1. Technology

SurveyMonkey Review 2012

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating
7 Reader Reviews

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SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey

Screen shot by J Kyrnin courtesy SurveyMonkey

Bottom Line

If you need a way to learn more about your customers, validate ideas with potential customers, or make sure you're delivering what your existing customers want, then a survey is a great tool. I have taught you how to create web forms and surveys “from scratch” on this site, but I have to admit that I no longer do this even on my smallest sites. Tools like SurveyMonkey just make it too easy to bother.

SurveyMonkey is a great survey tool for any web designer, small business owner, or marketing profession who wants to periodically poll their customers. There are many options and levels available for you to get exactly the features you need; from small, free polls to huge, self-hosted multi-page branded surveys that you place on your own site. And lots in between.

I like SurveyMonkey a lot and use it all the time for keeping an eye on the pulse of my customers. This is a great tool and I highly recommend it.

Pros

  • Very easy to set up and use
  • Free basic version lets you create sample surveys to make sure it does what you want it to
  • The Question Bank gives you a ton of sample questions and answers to help you create a survey that doesn't have hidden problems
  • Create multiple page surveys
  • Buy respondents to get more answers to your surveys
  • You can create multiple collectors to track where people are finding your surveys
  • You can even enter data manually from other survey sources
  • Results analysis shows charts for a quick analysis as well as downloading the raw data
  • Create custom reports

Cons

  • Difficult to navigate between surveys once you've entered one
  • Your Logo isn't saved to use across multiple surveys
  • I couldn't link SurveyMonkey to more than one Facebook page
  • Some of the features like “Crosstab Responses” were difficult to understand

Description

Price: From free to $65 per month. I signed up for the “Select” plan at $17 per month, billed annually, and that is what this review is based on.

Features of the “Select” plan include:

  • Unlimited questions and responses (the Basic plan is limited to 10 questions and 100 responses per survey).
  • Survey templates
  • 15 types of questions
  • Handles all languages with Unicode support
  • Branded surveys with a logo
  • Accessible and compliant with the 508 standards
  • Customized thank you page
  • Printable PDF version of the surveys
  • Validate and require survey responses
  • Randomize and sort answer choices
  • Send surveys out by email, web, Twitter and Facebook
  • Create a custom URL for the survey
  • Get real-time results as people answer the survey
  • Download and share responses

Jennifer Kyrnin’s Review of SurveyMonkey 2012

I have been using SurveyMonkey for about three months now to survey readers and find out what they are interested in learning more about so that I can better tailor my site to their needs. I have done long surveys and short ones and I have found it very easy to use. You can participate in a survey I created—What’s Your Web Desire? to see an example of a very short (two question) survey I created on SurveyMonkey.

I Like SurveyMonkey a Lot

Before I found SurveyMonkey, if I needed a survey or poll for my website I would usually use a handmade survey and write my own CGI to handle it. This is one way to do it, but why when you can create a survey for free on SurveyMonkey and you get so many features. (Note: not all of the features I listed above are part of the free plan, check out SurveyMonkey for details).

I especially like how easy it is to write a survey. I created a survey today in about 5 minutes, and then spent 30 minutes fighting with Facebook to get it published (not the fault of SurveyMonkey whatsoever). If I had simply used the built-in link I'd have even had it published within that 5 minute window. In the first survey I created I wrote it in 10 minutes and had an answer within 20. I've never been that fast when I built my own.

I upgraded to the “Select” plan because I was concerned I would get more than 100 responses (and I did) to my surveys. I like this plan level because there is an annual and a monthly plan. Meaning if I only needed surveys for a month or two, I could have bought the month-to-month plan and simply cancelled when I was done. I ended up buying the annual plan because it was cheaper for long-term use. The Gold and higher level plans don't appear to have a month-to-month option.

One of the reasons I think SurveyMonkey is easy to use is because they make it so easy to create good surveys. For example, the survey I created for this review—Websites—uses questions that were completely taken from the Question Bank. I just changed the wording to reflect websites rather than movies or television. There are also a lot of pre-built templates you can use, with color options and font styles and so on. I based the Websites style on the “Panda” theme.

As you can see, I also uploaded my own logo for the Websites survey. It has my photo on it, and information about this website, but the logo can be anything that can fit in an image. The image just needs to be 50KB or smaller.

One interesting feature that I haven't tried yet is the availability of paying for an audience. If you are trying to do market research or find out whether an idea you have is viable, this can be very useful. They offer to get you a certain number of respondents within a short period of time. You can define specifics about the audience you want to survey like age, gender, education, lifestyle, employment, and even aspects of media and technology like what kind of phone they use. If you don't think you'll be able to collect enough responses to give you a good answer, this could be a great alternative.

But There Are Some Difficulties

Most of my problems surround having multiple surveys. I often find myself wanting to switch between the surveys I've created, and this seems more cumbersome than I'd like it too. For example, I might want to look at the survey results from one survey so that I can write a new question to tease out more information. But once you're inside one survey, you have to back completely out of one survey to get into another. I wish that my surveys were in some drop-down or other area so that I could switch between them more quickly.

Another frustration I have is with the logos. I want to use the same logo for all of my surveys, but it appears that I have to upload it for every survey I create. This seems like a waste of space if nothing else. I'm hoping that I just didn't figure out how to do that—but if it is possible I haven't been able to figure out how in the time I've been using SurveyMonkey.

If you're not already familiar with how to create and analyze surveys you may find some of the terms that SurveyMonkey uses confusing. They do have a good help section, but I wanted to know what CrossTab Responses were just by looking at the name. :-)

I purchased a 1-year subscription to SurveyMonkey for the purpose of this review. I received no assistance or encouragement from the company to do so.

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