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Survey Software

Survey software enables the efficient design and management of electronic surveys, polls, and questionnaires for market research, measuring customer satisfaction, and collecting employee feedback. Online Survey software automates designing, scheduling, publishing, and conducting surveys while featuring a variety of user feedback formats including radio buttons, check boxes, drop-down menus, and free-form text fields. Survey tools also accommodate a variety of methodological approaches and provide data reporting capabilities. Survey software is related to Business Intelligence software and Reporting software. Find the best survey app for your organisation in Australia.

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Survey Software Buyers Guide

Introduction

Survey software allows users to design, carry out, and otherwise manage electronic surveys, polls, questionnaires, and other similar methods of gathering information from a sample of people. Generally, the aim of these surveys is to conduct market research, measure customer satisfaction levels, understand public opinion, or access feedback from employees or other stakeholders. Additionally, the best survey software allows surveys to be scheduled in advance, which enables users to measure opinion at a particular time or in response to a specific event.

Aside from the creation and publication of surveys, applications of this kind can help users to monitor the actual performance of a survey, such as the number of people that have taken part, the number of people that have stopped before completing the survey, and how long the survey takes. This then makes it easier to optimise surveys so that as many people as possible actually take part, making the eventual conclusions or interpretations more reliable.

Some online survey software is focused on a particular type of survey, such as employee engagement survey software, which is specifically designed to allow users to understand levels of engagement within a workforce. The best survey software, however, will facilitate the creation and distribution of a variety of different survey types, which may be aimed at diverse audiences, and which may be intended to serve numerous different purposes.

The nature of the software itself and the various ways in which it can be used means that it is generally seen to be closely related to market research software and customer satisfaction software solutions, and it can potentially replace the need to use these applications. Moreover, it can work in conjunction with solutions like review management software, in order to assist businesses with their reputation management efforts.

Survey applications can include different features and options, although the core features are likely to be similar for the majority of software solutions in this category, and some of those features are so common that they can be considered to be category-defining. With this in mind, regardless of the precise application a user chooses to download, they should expect to be able to achieve the following:

  • Create surveys in a variety of different formats, including multiple-choice and open answer
  • Distribute customised surveys through numerous methods, including email and social media
  • Monitor the results and performance of each individual survey, and make changes
  • Produce, modify and save survey templates, allowing work to be repurposed more easily

What is survey software?

Survey software, also known as online survey software, is designed to allow users to create, distribute and manage electronic surveys in a variety of formats, including polls and questionnaires. These surveys can be produced for a number of reasons, with market research being the most common. Businesses may use surveys to gain a better sense of public opinion, or to monitor current levels of customer satisfaction, while surveys can also be targeted towards specific sample groups, or towards the general population, depending on the aims and objectives.

In addition to allowing for the creation and distribution of surveys to targeted individuals and groups—and providing access to the results of those surveys—the very best survey software will allow users to also monitor the performance of their surveys. This can be in terms of how many people start the survey, how many finish the survey, how many leave the survey before completion, and how long the survey takes people to complete. This information can be crucial for optimising content so that participation is maximised and the results become more dependable.

Some online survey tools of this kind are intended for specific purposes, such as carrying out market research for businesses or, in the case of employee engagement survey software, measuring the performance and overall participation levels of individual employees or the workforce as a whole. However, on the other hand, some software solutions are more comprehensive, all-purpose options intended for use with surveys of almost any kind.

What are the benefits of survey software?

The benefits of online survey software are numerous and are mostly focused around the idea of making it easier to create, distribute, interpret and otherwise manage electronic surveys for market research and other purposes. Of course, with other options available on the market, it is useful to explore some of the more specific benefits associated with using survey tools of this type. The most significant and useful benefits of using the software include:

  • More efficient survey creation: one of the most obvious and most important benefits linked to the use of online survey software is the ability to quickly and easily create electronic surveys for a wide range of purposes. Most applications will allow surveys of different types to be created, and templates will often be provided in order to speed this up even more. Once surveys have been created, it will generally be possible to amend an existing survey so that changes can be made if needs change, while surveys can also be easily repurposed to achieve different objectives. This all means that surveys can be swiftly created, even without advanced technical knowledge.
  • Multiple options for distribution: the best survey software solutions will support numerous methods for actually distributing the surveys that have been created, allowing them to be targeted towards specific individuals or groups, using a variety of methods. The options here are likely to include email marketing, which is where surveys are sent to specific email addresses, along with social media marketing, where the survey is distributed and carried out using social networking platforms. When users are able to select different distribution options, they are more likely to be able to reach the demographics they are trying to target with their survey, making it more useful as a means of gathering data, carrying out market research, or identifying significant trends.
  • Access to survey performance metrics: while the creation and distribution of surveys is of the utmost importance, it is worth highlighting the fact that businesses, marketing professionals, and other users may also need to gain an understanding of how their survey is performing. Without the ability to analyse performance in this way, polls and questionnaires become significantly less reliable. For instance, a survey may be sent to existing customers in order to gain an understanding of how they feel about a particular product or a particular service that is being offered. The answers to the survey may come back and provide an indication of this, but the business may be unaware that more than half of the customers who opened the survey then closed it before completing it, meaning they have only received the opinions of a small section of the target demographic. High-quality survey applications can provide solutions to this through the use of metrics like click-through rates and bounce rates.
  • Careful management of survey budgets: many surveys are sent out with incentives for completion, and although this can make it more likely that recipients will actually take part in the survey, it also means that careful management is essential. After all, if more people participate than is anticipated, it can easily lead to a situation where costs spiral out of control too. Therefore, a major advantage associated with using survey apps is the ability to manage budgets. In some cases, it is also possible to set limits on the number of participants—or the number of people taking part from a particular location—so that the budget for a campaign can never be exceeded.
  • Increased reliability of information: carefully creating a survey, setting controls, ensuring the survey is sent to the right people, and monitoring specific performance metrics can all combine to ensure the information that is gathered from a poll or questionnaire is more useful and dependable. Through the use of the tools provided by high-quality software solutions, it becomes easier to reduce or eliminate issues like bias and avoid some of the other problems that may adversely affect the quality or reliability of the answers provided.
  • More accurate survey data capture: finally, a significant part of turning surveys into useful market research involves the entry of relevant data captured from survey answers. However, when this is a manual process, there is the possibility of human error and, in the worst cases, this can then lead to inaccurate conclusions being drawn. Software solutions can assist with this by automating much of the data capture process. As a result, not only will this make data from surveys more accurate, it can also speed up the entire process, and data can be gathered automatically, without the need for any human user to be present at the time.

What are some of the most common features of online survey software?

The features of online survey software are primarily intended to assist with the creation, management, and distribution of electronic surveys, while also helping businesses and other users to get the most from the data stemming from those surveys. Although the precise features and options available will vary from one app to the next, the core features tend to be fairly similar. This means that the majority of survey applications will offer the following features:

  • Survey builder: create questionnaires, polls, and other surveys through the use of built-in tools. Most software solutions of this kind will provide support for a variety of different question types, including multiple-choice questions using radio buttons, multiple-choice questions using drop-down menus, ratings scale questions, or a combination of these question types. Crucially, the very best survey tools will allow for the creation of surveys that are logical, easy-to-understand, user-friendly, and genuinely useful. Additionally, the surveys can be created so that data is easy to access for marketers, businesses, and others who use them for purposes like market research, employee engagement monitoring, and customer satisfaction tracking.
  • Multi-channel distribution: send surveys to people through a variety of different channels, in order to maximise reach and levels of participation. Some of the channels that may be supported within survey platforms or software solutions include surveys sent via email, surveys hosted on corporate websites, and social media surveys. A single survey can be optimised for and distributed across all of these different platforms, or surveys can be optimised for one particular channel, depending on business needs or personal preference.
  • Reporting/analytics: view important information about the performance of surveys and analyse the ways in which participants have responded. In many cases, this will include real-time data, such as bounce rates, completion rates, and the average amount of time taken to complete a survey. Additionally, the reporting and analytics feature may also allow for the creation of reports that focus on the survey responses. This can potentially make it easier to understand the most popular responses to questions, along with the questions that caused the greatest diversity in terms of public opinion. Information can generally be presented in a number of different formats so that it can be easily read, understood, and delivered to either internal stakeholders or the public.
  • Customisable templates: utilise survey templates to speed up the creation process and customise those templates so that they can be more easily re-used in the future. Many businesses, marketers, and individuals need to create surveys on a regular basis, and templates can help to provide a level of consistency in terms of format, layout, and content. With that being said, one of the single biggest plus points associated with templates is the ability to produce surveys quickly and easily, even without an in-depth knowledge of how the software works.
  • Question library: build, maintain, and refer back to a centralised question library, where users can access previous questions that have been asked in surveys and easily add those questions to new surveys they are creating. Storing questions in a library in this way can dramatically speed up the process behind survey creation and can also allow the wording of questions to be optimised over time. As a result, questions are more likely to be fully understood and generate answers that are useful to marketers or to a business as a whole.
  • Email marketing: create mailing lists and email marketing campaigns, with links to a survey contained within the main body of the email. From there, it is possible to track the performance of the email marketing campaign with metrics like click-through rates. Campaign information can typically be adjusted so that a different audience or demographic is targeted and so people who opt-out of receiving emails of this kind are removed from the mailing list. In many cases, corporate survey tools will offer a variety of options for automation, too, making the creation and management of email marketing campaigns significantly more efficient.
  • Question branching: create branching surveys, which provide users with different questions, depending on their answers to previous questions. To provide an example, a Capterra survey on sustainability found that 61 per cent of Australian consumers are reassessing the way they buy in order to make more sustainable choices. Using business survey software, it would be relatively easy to set this up as a branching question, with those 61 per cent being given a follow-up question that differs from the follow-up question given to the remaining 39 per cent of participants. A key benefit of this is the ability to ensure all questions asked are actually relevant to each individual user. The option to ask branching questions can also reduce the need to send out additional follow-up surveys.

What should be considered when purchasing survey software?

When purchasing survey software, there are a number of important things to consider first, and these can have a major bearing on the final purchasing decision. Decision-makers need to seek out software solutions that are right for their specific needs, and this could mean that simply exploring the best online survey tools reviews may be insufficient. Generally, the best way to approach this is to ask some key questions first, such as the following:

  • How much does survey software cost? The price of different solutions is a major factor in any purchasing decision, but careful thought is required. While it may be possible to acquire high-quality survey software free of charge, those options are likely to be more basic in terms of features. The missing features may not be significant for all users, however, so free survey software can still be viable in some cases. Going further, it is crucial to view the issue of cost in terms of the total cost of ownership. Clearly, there will be upfront costs, such as the price of acquiring the software and setting it up, but there are also likely to be some hidden costs too, such as the cost of training employees to use the software or the cost of accessing updates or professional support. These hidden costs could mean that solutions with a low initial price may actually end up being deceptively expensive in the longer term.
  • Why use online survey software? The precise reasons for investing in a dedicated survey application also need to be considered carefully so that an appropriate choice can be made. Business survey software, for instance, is an ideal solution for companies that want to carry out market research, but these solutions may not be the most suitable choice for an individual website owner wishing to gather quick reader opinions. Similarly, employee engagement survey software is useful for that specific purpose, but a more well-rounded option could be better for businesses that are likely to use surveys for more than one purpose. It is vital to be as clear as possible about the reasons for buying the software so that the best selection can be made for those particular needs.
  • What types of surveys are supported? Online survey software is ideal for the creation of electronic surveys, but these can take different forms, and the ideal design will depend on factors like the subject and target audience. Moreover, some marketing professionals may have more advanced needs. For example, the requirements of some businesses or market researchers may extend to a need for telephone survey support within software or even support for one-to-one, in-person interviews. All of this means it is essential to consider the types of surveys that are supported by the different programs on the market. From there, it becomes much easier to find the most suitable option based on the relevant features provided.
  • Who needs access to the software? Another important consideration when seeking out online survey software is the question of who is going to need access to it. This then brings about some secondary questions, which centre on issues like where those people are going to be based and how they intend to access the software. If everyone who needs access is going to be working within the same office, the software requirements are likely to be different from situations where employees need access across multiple different sites. Logically, this then extends further if remote and mobile access are desirable. Therefore, it is vital to think carefully about who will be using the software, the devices and operating systems they will be using, and the logistics of sharing that access.
  • Is open source survey software better? There are several benefits associated with open source software, including the lack of upfront costs, greater transparency, and the potential for a community to form around the software, resulting in continuous improvements and additional support. The code can also be reviewed and vetted by that community, potentially offering security benefits too. However, this needs to be weighed up against some of the possible disadvantages, such as reduced assistance with initial setup and training, and the fact that open source software tends to offer limited warranties when viewed in comparison to proprietary software.

Buyers also need to give some thought to the main trends that are relevant to online survey software too. It is worth taking the extra time to ensure the software selected has been designed with an awareness of some of the most significant trends in mind because it can help to ensure the software is useful for the foreseeable future, rather than serving only as a short-term solution. With regards to survey apps, some of the key trends to be aware of include:

  • Increased prevalence of remote work: One of the major workforce trends of recent times has been the increased prevalence of remote work and the growing demand among employees for more opportunities to work from home. This is evidenced by Gartner research, which identified the end of 2021 as the point at which more than half of the world's knowledge-intensive workers would be working remotely. With so many people likely to be working remotely in the years ahead, either on a permanent basis or as part of a hybrid work model, there are knock-on effects for software and these need to be considered prior to making an investment. For a start, employees may need access to the software across multiple devices, and these devices may be using different operating systems.
  • The rise of cloud-based software: A related trend has been the rise of cloud-based software solutions, often deployed on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis. These options are ideal for providing access to software from anywhere, using a variety of devices, and the storage of data in the cloud also offers security advantages, along with additional options for content sharing and collaboration. With that being said, cloud-based software does tend to require the payment of a subscription fee, while the complete reliance on a working internet connection can be prohibitive for some organisations. The pros and cons should, therefore, be weighed up carefully.
  • A need for mobile optimised surveys: Mobile optimisation has been a key trend across online marketing, with web content and other forms of marketing all needing to be optimised so that they can be viewed and easily digested using mobile devices. The same is true for surveys, which are increasingly being viewed by users on mobile phones, and if businesses want high levels of participation, mobile optimisation is critical. This necessitates software that is able to be used to create and manage mobile-focused questionnaires, polls, and other surveys.
  • Use of AI chatbots for survey work: Increased adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technology and the growing popularity of conversational user interfaces are two of the main trends that businesses need to be aware of. Within survey platforms, these trends can combine to provide users with access to AI chatbots. When utilised to the greatest effect, this can help to make surveys more interactive and more like a two-way conversation, rather than a more impersonal list of questions. The AI capabilities also open up the possibility of surveys that are more personalised, with questions changing in real-time, depending on the answers given.