8 Tips for Choosing the Right Online Survey Tool

Choosing the Right Online Survey Tool

There are many online survey tools currently available. But how do you know which one is right for your research group or company? As with any major purchase, the first step is to understand your organization’s requirements. We thought we’d help by sharing some key questions:

  • What type of questionnaires do you need to program? Almost every web survey tool on the market offers the same basic question types. But if you want to create a more engaging experience for respondents and have the flexibility to ask any type of question, you’ll likely want an online survey tool with more advanced questionnaire design features. And don’t forget to check how the tool renders surveys across devices.
  • What is your invitation strategy? How do you want to invite participants to take the survey: send out email invitations, provide social media links or via a pop up survey? Do you want to handle distribution by yourself or would you like the vendor to handle the invitations? Do you want respondents to be able to take the survey online, offline, or both?
  • How many surveys do you expect to do each year? It’s important to get a firm grip on the number of surveys you expect to run. If your company is already conducting surveys, check how many surveys you have completed in each year historically. That will give you an indication of your likely minimum survey volume. Not all tools handle large volume well.
  • How many users will need to access the survey tool on a regular basis? Is it just you or the entire department? Do certain users, like managers, simply need access to the data reports? Some vendors offer integrated reporting portals at a reduced rate.
  • What other data collection modes are used by your organization? In today’s multi-channel world, many organizations are seeking to augment web surveying by also doing telephone interviewing, face-to-face interviews, in-app etc. Knowing which data collection methods you need to support will help you narrow down the list of possible providers.
  • Do you want to keep the software on premise or would you prefer to have it hosted by the provider? Some survey software providers host the software on their servers. This eliminates the need for you to maintain and incur costs for your own servers. Others enable you to host the solution on your own premises for full control over the data environment.
  • Do you have enough in-house resources to program surveys? Most web surveying tools today are extremely user friendly, with little or no training needed to do your own survey programming. But everyone can use a little, or a lot, of help from time to time. Check if a potential provider offers qualified professional services to give you a hand designing and programming surveys.
  • Is the vendor experienced and reliable? You do want a tried-and-true product. You don’t want to be helping a new company iron out bugs through your surveys!

Do you have any additional tips that might help in picking the right product? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Good luck, and happy surveying!

Jason McGrath,


Planning on How Best to Interview the Next Generation of Survey Participants

With response rate challenges continuing to haunt the industry, we collectively need to start thinking about how to survey the next generation of survey participants. Youth today are very much driven by technology. They are also very used to being entertained and stimulated. Unfortunately, taking a survey isn’t always the most exciting activity one could do with one’s time.

Educating the next generation to the importance of market research is the first step in getting participation. This is a very large initiative and may need the full support of the industry as a whole in terms of marketing and advertising. Schools and universities are probably the best places to start. Something to think about!

There is debate in the industry today

As far as making research fun and exciting, there is debate in the industry today as to the bias “gamifying” surveys creates. I myself have posted before on being aware of the potential traps utilizing technology just because it exists. The participant needs to be thoughtfully providing honest and open responses to questions and not simply enjoy the experience of taking the survey. For this reason, more research needs to be put into investing rather than simply into making surveys games.

New landscapes

There have been a number of new elements added to the survey mix; web/mobile surveying, crowdsourcing, research panels, and market research online communities all provide new sources of data collection participants. Panels lend themselves particularly well to younger respondents due to the fact they are being paid and typically can complete a number of studies quickly and easily using mobile devices (the young person’s trusty side arm!).

Would you like an incentive with that?

Credit: Within Advertising

Credit: Within Advertising

From my experience, the youth today tend to be less motivated and making the surveys easy to get in front of the respondents is going to be key for getting participation. Incentives are also going to play a bigger and bigger role in getting completes.

Last but not least, another consideration is having research topics that are very specifically relevant to the target audience. Having a survey pop up on a teenager’s smart phone as they walk out of McDonald’s on their experience of the meal they just took along with an incentive for a free meal just might do the trick. This employs smart interviewing technologies and expensive incentives but will give the edge on getting the completes needed!

I welcome your thoughts and comments. Do not hesitate to post your thoughts below and I will respond. You can also contact me at jason.mcgrath@voxco.com.

“PS: If you think this is information other research specialists might find useful, tweet about it!’”

Mobile surveys: advantages, tools and perspectives

Mobile surveys are developing very rapidly; they challenge every data collection and follow-up practices we know. The daily integration of tablet devices, for professional uses as much as personal ones, brings research specialists to question their own approach.

The mobile survey: beyond the trends lie the advantages

“Vue” Magazine, March 2013

Mobility is definitely the rising star in the world of technology and communications. ABI Research, the international research company, declared that 2013 was the “year of the tablet”. More than 145 million units should be sold across the world, 20% of which will be used professionally.

Research companies are thus adapting and integrating mobile surveys in their strategies.

The mobile survey: beyond the trends lie the advantages

In the field of market studies and opinion surveys, specialists are continually looking for new ways to increase the response rates of participants. Since the use of mobile devices is more and more popular, polling firms are increasingly resorting to mobile surveys. And with good reason; the benefits abound:

  • A significant drop in production costs
  • Data that is collected and treated in real time
  • A special link is created between interviewer and interviewee during face-to-face surveys
  • A higher response rate due to the flexibility offered to the respondents
  • Mobile devices’ capacity to collect information (geolocation, camera, audio/video recording, etc.).

Data thus collected can be used immediately, without having to go through data transfers and entries. In short, mobile surveys bring the respondents closer to the polling firms (and their clients).

Which is the best mobile survey solution?

There are many mobile survey solutions: the survey software or the mobile survey application, to name but two. Actually, one has to know how to choose the solution that best matches the pollster’s needs.

Here are 3 mobile survey tools that are often used:

  • Software that is connected to Internet
  • Customized software
  • Dedicated applications (app)

In some cases, firms even choose to develop their own pilot projects. Here are 5 points to validate the solution:

  • Has it existed for a while? Is it a beta version?
  • Can it operate on the main tablets and smartphones?
  • Is it specifically conceived for mobile devices?
  • Does it allow for simple and easy updates?
  • Does it offer a demo version that can be tested?

It is important to keep in mind that the best tool will give the best results if it is selected judiciously and according to one’s specific needs.

What is the future of mobile surveys?

The trends prove it: the advent of mobility is revolutionizing the way face-to-face surveys are approached. Research firms are adjusting their strategic position by diversifying their services and integrating new technologies. In a nutshell, they’re all trying to answer one question: “Which communication tools will better hit a precise target in a given place?”

What can we expect for the coming years? How will the manners in which we approach surveys change?

“In the near future, tablets will become the main device in our profession. They will completely replace laptops for face to face surveys and establish itself for all types of panel”, said David Lacan, Director of mobile solutions at Voxco.

However, to take advantage of this effervescence, we will have to monitor certain critical points closely. One of them being platform compatibility; we are speaking here of an attention to the compatibility of mobile survey tools rather than the processes.

“To meet that challenge, compatible solutions will have to be proposed on as many terminals as possible. The mobile Web is thus very relevant in some cases”, adds Mr. Lacan.

Another significant challenge will be to effectively analyze data stemming from such a variety of sources.

The true challenge of the years to come is not to be found in the means of implementation to obtain information, but rather in learning to analyze data that stems from multiple channels“, explains Michel Saulnier, outgoing president of MRIA’s Quebec Chapter and Voxco consultant.

The future of mobile surveys is flourishing. Still embryonic, it is a solution that will prove beneficial to groups of individuals and professionals, whether interviewers or interviewees.

To learn more about mobility in 2013:

Welcome to the “Vue Magazine” LinkedIn Group of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA).

“PS: If you think this is information other research specialists might find useful, tweet about it!’”

Posted by Eric Perreault

Marketing Research in Australia, and the Impact of IT!

As the 2008 global economic crisis provoked a worldwide downturn in marketing research activities in 2009 and 2010, the industry today is reorganizing and set to grow again.

According to a study by ESOMAR, the world ranking of most dynamic countries in market research remain somewhat unchanged. Only China moved up to rank 6th among countries that invest the most in that sector. The United States still ranks number one and countries such as Canada and Australia have fallen back one rank. After the inflation of 2009-2010, emerging countries in Latin America are displaying growth rates of 14%. The industry is renewing itself and must not only contend with a new global economic environment, it must also deal with issues linked to the integration of new information technologies (IT) in data collection processes.

Web 2.0, mobile telephony and the explosion of tablet devices all contributed to changed collection methods. At the global level, “online” data collection today represents the main investment technology in the field of research. According to a study by AIMIA (The Digital Industry Association for Australia), Australia is no exception and steers most of its marketing research budgets (30% versus 24% worldwide) towards “online” data collection methods.

Some factors may explain this trend for online surveys. First, the high cost of CATI work, which the minimum wage is about $ 25.00 / hour for the Australian interviewers, has contributed greatly to the prevalence of online data collection. The Australian market has proven largely adverse to the off-shoring of call centre work which does contribute to the growth of alternative data collection methodologies.

However, more robust sampling methodologies cannot always be credibly serviced by online panels which are typically not representative of the Australian population. Therefore, government and social research firms remain major drivers in the perpetuation of CATI in Australia, with many large CATI facilities still servicing this need. Commercial research however can and will opt for the online option where possible.

Secondly, Smartphone capability is increasingly becoming the sole point of contact for an important section of the population. The scarcity of accurate and productive traditional telephone databases is making cell phone contact a more popular option than previously. As a result, we may see more growth in this data collection mode.

A recent study comparing 43 countries shows that the penetration of smartphones is among the most significant in the case of Australian adults, with an ownership rate of about 66%. Furthermore, one out of three households owns a tablet device. Australian professionals state that over 50% of smartphone owners have developed a real addiction to social networks. These new behaviours will fundamentally alter the current research methods used in Australia. Contrary to global practices favouring quantitative surveys (17% versus 76%), Australian research companies use qualitative data collection methods more frequently (more than 30% versus 60% for quantitative surveys). When you know that online data collection only represents 1% of the tools used to research information within the framework of qualitative studies, you can easily imagine that the Australian market is likely to turn to more quantitative studies in the coming years.

Marketing research will need to deal with two fundamental factors in order to define the methodologies of tomorrow: adaptation to the new rules of global consumption[i] and the permanent revolution of IT.

[i] Middle class development in emerging countries.

Other sources of relevant information for that market:

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