The Lean Marketer Blog

Choosing a Survey Platform for your Business

After the success of our Marketing Budget Benchmarking Study, we decided to update it this year. However, we wanted to improve the process, using what we learned in the previous round. Part of that meant finding a better survey tool, since Google Forms just didn’t answer all of our needs.

In order to find the most user-friendly and efficient survey tool, we conducted some research. We compared four different survey tools, namely QuestionPro, SurveyMonkey, Qualtrics and Google Forms (we decided to reevaluate Google Forms since enough time had gone by and we wanted to make sure we hadn’t missed a great new feature).

Here are some points we would like to share with you in regards to making the right choice when it comes to picking the survey tool that suits you best.

In our comparison, we used three main criteria to evaluate the different survey tools: user-friendliness, survey size options and technical options.

First Impressions Count

As with every other product, the first impression can make the difference. If the product is available for free, like Google Forms, users may be more patient when it comes to figuring out how the different features work, but for freemium or free trial tools (where you start with a free version and then have to pay for an upgraded or full version), the user interface is make-or-break.

Besides the user interface, additional guidance may be available for users. For Google Forms, online tutorials are readily available on websites as well as on YouTube. SurveyMonkey offers a freely available and structured user manual in pdf form and Qualtrics tops it all with excellent customer service. QuestionPro performed very poorly at this first hurdle, since its interface is not intuitive at all, and therefore lags behind its competitors. With Qualtrics in the lead thanks to its practical question preview and easy-to-understand design, it was time for us to get down to the nitty-gritty.

The price-feature tradeoff

Quality usually has its price. But sometimes you can get lucky. Google Forms is not only entirely free, but it also offers a vast amount of possible question types and responses. But unfortunately for us, it is still missing a very important question type necessary for many professional surveys–the set sum question (important if you need budget indications that need to add up to 100%, which we did). In addition, the evaluation of the checkboxes question type turned out to be unsuitable for our purposes.

This leaves you with the options of the test or paid versions of QuestionPro, SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics.  Although QuestionPro and SurveyMonkey’s free versions are virtually immediately excluded for any reasonably-sized survey due to the low number of questions and available responses (100 responses and 10 questions with 100 responses, respectively), Qualtrics offers 250 responses within a maximum of three surveys for free. Not only might the number of responses fit a medium size survey, but Qualtrics also offers the widest range of technical features such as sophisticated question types including click-and-drag pictures, barometers and different types of multiple-choice options, branching and filtering options, various layouts, logo uploads and the possibility to imbed your survey on your homepage.

However, if you need more than 250 responses to your survey, the picture changes dramatically. Both QuestionPro and SurveyMonkey offer several upgrade versions. The first upgrade costs $15/month and $22/month* respectively. Both tools offer similar technical options in their upgrade as Qualtrics offers with their free version. With QuestionPro’s first upgrade, you get an unlimited number of surveys, questions and responses, and with SurveyMonkey you get unlimited questions and 1000 responses. You will be in for a big surprise though when it comes to Qualtrics’ first upgrade: the minimum upgrade available is for 5000 responses, which costs a juicy $5811*. For this princely sum – which is clearly targeted at enterprise uses – you receive additional and sophisticated report creation functions and 24/7 customer service.

And the Winner is… It Depends
Our research has shown that Qualtrics’ free version is a clear winner for a survey with under 250 responses thanks to its user-friendly interface, the wide range of technical features and the excellent customer service. Should you plan on conducting a bigger survey though, you will either have to pay a fee, or compromise on quality, as Google Forms simply cannot keep up with the technical options of other tools on the market.

Interestingly, our research indicates that in case of a bigger survey, SurveyMonkey might be the right choice for you, as it offers similar technical features with its first upgrade as the Qualtics free version and certainly beats Qualtrics on price when it comes to a large number of responses. Thus, in the end, the choice for the right survey tool depends largely on your company’s individual needs.

survey comparison chart1
*SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics post prices in the local currency, so the amounts you see on screen may vary.

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