October 09, 2007
How To

Special Report: How to Conduct Email Surveys & Polls: Buyer's Guide to Key Vendors

SUMMARY: An email survey is an effective way to find out what your customers think about you and your products or services. But to get a great ROI, the survey must be done correctly and within your budget. Need help selecting a vendor?

Here’s a guide to the top survey companies in the field, including information on pricing structures, functionalities and specialties. Each offers proprietary technology, low-cost DIY options and features for marketers with more money to invest in customer research.
Interested in surveying your customers to find out what they think about you? Several companies can help. Most of these vendors offer basic do-it-yourself tools, but costs vary the more bells and whistles you add. For cheap DIY, you can spend less than $600 a year, while mid-level service will cost up to $3,000. For high-end enterprise feedback solutions, you can spend anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000 or more.

Last week, we provided reasons that you might want to survey or poll your customers, best practices for making your survey engaging enough to get the response rate you want from your customers and tips on writing subject lines.

Now, we offer insight into where to go to have it conducted. What follows is an alpha listing of key players in the online survey-taking industry. The guide includes plenty of service and price variations. You should be able to find the vendor you need within your research and budgetary parameters:

Beeliner Surveys
Web site: http://www.beelinersurveys.com
Number of active clients: Declined to say, but they include large insurance, retail, financial and educational institutions.
Pricing details/structures: DIY Beeliner Lite starts at $28.95 a month. Beeliner Professional for enterprise customers starts at $94.95 a month and includes phone support, direct billing and dedicated support contact. Private-labeled, customized systems are available.
Features and offers: The time it takes to learn the program is approximately 10 minutes or less; does not have to go down during upgrades or maintenance; inline HTML surveys allow the participants to take surveys from within their own inbox instead of clicking on a link; can brand with your corporate colors and logo; resend to only non-responders; pre-schedule survey activities, such as sending and resending with their scheduling tool.
Creative services: Survey assembly; design and layout customization; on-call consulting services for survey design as needed.
Support services: Beeliner Lite has email support. Beeliner Professional includes both phone and email support as well as a dedicated support contact.
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed: Yes, wording can be tweaked by the survey creator. Customer support can assist with larger changes.
Survey campaign analytics: Bouncebacks are not sent to your inbox but collected into a report. Data is recorded and available instantly, including online spreadsheets and summary report with charts and graphs. Export to .CSV, Excel and PowerPoint. Data can be easily filtered, grouped and sorted. Customized reporting lets you create your own reports, while all reports can be distributed by email or shared via a link.
Additional notes: They also offer SOAP-based integration with CRMs and other applications. They have built many customized survey systems for their customers, providing them with an opportunity to have specific functionalities. Can be private-labeled for marketing companies that want to resell survey solutions to their customers.

Boomerang Online Survey Software, from Sigmer Technologies Ltd.
Web site: http://www.sigmer.com/products_services/survey_design.html
Number of active clients: Declined to share.
Pricing details/structures: Determined by number of questionnaires.
Features and offers: Questionnaire creation; real-time send-out status; immediate response capability; automatic analysis and progress of responses updated in real-time; export statistics to other programs (e.g. Microsoft Excel) for further reporting and analysis; ability to brand questionnaire by importing logos; pagination options for quick and easy design layout; report log of all questionnaires deployed; opt in/out function.
Creative services: Customized branding and design.
Support services: Survey consultancy in all areas of survey design, execution, analysis and reporting
Survey campaign analytics: Real-time reporting; time series; exportable to other programs for further analysis.
Additional notes: Clients include BT Group, Shell, Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Go Ape Forest Adventures.

CfMC webSurvent
Web site: http://www.cfmc.com/products/websurvent.php
Number of active clients: Declined to share, but clients include Customers include Maritz Marketing Research, Flake-Wilkerson, Nielsen Media Research, The Gallup Organization and Interviewing Services of America.
Pricing details/structures: The client-hosted product works on Unix servers and starts at $995 per month. They also can host your server at an additional monthly cost of $625. There are no per-complete charges, while support and updates are included. A Web bundle is available ($750 setup, $125/mo) for browser-based reporting, managing and invitation/reminder sends.
Features or offers: Specialties include pass respondent data to the survey via URLs; multi-language support; share survey code between surveys; sample management capabilities (up to 10 million records); complimentary java scripts for on-screen data checking; robust branching, rotates and skip capability; free online reporting.
Creative services: Users can customize the look and feel of the survey to brand. Surveys can include Flash, video and audio.
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed? Yes.
Survey campaign analytics: A copy of their analytical software called Mentor is included in their licenses and includes online reporting capabilities. Data may also be imported in ASCII, delimited, Triple-S (XML) and binary (multiple-punch data) formats, while exporting for use in SPSS, SAS, Triple-S and more.
Support/other services offered: Surveys can also be programmed and hosted by the CfMC Service Bureau, which manages relationships with panel providers. Their WebCATI also can be used for centralized multi-modal interviewing (phone to Web and vice-versa)

Web site: http://www.concepglobal.com
Number of active clients: 200. Clients include various top law firms, as well as BearingPoint, Cushman & Wakefield and KPMG.
Pricing details/structures: Declined to share; information available upon request.
Features or offers: The survey forms can be embedded in email or external Web sites; their detailed question paths and branching mean recipients only see and answer questions relevant to their choices; multiple-question types are available, including single or multiple select, free text, drop down, matrix and file upload; questions can be specified compulsory or not; actions can be set dependent on user response -- for example, sending of customized campaigns, addition to Address Books and sending of notification emails; form flexibility and customization allows for both simple and more-complex surveys to event registration forms.
Creative services: Forms can be set through color and font selection or via the use of predetermined themes. WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) content editors within forms allow for inclusion of graphics and other HTML formatting. Sample template designs can be selected, or customized designs can be created to reflect corporate branding.
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed? Yes.
Survey analytics: Comprehensive reporting that’s exportable to Excel; results can be filtered based on response.
Support/other services offered: Customers get supported by technologically knowledgeable account managers that are trained to be an extension of the marketing team.

Web site: http://www.confirmit.com
Number of active clients: Declined to share.
Pricing details/structures: A license starts at $12,000.
Features or offers: Two user interfaces: Confirmit Express for novice users and Confirmit Professional for experienced users. Campaigns based on demographic, attitudinal and/or behavioral data. Community portal enables customers to register, opt-in/out, respond to surveys and receive rewards/incentives. Advanced dashboard reporting and analysis features. Alert systems for flagging of dissatisfied customers. Several AJAX features to optimize survey experience (and response rates). Ability to integrate with CRM, marketing or Web site systems. 100% support for accessibility standards in United States and Europe.
Creative services: Multilingual surveys and reports. 100% customization of survey and report design/branding. If full service is required, clients can tap into network of market research agencies and marketing consultancies, all standardizing on the Confirmit platform.
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed? Yes.
Survey campaign analytics: Confirmit comes with several report automation products, including Confirmit Rapid Results for instant analysis by marketers and Confirmit Reportal for report creation and report distribution through online report portals or offline report formats (PowerPoint, Excel, Adobe PDF). Open Web based architecture allows marketers to plug into various systems, including Web site analytics.
Additional notes: Email campaign engine for distribution of survey campaign invitations. Confirmit is designed as an enterprise platform enabling companies to standardize on one system across their businesses. An organization’s various functions and departments can collaborate and do correlation analysis (e.g., employee satisfaction impact on customer experience). Confirmit can be licensed On-Demand (ASP/SaaS) or On-Premise (server installed).

Constant Contact Inc.
Web site: http://www.constantcontact.com
Number of active clients: 130,000.
Pricing details/structures: ListenUp! Online Survey begins at $15 per month for a list size up to 500. When a marketer bundles their SpeakUp! Email Marketing application (normally $15 per month as well), the email-survey combo is $22.50 per month for under 500 names. On the higher end, the same services cost $150 per month apiece for 10,000-25,000 names, while the bundle runs at $225 per month.
Features or offers: Survey creation wizard and consulting services; 40 online survey templates; reporting includes overall or individual results; segment data by question, answer and respondent; open-text responses; list management; invitation delivery management.
Creative services: They will build a survey from start to finish; identify survey goals (or what you hope to find out); select and customize an online survey template or craft a survey from scratch; build and test the survey and add the “forward to a friend” feature; decide when to make the online survey live; distribute the survey using email invitations; provide instructions on how to post the survey on a Web site.
Support services: Free live support via phone, email and online.
Survey campaign analytics: Online survey reporting with graphical displays and data that can be refreshed and updated around the clock. Users gain immediate access to overall survey results, individual survey response results and survey invitation results. They can filter survey results for deeper, in-depth analysis; create targeted email lists based on common responses; search for online survey respondent by name and view survey respondent contact details, including name and address.
Additional notes: Their SpeakUp! Email Marketing tool includes more than 200 customizable HTML email templates, an email campaign wizard, point-and-click interface, list management, delivery management, reporting free live support and image hosting.

Key Survey, part of WorldAPP
Web site: http://www.keysurvey.com
Number of active clients: 2,000-plus.
Pricing details/structures: Their premium subscription costs $1,950/year; the professional subscription is $5,950/year. Quotes for their Workgroup solution, Private Label and Enterprise solution are available upon request.
Features or offers: Professional design, customized deployment, detailed analysis, integration and security.
Creative services: Design and printing.
Support services: Market research, survey scanning, fast-track design for last-minute campaigns, data entry and training.
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed? Yes.
Survey campaign analytics: Their statistical reporting potentially includes 36 different quantities. There are also time series and significance reporting features to help you work with quantitative data.
Additional notes: Their software enables marketers to conduct multichannel and multilanguage surveys.

MarketTools Inc. & Zoomerang
Web site: http://www.zoomerang.com
Number of active clients: They have more than 1 million registered users.
Pricing details/structures: Annual subscription is $599 (except for educators and nonprofits, which pay $350). Three-month subscription is $199 (except for educators and nonprofits, who pay $99). One-month subs are $75. There’s also a limited-time free offer.
Features or offers: More than 100 survey templates; add skip (or branch) logic for expedited survey completion; collect unlimited responses; view real-time reports online or download your data to spreadsheets; access their 3 million panel respondents (additional per project pricing).
Creative services: Create surveys in 40 languages and customize their look and feel, including your corporate branding. In addition, their consulting service is designed to eliminate guesswork and ensure you get actionable results.
Support services: Clients can contact their support team via a toll-free number, as well as ping them online.
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed? Yes. They can edit the surveys live.
Survey campaign analytics: They offer the ability to view real-time results online, cross-tabulate results for key comparisons, segment results by filtering, save customized reports, and create physical reports in printer-friendly format.
Additional notes: Zoomerang offers telephone surveys with real-time results tracking.

Qualtrics & SurveyZ
Web site: http://www.qualtrics.com, http://www.surveyz.com
Number of active clients: 2,000-plus, including a bevy of Fortune 500s.
Pricing details/structures: Monthly pricing and yearly subscriptions available. Expect to pay $500 and up for their services. They also have a free offer for 100 or less responses per month in a self-service tool.
Features or offers: Their surveys can be designed for consumer customers, business clients, prospects, marketing research, human resources studies and conjoint analysis.
Creative services: They offer consulting for survey creation. The services can be accessed for everything from simple brand studies to complex pricing studies.
Support services: They offer consulting for distribution and analysis.
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed? Yes. Their system can change surveys on the fly.
Survey campaign analytics: Their system can be plugged into the marketer’s existing program. They also offer report creation and can export to Word, Powerpoint, Excel, and SPSS, while providing charts and graphs, cross-tabs and drill downs. The reports can be customized into a live dashboard.
Additional notes: For various market research projects, they offer an internal consumer panel of more than 1 million respondents. Interesting factoid: Their firm has been called by the Supreme Court as a witness and has written more than 60 books.

QuestionPro Survey Software
Web site: http://questionpro.com
Number of active clients: 4,000-plus
Pricing details/structures: For month-to-month deals, it’s $15 per for their Web Professional service and $249 per for their Corporate Suite. Yearly, it’s $149 for the Annual License, $2,499 for the Annual Corporate Suite and $8,500 for the Enterprise.
Features or offers: They offer consumer surveys, business panels, survey programming, custom templates, Web polls, translation services and product training.
Creative services: They specialize in complex survey development, customized skip logic and workflow development.
Support services: Frequency analysis; cross-tabs; banner tables; grouping and segmentation; comparison analysis; TURF analysis; conjoint analysis; GAP analysis (satisfaction vs. importance).
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed? Yes.
Survey campaign analytics: All of their systems for surveys and emails can be plugged into Google Analytics.
Additional notes: They also offer an email marketing service called ContactPro that can be used with surveys and polls. They can track open rates, view rates, clickthroughs and bounce rates. And they offer multimedia services for video- and audio-based polls.

Web site: http://www.sensorpro.net
Number of active clients: 900
Pricing details/structures: For their basic package (no long term commitment), the pricing is $495 setup per survey with $0.03 for every 100 responses. Annual subscription with unlimited surveys and response costs $2,500. To install the software on your own server, it can be purchased as a license for $7,950. In addition, there’s a discount when purchased with their email marketing solution Spinnakerpro.com. This pricing is for contracts directly with SensorPro and will vary if contracted with one of their OEM resellers.
Features or offers: Score card surveys (competitions, elearning apps); email auto-responders; question filtering; bulk add question import tool; sample fulfillment; surveys can be embedded in an email or Web site; branding service; page and question branching; hide and show; pass data from email to survey pages and back out to Web site at end; automated data exports; role-based security; responses can be sent to survey taker.
Creative services: They can manage promotions and samples used to capture subscriber demographics (one per response, limited number of samples, etc.). Also, they have the ability to embed Flash-based surveys into rich media advertising, while capturing additional email subscribers and enhanced demographic information.
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed? Yes.
Survey campaign analytics: A range of analytics online; dashboard with Flex2 charting (can download to desktop for local reporting); correlation, significance and regression tests; integration with SPSS; exports to XML, Excel and Flat file.
Support/other services offered: Integrated email marketing with Spinnakerpro.com, results available as feed for email campaigns; integrated with Salesforce.com; install on your own server or use hosted offering.
Additional notes: Customers include Northwest Airlines, Coty, 3M, HP, Tesco, Verizon and Pampers. The application is also resold by various email marketing solution providers, such as Epsilon Interactive and others.

Web site: http://www.surveygizmo.com
Number of active clients: 7,500 active clients.
Pricing details/structures: Free Plan: $0; Personal: $19 per month; Pro: $49 per month; Enterprise: $159 per month; Dedicated: To be determined, as it entails customized packages, including full service, training and add-ons.
Features or offers: Rich feature set; branding control with custom themes; survey embedding in Web sites; email auto-responders; email invitations; survey logins; data pre-population; personalization; user/role/team-based permissions; S text messaging; personalized & SEO friendly survey URLs; rich media embedding; in-survey file uploads; quota management.
Creative services: They specialize in client customizations, including new question types, reports and data manipulation. Various levels of survey creation, campaign management, branding and direct marketing design, application customizations, planning strategy, and writing and data analysis are available through an integrated partner accessible directly through SurveyGizmo.
Support/other services offered: They offer timely support to all account levels, including priority phone support for their Enterprise solution.
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed? Yes, surveys can be edited on the fly without shutting them down.
Survey campaign analytics: Real-time tracking and reporting; individual and summary reports; cross-tab reports; combined summary reports (multiple surveys); multiple graph types; customer/product satisfaction meter gauges; geo-location map dashboard; response and abandon rate over time dashboard; satisfaction meter dashboard; Excel; CSV; SPSS exports.
Additional notes: SurveyGizmo can also be used to implement quizzes, landing pages, course evaluations, support tickets, event registrations and lead-generation programs.

Web site: http://www.surveymonkey.com
Number of active clients: Declined to share.
Pricing details/structures: They offer a $19.95 monthly rate that includes 1,000 responses and involves only a month-to-month commitment. In addition, they have an annual rate of $200 with unlimited responses.
Features or offers: Printable PDF version of your surveys; available SSL encryption; multiple “collectors” per survey that can be configured and opened/closed independently; unicode text in surveys (supporting all languages, including Asian character sets); more than 40 free survey templates.
Creative services: Full-service design and question writing.
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed? Yes. While almost all changes can be made by client, they will do a manual change if necessary.
Survey campaign analytics: Includes a detailed question-by-question summary, as well as the ability to browse individual responses, create custom filters to find patterns in the data collected and share results without giving access to an account.
Other important notes/information: Customized and trackable HTML can be added to their surveys. They partner with email service provider MailChimp to enable email-delivered survey efforts.

Web site: http://www.surveywriter.com
Number of active clients: Declined to share
Pricing Details/Instructions: $1.25 per complete/minimum 200 completes per project. No charges for support or training.
Features or offers: Survey creation tool for market researchers; no scripting is necessary; quotas, skip logic and question or attribute rotation is handled through logic wizards and menu options; create formula questions using constants, random values, Boolean values, point values, single values and multivalues; build questions on-the-fly using equations and calculations; custom cross-tab reporting; email alerts for customer satisfaction studies; multilingual surveys; coding of open-ends; instant-on video display; ability to apply style sheets and custom java scripts to survey.
Creative services: They can create customized surveys in any language; conjoint, segmentation surveys and other advanced methodologies are available; ability to incorporate video and other multimedia into any study.
Support services: Phone, email, and online chat support.
Will they tweak surveys mid-campaign: Yes.
Survey campaign analytics: Presentation-ready charting; spreadsheet-style chart data selection table; instant cross-tabs by question; full-function custom cross-tabs; ability to recode responses; online data editing; open-end and text-based data reporting tools; significance testing: S-tests, T-tests and Chi-Square; selections for decimal precision and confidence levels; allow reporting on terminate questions; export to SPSS and Excel; save survey results as a DAT, CSV, or Fixed Width Ascii file.
Additional notes: Email services are also available.

The Survey System
Web site: http://www.surveysystem.com
Number of clients: 5000-plus
Pricing: $499 (basic edition), $999 (professional edition), $1,998 (enterprise edition). Mix and match supplementary modules as required.
Features and offers: Creates question files or imports questionnaires created in Word; data entry by: paper, phone, email, Internet, PDA surveys or import from other programs; records voice responses, print questionnaire forms; has powerful interview logic (shows video and still images, plays sound, etc.) has skips, piping, branching, calculations on the fly, pre-populating survey with email data & sending out to Web site at conclusion; sends emails based on answers; respondents can select key words or sections of an image by clicking on them; email invites to respondents, re-invite non-respondents, and send thank you notes to respondents; password protection available; complete CATI Module for phone surveys; offers multiple quotas, dropout analysis; produces sophisticated tables, statistics and charts on local PC or on Web; exports results to Excel, SPSS, Word, XLS, PDF.
Support services: Free evaluation edition at www.surveysystem.com/eval.htm.
Additional notes: It uses any suitable Windows ISP or can be hosted through their survey system. They offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Vizu Corp.
Web site: http://www.vizu.com
Number of active clients: In the hundreds.
Pricing details/structures: Starting at $99 for the first 100 respondents. After that, it is based on the combination of respondents and the target audience. Most of their polls cost between $99 and $299.
Features or offers: They specialize in polls with their Vizu Answers service. They offer same-day fulfillment with responses getting returned to the client within hours of creating and launching a poll.
Creative services: Research coaching and assistance, consulting on question design and editing are in their suite of services.
Will you tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed: They do not recommend this course of action for polls, but they can do it upon request.
Survey campaign analytics: Results are available real-time through a browser-based interface.
Other tools/programs: An online ad effectiveness measurement system called Ad Catalyst, a free Web poll widget and an enterprise Web polling system for online publishers called Power Polls.
Additional notes: Their Ad Catalyst program goes beyond counting clicks to measure the brand-building impact of online ads.

Vovici Corp.
Web site: http://www.vovici.com
Number of active clients: 3,500-plus.
Pricing details/structures: For their program called EFM Feedback NOW - $695 per survey campaign; for the EFM Feedback Standard - $1,795 per year (unlimited surveys and responses); for the EFM Feedback Professional - $2,495 per year (unlimited surveys/responses with campaign and respondent management); EFM Feedback Professional Developer - $5,495 per year (ultimate flexibility in systems integration).
Features or offers: Community management and building capabilities; MS Word import; built-in library (so that you can save your survey questions); ability to build surveys in multiple languages; schedule future deployments using calendar feature.
Creative services: Survey writing; benchmarking your surveys against third party respondent lists; design; research assessments; analysis and reporting.
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed? Yes.
Survey campaign analytics: Frequency analysis; correlation analysis; gap analysis; summary of means. In addition, marketers can plug their analytics program into Vovici’s survey system.
Support/other services offered: They have partnerships in place with several panel-management companies that allow marketers flexibility in terms of what they can do with the surveys.
Additional notes: EFM Feedback NOW can be a good fit for small teams with a decent budget; it includes professionally-written templates, as well as the ability to build your own questions from scratch. It also offers unlimited surveys and unlimited responses without additional charges.

Zarca Interactive Inc.
Web site: http://www.zarca.com
Number of active clients: Declined to share but said clients include The Conference Board, Nationwide, Cybertrust, University of Pennsylvania and many emarketing and nonprofit organizations.
Pricing details/structures: Annual subscriptions depend on level of usage and features used; they start at $180 per year. Select nonprofits are free.
Features or offers: Includes 10 out-of-the-box reports. Analysis involves drilldown and ad-hoc querying, pivot tables, comparison reports, longitudinal analysis and ability to select for a variety of charts and graphs. Reports allow for mathematical operations on numeric/quantitative data. In addition, they have the ability to merge answer categories and modify the survey while it is live.
Creative services: Survey writing; survey review; advice on panel selection; data analysis; data interpretation; procuring benchmarking data; report writing; executive presentations.
Will they tweak the surveys mid-campaign if needed? Yes.
Survey campaign analytics: Count and % of emails that were delivered, opened and bounced (and when possible, reason for bounce-back). System also tracks number of surveys that were completed and partially completed with date and time stamp. Through application programming interfaces (APIs), they offer integration of data into other analytical platforms.
Support services: Unlimited Web-based training is available to all clients. Support from domestically based reps is provided via phone and email.
Additional marketing tools/programs: They conduct free educational seminars across the country on best practices and trends in surveying, covering topics on where next-generation surveying is headed.

Note: If you are an online survey vendor and would like to be considered for inclusion in this listing, email the following information to Senior Reporter Chris Heine at chrish(at)marketingsherpa(dot)com

Useful links related to this article

Special Report: How to Conduct Email Surveys - Tips to Lift Response & Write Subject Lines

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