Is it worth doing surveys

The best online survey tools for professionals

Alexander Roth, Thomas Joos

In this article we will tell you what advantages surveys can bring for companies and which specific online survey tools can support them.

“It doesn't cost anything to ask” - this is a saying that companies have always used to find out more about their customers and their needs. In the consultation, the customer advisor asks potential buyers about their problem and the expectations of the purchase of a product or service in order to be able to make them the best possible offer.

Many owners of small businesses and craft businesses therefore forego additional systematic surveys of their (potential) customers - according to the principle: "We know our target group, so there is no need for additional effort." Organization of a survey and the subsequent evaluation of the results always generate a certain amount of effort and therefore costs.

Nevertheless, it does not make economic sense to do without systematic market surveys in the form of surveys of existing customers and those who are to become one. Because a single offer that has passed the market can cost companies their livelihood. In addition, a whole range of interesting survey tools are now available on the Internet as an inexpensive or free service. And finally, in addition to the pure gain in knowledge, surveys offer a whole range of possible additional advantages.

For example, the general knowledge gained from a customer survey about certain problems and how to deal with them can be used for direct customer discussions as well as for press work or social media communication. Concrete statements about one's own products and services help to optimize one's own offer - and, if necessary, serve to control subcontractors. Another aspect is the acquisition of addresses of potential buyers through the survey. However, the strict requirements of the Data Protection Act must be observed.

In order for companies to really benefit from the results of their surveys, a systematic approach is essential. It is not the selected tool that determines the quality of the results, but rather the questions asked and the selected target group for the survey. The common tools support the user in different ways. For example, there are specific survey tools available for special target groups such as Facebook or Twitter users, which are integrated into the respective platform. In addition, the systems differ in the number of question types supported (open, closed, single choice, multiple choice) as well as in the possibility of controlling the type and number of questions depending on the participant's answers.

A simple example of how users can achieve short-term benefits with the help of surveys is provided by Doodle - you must not confuse the Google survey tool Doodle with the Doodles, also from Google, with which Google recognizes famous people, discoveries or events. The online appointment service shows how the complexity of surveys increases with the number of possible answers. A point that even experienced market researchers do not pay enough attention to. The result of their filigree, nested questionnaires are often more data, but they provide less clarity than a more woodcut-like survey.

Here are our top online survey tools

1. Google Drive forms

EnlargeSimilar questions of the same type can be created quickly and easily on Google using the copy function.

User-friendly, as Google products are usually, the survey platform from Google Forms guides the user step by step from the creation of a questionnaire to the publication to the evaluation of the recorded data. The user of the free service can assign a ready-made design to the questionnaire, choose between nine different question types, create interdependent relationships between questions and send questionnaires manually by e-mail or integrate them into external websites via a link. While the questionnaire is being created, the current status can be displayed live in the participant view. The clear structure is practical: Regardless of whether the design, the design of the questions or the storage of the answers in tables - all settings and information can be made on one page.

2. MaQ Online

EnlargeSimple but functional: like the demo tour, the maQ-online product is presented as a whole.

MaQ Make a Questionnaire is strikingly simple. The free service, which is aimed at “researchers and those who want to become one”, makes it possible to generate questionnaires with a generator and to output them online. No knowledge of HTML or programming is required. The user clicks the questionnaire together piece by piece. Once the survey is complete, the provider recommends three ways to make it public: via a link in an email, as an embedded frame - or as a handout with the access data. During the survey phase, the results can be downloaded as often as required in CSV format and imported into applications such as SPSS or Excel for evaluation. Practical: The demo tour shows how to use the tool step by step.

3. LimeSurvey

EnlargeBefore the survey goes live, LimeSurvey asks again for the most important settings that cannot be changed after publication.

LimeSurvey is a survey service platform with a special billing model: creating questionnaires and up to 25 answers per month are free. To pay for additional answers, the user can purchase packages of 1000 to 100,000 answers. The complete range of functions of the service is available regardless of the intensity of use. Functionally, LimeService contains everything you need to create and manage an unlimited number of surveys. Interesting for international surveys: the tool is available in more than 80 languages. In the case of surveys in the USA, the survey can also be hosted there to enable participants to respond faster. Otherwise the platform runs on a server in Germany. Here LimeSurvey also guarantees compliance with the GDPR.

4. Online surveys

EnlargeIn order to explain the extensive functionality of the service, online surveys rely on learning videos.

"The original", as online surveys claim, addresses companies, research and private users with its offer. Compared to the competing offers, online surveys come up with a large number of screenshots and explanations on the page, which stand in clear contrast to the repeatedly emphasized simplicity of the solution. This is particularly evident when it comes to pricing: In addition to various package offers, including a free one, which only includes one survey with up to 20 participants, there is also a calculator that can be used to calculate the exact price per survey.

However, if you lose track of the variety of options for functions and price models for online surveys, you can hope that the provider is available to its customers with a full-service offer from development to survey evaluation if required.

5. Q-Set

EnlargeThe user interface of Q-Set is not suspicious of the design price, but is clear and understandable.