Guide: what are survey tools and why are they important?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Surveys are an efficient way of gathering information that can help shape strategic business, sales and marketing decisions. Conducting surveys helps you to understand what a customer wants and needs, so you can improve the service you're providing. Having the best survey tools helps you to do this in an efficient, automated manner to save time and be more productive.

In this article, we explain what survey tools are, what the benefits are of using them, the kinds of data you can gather and how to choose the correct one for your needs, including a list of some of the best free survey sites.

What are survey tools?

If you're wondering 'What are survey tools?', they are software that you can use to create and send out surveys to a customer base to understand their expectations, wants and needs. Having this data is vital for helping to improve the product or service you're offering. You can instal some survey tools as a widget on a website so you can create pop-ups that ask customers various questions.

These may include a tick box or consent form that the customer accepts to grant a company access to the information the customer fills in. You can then collate the customer responses and make important business decisions based on the data they've provided.

Related: What is strategy and why is it important in business?

What are the benefits and uses of survey tools?

There are plenty of important reasons to use survey tools for your business, sales or marketing needs. Here are a few of the major benefits:

  • saves you time and money, providing a faster response time

  • helps you or your team to be more productive

  • gathers specific data about the customers, such as the market demographic, age range, or gender

  • helps you to design professional-looking surveys

  • provides direct access to your consumer to understand their needs

  • opens the lines of communication to allow direct feedback from your consumer

  • provides data that can help improve your business

  • streamlines your market research and data collection process

Related: 6 simple tips for how to work hard and stay motivated

What kind of information can you gather with survey tools?

The list of data you can gather by using online tools or surveys is endless. As you can completely personalise your survey to ask the questions that provide the information you want to know, you're able to gather extremely relevant information from your customer base. Here are some data samples you could gain:

  • Customer demographic: This helps you determine where most of your customers live.

  • Age: This helps you see the top age bracket of a typical customer. This can help you decide where to focus your marketing tactics.

  • Gender: This helps you determine who's buying your product or service. This is another data point that can help you target your marketing to males or females.

  • Feedback and opinions: You're able to give the customer the opportunity to provide valuable feedback about your product or service, such as what they like about your service and what you're doing well.

  • Complaints: You're able to give the customer the opportunity to provide honest and valuable feedback about where they feel you could improve.

  • Income: You're able to include a question on income where consumers can fill in their average monthly income per individual or household.

How do you choose the right online survey tool?

There are a plethora of options available for survey tools. Choosing the correct one is vital, as it allows you to distribute your surveys more efficiently and collect the data that's most appropriate for your specific needs. That's why it's important to find the right professional tool for what you're looking for. Consider whether you're looking for a tool that allows for open-ended questions where customers can fill in more information, or more structured multiple-choice questions.

Having structured responses with tick boxes makes for easier data processing that you can do automatically, such as with computer software, whereas free-fill responses may require a human to understand and manually process them into categories or gather insights. There are also advanced tools that use artificial intelligence (AI) to process responses that can speed up the task.

Related: 10 tips for improving customer service management

What are the best online survey tools?

There are hundreds of online survey tools, including free survey platforms, available online that offer fast and efficient ways to gather consumer data. If you're looking for advice, here are some of the best free survey tools and paid platforms to choose from:

Survey Monkey

Survey Monkey is one of the best free online survey tools available with a reported over 40 million customers registered on the platform. You can sign up for free and create a survey easily within just a few minutes, and the platform doesn't require you to have any coding skills or experience to do so. The setback is that you can't download your data or information into a CSV or Excel file without a paid plan. The more responses you're looking for and the more advanced the skill set of the tiered plan you choose, the more you pay.

AskNicely

AskNicely is a great tool that can integrate with most major customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This means that you're able to contact the customer across a variety of touchpoints, such as via email, your website, or a mobile app, and access the responses and data from a live dashboard in real-time. One of the main reasons this survey tool is so popular is because it can collect live data based on the Net Promoter Score (NPS). The downside of the tool is that AskNicely no longer includes a pricing plan on their website and instead asks that you to contact them directly for a quote.

Typeform

Typeform is a fantastic software if you're looking to create surveys that are highly engaging and interactive for the customer, but it may not be the best choice for you if you're looking for a very cheap survey. The major difference between Typeform and other web-based survey tools is its logic jumps.

These logic jumps allow you to create multiple pathways for question conversations with your consumer. You can tailor the questions depending on how they respond. For example, if the customer says yes to one question, they're then given a specific question such as question 1A, but if they answer no, they're sent a different question, such as question 1B. The tool tailors the entire set of questions for each customer response. Plans range from the Essentials package that offers basic features and then upgrade from there to the Professional package.

JotForm

JotForm is a similar online web and email survey tool to Typeform, but it's a cheaper option. Over two million customers now use the tool in 12 languages. The platform doesn't require coding experience or skills to use it, and just about anyone can create a survey and process the responses easily.

One of the best free survey software, Jotform offers their Start plan for free that enables up to 100 survey submissions or 1000 form views. If you're looking to increase your forms, submissions, or views, you can upgrade to paid plans that extend from Bronze or Silver and up to the ultimate Gold plan that allows 100,000 submissions and unlimited forms and views.

Related: 13 unusual interview questions and why interviewers ask them

Tips for using online survey tools

As a professional, there are plenty of ways to make your surveys work more efficiently for you. Here are some tips to include in your survey strategy:

Use open-ended questions

While multiple-choice questions are appropriate for many questions, such as age brackets or gender, sometimes open-ended questions may provide you with more detailed, richer responses from your consumer. This allows you to keep your survey objective rather than asking leading questions to get your consumer to respond in a certain way. Open-ended questions require you to take more time to read through them and process them, but they offer a more direct insight into the mind of your consumer.

Keep it simple

Use simple, clear language wherever possible that's easy to understand. Keep your questions direct and to the point. Keep in mind that English may not be every consumer's first language, so keeping your questions simple helps your consumer to understand exactly what you're asking without over-complicating it.

Offer more options

If you're using multiple-choice options in your survey, be sure to offer enough options in case the pre-selected answers aren't appropriate for the customer. Add an option for Prefer not to answer or Does not apply. Alternatively, include an Other option so the customer can add extra information where necessary.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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