A Review of Online Survey Tools
Whether it is to gather information to guide new programs or to receive feedback on old ones, collecting data is a necessary part of every organization’s operations. The rise of the online survey has made it easy to gather data for little to no cost.
Most online survey tools allow you to send a variety of customized surveys directly to constituents, assist with data analysis and reporting, and provide easy integration for publication through a variety of media. Moreover, most survey providers offer short-term (month-to-month) payment plans that allow flexibility in how you can use services. If most of the time all you need is a simple survey, then the free plan may work. However, if you need more advanced options for a large survey to span many weeks, upgrade your plan temporarily, then downgrade again when your project is complete.
Drawing from personal experience and reports by others, here are brief reviews of the four most popular online survey providers. Options range from pared-down free surveys to robustly advanced packages costing hundreds of dollars a month. Finding the right plan will depend on your organization’s needs.
- Easy-to-use interface.
- Great for small and informal surveys.
- Easy to navigate through multiple surveys.
- Free plan offers little customization, no report downloads, limited questions/responses.
- Many of the advanced options are available in cheaper (and sometimes free) plans with other survey providers.
Overall: SurveyMonkey is great for the quick and easy survey. Survey creation is simple, and survey management is intuitive. However, if you are looking for something more advanced, other products do things better for similar prices.
- Similar to SurveyMonkey, but a more powerful package, especially on reporting options.
- Offers discounts to non-profit organizations.
- Building a survey is less intuitive than in SurveyMonkey.
- The free plan has limited options and abilities.
Overall: While Zoomerang allows for more complex surveys than SurveyMonkey, its interface is usually considered more complicated. When it comes down to it, Zoomerang is a safe, middle-of-the-road option.
- Offers a robust set of options with a free account plan that other online survey providers offer only in mid-level plans. A comparison of the free plans of SurveyGizmo, SurveyMonkey, and Zoomerang can be found here.
- Easily integrates with numerous media, including Facebook and Twitter, to diversify delivery.
- Offers discounts to educational and non-profit organizations.
- Cannot embed survey in email messages.
Overall: Many sing the praises of SurveyGizmo, and the comparison chart is pretty convincing. However, if you ever need just a simple survey, the lack of email embedding may be a deal-killer.
- Robust, advanced options.
- Designed for in-depth, research surveys.
- Offers discounts for non-profits.
- Free plan allows one survey only.
- Full package is on the expensive side.
Overall: If you’re willing to pay thousands per year for a survey tool, consider Qualtrics. The strength of its package is equal to the depth of your research. If not, skip this one.
Note: HigherEd Insight serves as the independent evaluator for Lumina Foundation's adult college completion strategy.