How to choose a Survey Platform to work with ResearchDesk™

ResearchDesk™ is the DIY tool allowing you to survey Embee’s high quality panelists with the minimum of effort and cost. However, ResearchDesk™ does not provide the means of coding your survey. For that, you need to write your survey on a platform of your choice.

If you’re stuck without a survey platform, this quick guide is for you.

main image showing stylized logos of several survey platforms floating around

Key considerations when choosing a platform:

  • Compatibility with ResearchDesk™: your survey platform needs a minimum set of functions to work with ResearchDesk™: it needs to able to receive and return a variable from the URL string, and it needs to be able to send respondents to a webpage that includes this variable. Many free or consumer-grade survey platforms do not have this capability, including free versions of SurveyMonkey and Google Forms.
  • Total cost: survey platforms that are compatible with ResearchDesk™ tend to be subscription services. Consider the cost of subscriptions against the functions that they provide, and look out for any incremental hidden costs, especially on the lowest cost subscriptions.
  • How will you export the data?: You will probably want to be able to export the data. Almost all platforms allow exporting of individual responses into CSV, meaning you can import into Excel. Excel is a quick way to analyze your survey, but requires a reasonable amount of Excel knowledge. (If PivotTables, or the COUNTIFS function are alien, you might not want to go up that learning curve for one survey, albeit shallow). Some platforms allow exporting of the data into SPSS, SAS, PSPP or other dedicated statistical analysis tools, but unless you want top invest in a steep learning and sometimes pay a lot, this won’t be the best option unless you have access to a friendly and suitably equipped research analyst. Therefore, you might prefer to use the tools built into the survey platform. You should evaluate these, if you expect to use them.
  • Mobile friendliness: to work with ResearchDesk™ your survey needs to be mobile friendly. Most platforms are pretty good, and we recommend that you assess how mobile friendly it is by seeing how it handles a matrix question.
  • Will it look professional? being able to remove the survey platforms branding, and control the look of your survey will make the survey look professional. If your survey looks mickey mouse, you can reasonably expect respondents to give mickey mouse answers. A previous blog highlights some of the considerations when making a survey work for mobile, and the way your survey platform lays out questions is a key consideration when keeping your questions on the page.
  • Logic functions: survey platforms often distinguish the cheaper subscriptions from the more expensive subscriptions by the logic that can be applied to questions. Logic includes anything from simple branching (if respondent says “No” to this question, then skip the next question), through to answer piping (only providing answer options that the respondent checked in a previous question), question piping (having a question include the answers from a previous question), complex screenouts and quotas (screening out or quota’ing out respondents based on specific answers or combinations of answers), exclusive answers (allowing a “None of the Above” answer option in a set of checkboxes to uncheck the other answers) and rotational groups (asking the same set of questions repeatedly for the answers that were checked). In the extreme cases, you can actually write code and create hidden variables. First thing first: decide what you need, then second, check what platforms support your need.

Platforms reviewed (roughly from least to highest price):

    • Google Forms: google forms is not compatible with ResearchDesk™
    • Zoho Survey: Zoho survey is part of the Zoho suite, and is compatible with ResearchDesk™ when using the Pro package or higher. Zoho is the lowest priced compatible survey platform, at less than $50 for a single month, or around $400 for a single user for a year and under $1000 for a team for a year. Most logic functions are supported, and data can be exported, but analysis needs to be performed in a separate tool. Zoho Survey is a great choice if you already use other Zoho suite products.
    • Typeform: Typeform creates beautiful surveys, though the free platform is limited to only 100 answers. Unless you pay for the most expensive platform, you have little control over the appearance of your survey. There are some nifty sharing features in Typeform, like POSTing responses as they come in to a link of your choice. Typeform Pro+ (the most expensive package) costs under $700 for a year, or under $60 for a single month.
    • SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey is one of the most well-known platforms. The free package is not compatible with ResearchDesk™, but the Advantage and Premier services perform most basic logic functions. Because it has a seat-licensing model, the total cost of SurveyMonkey can be quite high, and although it has many of the Logic functions, it is missing some of the more commonly used features to make a survey flow nicely. You need the Premier package to remove the SurveyMonkey branding from your survey, and this costs $1,188 per year per user.
    • SurveyGizmo: SurveyGizmo is priced along the lines of SurveyMonkey, but has more advanced logic features, and natively provides an attractive survey. In particular, the ranking question in SurveyGizmo is very mobile friendly. The learning curve for SurveyGizmo is high, but the documentation is extensive and well written. One thing to watch with SurveyGizmo is that there are two sets of features — pro-consumer and enterprise, each of which has several sub variants. Be sure to check what you’re signing up to. Of the pro-consumer versions, Explorer has very limited logic capabilities, but is well priced at $35 per month or $300 per year. Adventurer has some logic limitations, but is perfectly usable in most cases, and costs $135 per month or $1,020 per year. The Voyager plan contains all features needed for all logic and some very interesting question types and reporting capabilities, but costs $240 per month, or $1,800 per year.
    • KeySurvey: KeySurvey is one of the cheapest full featured survey platforms available, and provides all the features for even the most complex mobile survey. KeySurvey pricing is only available on request, and their business model is dependent on the number of completes.
    • Decipher: Decipher, a SurveyMonkey company, is much more polished than SurveyMonkey and has much better design, reporting and analysis capabilities. Of course, this is at a cost. Decipher pricing is available in request, and is based primarily on the level of support required.
    • Qualtrics: Qualtrics is a fully featured solution and functions extremely well. This is definitely a professional package.
    • Confirmit: Confirmit is used by some of the largest market research companies and, although expensive, provides the full suite of features and excellent consulting services.

If you want to discuss how to choose a survey platform, or if you don’t know where to start, then contact us.