Online Surveys for Research

“The Value of Online Surveys,” a study by Joel R. Evans and Anil Mathur, evaluates the pros, cons and effectiveness of online surveys as a research method.  The study found that “if conducted properly, online surveys have significant advantages over other formats. However, it is imperative that the potential weaknesses of online surveys be mitigated and that online surveys only be used when appropriate.” It then provides detailed breakdowns of the specific strengths and weaknesses and best practices for conducting online surveys.

Online Survey Tools

I’ve used both Qualtrics and Survey Monkey. I think they’re both similarly easy to use. One observation is that 3 years ago when I used them, Qualtrics looked more professional and I thought their reporting was put together a little better. After looking at both of them again recently, it looks like both have developed significantly, and Survey Monkey especially seems to have made changes that make it more professional. That being said, Qualtrics and Opinion Lab seem to offer more comprehensive business solutions, based on how they present their offerings. For example, Qualtircs offers a “Research Suite,” “Site Intercept,” and “Qualtrics 360.” Although these could be functions easily availible in Survey Monkey, they don’t present them that way and depend on the potential customer to figure out how to apply all the features, which I don’t think is as effective.

One thing I found particularly interesting is that while Qualtrics and Survey Monkey’s websites are very similar in terms of structure and information presented, Opinion Lab’s differs in a few significant ways. It focuses on mobile immediately, which is a growing focus for business, since both web usage, development and ad spend is projected to continue shifting heavily toward mobile. Also, it includes CTAs (Call-to-Actions) that are ROI-focused like “Increase online conversion” and “drive foot traffic to your store.” So to me, it seems to address business goals more than the other two, at least in terms of marketing.

Another really interesting thing is that both Qualtrics and Survey Monkey allow companies to integrate their surveys with Salesforce, or other CRM applications. This means you can program the surveys to trigger off of certain actions completed on your site. I think this is a neat feature from a development and business perspective, but that some people may find it intrusive. I did not see this feature on OpinionLab’s website, but that doesn’t mean they don’t offer it, too.

Qualtrics and Opinion Lab don’t give pricing details online, which leads me to believe they are more expensive than Survey Monkey. This may make Survey Monkey better for smaller businesses, although it’s quite possible that if the user designing the surveys is an expert research methodology, they are all equally as effective. It would be interesting to see comparisons between the products or expert reviews/analysis.

I used Qualtrics to test out designing and launching an online survey, and I thought it was very easy to use and the reporting was easy to understand.


1.) What tactics have made you decide to take online surveys before?

2.) What is your general opinion of taking surveys online, as a user? Do you prefer it over more traditional methods?

3.) Do you have any privacy concerns with online surveys? Qualtrics, Survey Monkey and Opinion Lab all guarantee security, but is that enough?


One thought on “Online Surveys for Research

  1. First, I agree with your comment about packaging. Ten companies could have the same features, but if one of them packages those features for specific audiences, they would have a much better advantage.

    I mostly take online surveys for companies I know/like/trust. If I have an interest in their future, then I don’t mind taking the time to give feedback.

    I definitely prefer taking surveys online. It’s quicker and easier. I don’t have to erase any mistakes. I don’t have to think about what questions to skip. I don’t have to take it to the mailbox. You get the point. Filling out surveys fits into my everyday schedule better than filling out a paper survey.

    You bring up a good point. I don’t think any company can guarantee security. No company is too big or secure to be hacked. Look at the breaches the government has had or banks or Dropbox or any other company who handles sensitive data. On the other hand, I think surveys are lower risk target. I don’t think I’ve ever filled out a survey that, if it were to fall into the wrong hands, would be compromising. If I were a public official or someone who didn’t want their private life to be public, I think I’d be more careful about online surveys.

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