Five things you need to consider when choosing the best online survey tools for your business.


“What is the best online survey tool?”

This is a question I am often asked.

There are literally hundreds of websites offering online tools,  some are very basic while others have a number of great features and add-ons.    Most of them offer a very limited free survey tool with the opportunity to upgrade in order to get more features.   Even among the premium packages the features vary widely, which means that the best software offering depends very much on the individual’s needs.

If you only want to ask a few simple questions of less than a hundred people then a free package may be all you need.  However if you want to survey a number of customers, and you want to be able to use more complicated branch and skip logic, then you may want to consider a premium option.

I have put together a list of 5 things to consider when choosing an online software package.

1.  How many how responses are you likely to get?

Some of the free tools have very tight restrictions on the number of responses per survey, or per month.    This may be fine if you are just asking one or two questions of visitors to your website, however not so good if you are planning on launching a new product or want to interview a large customer base.

2.  The ability to customize your template.

Most of the online software programs have standard templates and a URL address that includes the name of the software provider in the link, not only that but once the survey is completed the respondent is returned to their home page, not yours.   Again ok if all you want is to ask a few straight forward questions of your website visitors, but for a serious market research survey it looks very amateurish.   Unfortunately a lot on online survey companies will only allow you to customize your URLs or add a logo if you buy one of the most expensive packages.

3.  What do you want to do with the data you collected?

This is something you need to think about before you start any survey.   A number of the free options do not allow you to down load your data.  If you pay a small fee you may be able to do online cross tabs.  However if you want to download your data into a CSV file to carry out more in-depth analysis, you will need to upgrade to one of the premium options

4.  Piping and branching

Piping is when you prefill a question based on respondent’s answers to previous question.  Branching is when you direct customers to different questions based on their previous answers.   Some software will only take the respondent through in question order regardless of whether the question is applicable or not.  Some software even on their most expensive packages will still only have limited options so check this out in the free trial before committing too much money up front.

5.  Advanced survey logic

We want to look professional and don’t want to annoy our respondents by asking them questions that are not applicable based on their previous answers.   However, a number of software packages only allow you to skip questions based on the answer to the previous question, not two or three questions back, unless you pay for the very top package. Even then there is one very well-known online survey tool that will not allow you to do this even when you have purchased their most expensive package.   Often it is a good idea to write your questionnaire and think about the advanced logic before buying any online software.

There are a number of different online survey software options available.  To find the best one, it is good idea to assess your business needs and use the criteria above to find the best value solution to for you.

Check back here as I will be reviewing some of the better options soon.   If you have any questions or you want any more advice, go to my contact page and send me an email via the contact box, and I will get back to you.

One Response to Five things you need to consider when choosing the best online survey tools for your business.
  1. online survey software
    June 20, 2012 | 2:08 am

    Hello! Thanks for writing a great article. Bookmark added :) To contribute, I thought I would add that I find it helpful to consider the social aspect of your research needs. Finding a survey tool that can integrate with Facebook etc. is a definite plus in my books.

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