As a managing director of a market research company, I’m naturally very interested in survey software and selecting the best for my clients and the business. I’ve been using SurveyGizmo for four years and I’m very happy with the system.
This is my user review as at August 2014:
- Cloud based. Some of my clients are still using desktop installations of Snap Survey Software which means they have to export data for me to analyse on a regular basis – it doesn’t take a huge amount of time but does add an unnecessary step. I love the fact that SurveyGizmo is accessed via a web browser, it means I can check survey responses on a regular basis from my mobile, as well as allowing me to add new users who can access reporting or data as they need to.
- Good value. SurveyGizmo have recently revised their pricing and now have an entry level membership at $15 per month. I tend to use the Professional Account at $75 a month as it provides a very comprehensive product including full survey branding which is very important for some of my clients. Many of my clients are registered UK charities and SurveyGizmo offers 25% off any annual plan to non-profits which makes it very good value for them. On a non-charity account, it’s possible to downgrade your account, so you can opt for the higher level of accounts for particular projects, then downgrade for some of the year which allows you to save on the annual budget.
- Easy to Use. Many of my clients prefer to have their own SurveyGizmo accounts to maintain control of the data and create their own in-house surveys from time to time. SurveyGizmo is ideal as it’s complex enough for my needs and yet easy to use for clients who may be new to survey software or have used SurveyMonkey in the past. Building a survey is simple and logical and the routing options are very intuitive – I’ve recently used SurveyMonkey for a client project (as this was their preferred software) and I find SurveyMonkey logic in comparison much more tricky.
- Range of Question Types. SurveyGizmo offers a much richer range of question types than SurveyMonkey. Of course, it has all the usual question types like open questions (which they call ‘Textbox or Essay answers), radio buttons, checkboxes, dropdown menu’s, ratings etc. But it also has more complex question types – one I use frequently is the Continuous Sum – for example, we ask respondents visiting a venue what they have spent on Travel, Food & Drink and Retail during their visit and use a continuous sum question which shows them each as a currency and adds up the total spend. There are also lots of options for ranking or rating questions like grids, drag & drop, image choice, star rating etc. If you’re even more advanced, the Pro product allows you to do Max Differential and Conjoint analysis (currently in beta testing).
- Routing and Piping. Even the simplest survey will benefit from routing – i.e. asking a different set of questions to a particular respondent group. For example, people who have bought a product before will be asked a deeper set of questions for those who haven’t. SurveyGizmo routing/skipping was always fairly easy to use but it has got more and more intuitive in the last few years. If you’re fairly new to surveys, you might not have considered ‘piping’ before but the ability to use this functionality is invaluable – for example, we might ask respondents if they visited the restaurant, shop or exhibition during their visit. For those people that have we may want to rate their experience at each – this is where piping comes in – it allows you to ‘pipe’ answers that were (or were not) ticked at a previous question, I use this functionality all the time. Using routing and piping on surveys will streamline the survey for the respondent, reducing the completion time and increasing response rates.
- Style and Branding. Being able to add the client logo and tailor the look and feel of the survey to client branding makes it much more professional for respondents – and I believe it has an impact on response rates.
- Test Data. SurveyGizmo allows you to generate test responses to your survey so you can test the reporting. Historically this test data didn’t always seem to follow the survey logic which was a source of frustration, but recent testing seems to indicate the test data is following routing and piping – it’s not a replacement for thorough survey testing but a very useful tool. It allows you to pick up on basic things like improving the quality of data – your test data report will immediately show you if your spend question allows you to put in unrealistic values (e.g. £1m being spent on drinks in one evening is unlikely to be correct!) and then you can revise the questionnaire settings to control these.
- Bulk Editing. In a typical survey I want all the questions to be Required (with a Prefer not to Say option for sensitive ones, and a ‘Don’t Know’ for trickier questions), except for open ended questions where forcing answer reduces rather than enhances the quality of response. The bulk edit tool allows me to create the survey in full, then ‘Require All’, and individually edit the questions that I remove the requirement from such as spend, or open ended likes and dislikes.
- Printable Survey with Logic and Piping. This is a fairly new addition to the system and one I love – you can export your survey to a pdf and print it with the Logic/Routing and Piping options displaying, this is very handy as a last check before despatching your survey and also useful for your client to circulate for sign off.
- Test Stats. SurveyGizmo has a lovely tool of estimating survey length, fatigue and accessibility:
- Link Creation. It’s possible to create new survey links for each send out of your survey – that way you keep all the data in one project but can track differences (e.g. Jan vs. Feb vs. March). One of the most common mistakes made by time poor in-house researchers is that they copy a survey each time they want to use it – then at the end of a season, they need to use Excel or a calculator to work out total scores. By using Links, you can keep everything in one survey and filter reporting according to your needs.
- Edit Responses. SurveyGizmo allows you to edit responses – this is particularly important for business to business research where you might ask the client to fill in a survey but also have follow up telephone calls and desk research to fill in missing answers.
- Coding open ended questions. It is possible to code open ended questions within SurveyGizmo so that you can create categories and assign them to open responses and then cross-tab the results – this can be very useful for clients wishing to show the importance of a particular product attribute.
- Reporting. SurveyGizmo reporting is very good – and much more advanced than SurveyMonkey. The Summary Report is automatically generated and allows you to get a very quick overview of your survey results. For tracking projects, you can also schedule these reports to be emailed to you automatically.
- SPSS Export. An SPSS export is very simply an export of the survey data – with the handy addition that it contains both the question and answer codes and the meaning of those codes (e.g. Q1 and ‘Have you ever….’ are both within the file under different views). Even if you’re not familiar with SPSS or SPSS files, if you might do any analysis outside your survey system, or subcontract the reporting to a researcher it’s important to choose a system which can produce a good quality export. The reporting I do tends to be more advanced than online software tools, so I really appreciate the SPSS Export function in SurveyGizmo – it provides a very easy to use SPSS file that is efficiently generated. I work with SPSS files from a variety of other systems including Snap and SurveyMonkey and the SurveyGizmo SPSS Export is always easier to work with. The SPSS export allows me to create an input file for MarketSight which I use to create full cross tabulations, join waves of data together, and export my work to PowerPoint presentations. When I’ve tried to use the SPSS export function from SurveyMonkey in the past it often creates unnecessarily large files and occasionally these files appear corrupted or difficult to work with.
- CSV/Excel Export. Most survey software offers this option, but the SurveyGizmo file is particularly easy to use and I use this option regularly for open ended question analysis – for example, copying and pasting answers into Wordle to create word clouds.
Here are a few areas I think SurveyGizmo could improve on:
- Show all pages. When you are building and editing your survey, the software defaults to only showing you the first 10 pages of the survey – I find this a little frustrating when I want to get a sense of the whole thing
- Test data. Historically the Test data didn’t follow the questionnaire logic/routing – although now it seems to in most instances, I would love this to be completely in line with routing and reassure you of that fact. One of the most valuable aspects of test data is being able to thoroughly check routing.
- Coding Open Responses. I would love to be able to provide a specific ‘coding access’ link to my admin assistants for them to code a single open ended question without having access to the rest of the system, or the questionnaire for that matter. I don’t think this is possible currently but it would be a great addition. It would mean I can delegate the coding of certain questions to individuals – or to a coding company, and retain all the responses within SurveyGizmo
- Cross Tab Reports are quite limited and slow to run. My idea for cross tab reports in market research comes from a fairly traditional training in the market research industry more than fifteen years ago – I like the option of a full ‘Demographic’ cross tab with significance testing so you can scan for interesting patterns. Although SurveyGizmo has cross-tab functionality the formatting is a little clunky and they don’t offer significance testing as standard. The other important restriction of cross-tabbing is that you can’t cross-tab by survey link – if you are using your survey link for a different event or a monthly survey, you’ll naturally want to cross-tab by the survey links so this omission is frustrating. The way around it is to filter the report using the link (see the Filter Tab and Campaign) – or to export to SPSS or Excel and conduct analysis outside the system.
- Downtime. There was one instance of the system going down in March 2014 due to a Denial of Service attack. The company reacted very quickly and honestly and immediately set about resolving the issue but it did make me slightly wary of the fact that you are in a suppliers hands when your survey goes out, you just have to hope the link always stays Live. There has been continuous service since then – and before it, but for a few weeks it did make me worry about sending out surveys via the system.
SurveyGizmo is a highly sophisticated cloud-based survey system which is excellent value for money and easy to use. If you can afford to choose this system over SurveyMonkey I would suggest the switch. If you are using more expensive systems, it is well worth evaluating whether SurveyGizmo can meet your needs.