This is the second article in a four-part series explaining how to implement a great online survey. Read the first part here: Should You Create an Online Survey? We Explain the Benefits & Basic Terms.
Well-developed online survey tools will allow you to easily define your survey questions and possible responses and then send users a link to the survey – all in a free or basic version. Here we will compare the four most popular survey tools on the market: SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang, Google Forms, and SurveyGizmo.
All of these tools offer free versions which can be limited in two ways:
- the number of surveys/questions
- the number of responses
Upgrading to a paid version will typically provide more access to data reporting, advanced statistical analysis, and more customization options.
If you are simply looking to get your feet wet – say, you just want to do some audience research to see who is listening, watching or reading, or product/brand analysis – you’re most likely going to be doing very basic analysis of the responses to open-ended questions. One of the free or low-cost tools will probably work fine in this instance. Some of the more sophisticated survey packages are likely to be considerably more difficult to use. They offer more benefits with larger sample sizes and when comparing and analyzing a number of different specific variables.
Whichever tool you decide to use, take advantage of the free version and take it for a trial run.
Below is a brief comparison of the four most popular free online survey tools. While the paid versions are discussed below, the chart at the very end only compares the free or basic versions of each tool.
SurveyMonkey is perhaps the best-known survey tool in the field, offering a handy keyword search feature to help users navigate multiple surveys, security assurance, and question-logic add-ons to maximize the efficiency and accuracy of your surveys. SurveyMonkey offers a free basic version, useful for small and informal surveys. This version allows for very little customization of themes, a limited number of templates, a few already created surveys, no downloads of reports or data, and 15 different question types. You can include up to 10 questions and collect up to 100 responses per free survey.
With a well-designed survey creation and editing system, along with vast options for collecting responses – including generating code to produce a small pop-up window for your website: “We are conducting a survey…” – SurveyMonkey has become the preferred choice for a number of associations.
For those looking for a no-nonsense survey tool that does the basics and does them well, SurveyMonkey is a reliable option.
Zoomerang is similar to SurveyMonkey in many respects, but offers a somewhat more powerful package for somewhat more money.
With Zommerang’s free version, you have access to an unlimited number of surveys, a few templates, 15 question formats, the ability to branch questions and use skip logic, more customization options, and the ability to upload email contacts, publish by URL and/or e-mail. You can include up to 12 questions and collect up to 100 responses per free survey.
The more useful Pro package ($149/year for nonprofits) includes for unlimited surveys, questions, and respondents. The Premium package ($449/year for nonprofits) includes mobile surveys, comparison reports, multi-user survey sharing and collaboration, and statistical analysis.
Zoomerang is not quite as intuitive as SurveyMonkey, and it can be more difficult to learn. However, between the two basic versions, Zoomerang does offer more extensive reporting, with easy-to-read graphs on the first 50 respondents.
3.) Google Forms
Forms is basically a way to conduct a survey, with responses added automatically to a spreadsheet. Since its launch, Google Forms has been an easy and accessible way to collect large amounts of data. Best of all, it is absolutely free!
If you’re looking for a free service for small-scale surveying, this is hands down the best option out there. While other tools have a free option, they usually limit the amount of surveys and responses.
Although Google Forms only offers six types of questions, you do have the ability to add skip logic and branching questions. Likewise, Google Forms offers an unlimited amount of surveys and space for well over 1,000 responses. (You can reach up to 200,000, depending on the number of questions you have). Survey themes are robust; e-mail- or web-embedding is easy; and there are a number of ways to visualize your data.
You can either embed surveys into a blog post or site or share a link to the survey. Any responses are collected in a spreadsheet. As recipients complete the form, rows in a Google spreadsheet are populated, including a timestamp.
Currently the company is upgrading its Forms tool in Google Docs, adding a number of new features. Users now have a more compact, grid-like form in which to collect data. They can now quickly gather responses for a group of similar questions by simply labeling a few columns and creating as many rows as they like.
Summary charts also have clearer formatting of statistics and now support right-to-left text input, helping out those users whose written languages go from right-to-left. Developers can also integrate forms with their own applications and pre-populate a form with data.
SurveyGizmo offers a free version, as well as a low-cost pro solution ($19/month) with some advanced features, supporting up to 1,000 responses per month and basic logic. A range of more advanced packages are available from $49/month to $160/month.
At all levels, SurveyGizmo offers basic piping, fully customizable survey look and feel, and the ability to embed images and videos hosted on your own website. More advanced levels offer many randomization options (question options, questions per survey page, and pages themselves), skip logic, and more.
SurveyGizmo offers an API for integrating survey functionality into websites, blogs and other applications, including integration with Salesforce.com. With a fresh contemporary look and feel, SurveyGizmo allows for a build that immediately attracts the eye and imagination.
Another advantage is the Dashboard, which neatly displays all your surveys. It provides an instant view of the current number of surveys completed and in process with a map, daily response rate and satisfaction chart. SurveyGizmo provides a comprehensive training library, including videos, and you can have the starter course delivered by e-mail over 7 days. (A 25-50% discount is available for nonprofits).
This tool offers 23 question types along with an unlimited number of surveys and questions.The response limit is relatively generous at 250 per survey. Cannot email survey like. offers a wide range of packages for small to large organizations.
** All the tools described above provide tutorials and FAQ’s for navigating their systems and building your survey. Some do offer phone support, but this usually comes at an additional cost.
Tiffany Henderson is currently an I/O psychologist for the Government and the Lead Organizational Consultant for her agency. Working in three different labs/research organizations, she has led teams through implementing multiple online systems/software and e-learning solutions and management information systems.
Next in the four-part series: 13 Steps to Building an Online Survey.