will be invited to partake in the online survey link.

An additional alternative related to Probability-based Online panels -Our latest product, Lifepanel, can be combined with a classical CATI method for ensuring a higher response rate. It also features Double-opt-in, sign-up by invite-only, using a Random selection of the telephone RDD frame. Survey invitations can be delivered via email as well, which will ensure a representative result and a high response rate. People that don’t feel comfortable answering a telephone interview can always fill in the online version, whereas, audiences that are primarily elderly and offline respondents, can always be reached out with the traditional CATI telephone interview method. 

Marija Nasevska Stankovska is a seasoned professional with 8 years of experience in sampling and survey research at Sample Solutions. With a master's degree in Communication and Research and fluency in Italian and Spanish, Marija specializes in serving clients from these respective countries.

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