Survey: Definition

A survey is a research method used for collecting data from a predefined set of respondents to gain insights on various areas of interest. Surveys are created with various objectives and can be conducted through a number of ways. 


Typically surveys are a set of questions on a specific subject, domain, and industry and include different types of questions. In earlier days, surveys were conducted using pen and paper, but now most individuals and businesses use free online survey creator tools. 

Example: If a smartphone maker company wants to launch a new model of a mobile phone, they will launch an online survey to understand what features were liked by the consumers in the existing handset, what they did not like and the ones they wish to have in their phone. This will ensure a bigger success in their marketing campaign and higher sales.

Surveys: Types and Methodologies

Survey researchers use various methods to collect survey data. People can be contacted and surveyed using different modes: by interviewing in-person or on call, via the internet or by paper questionnaires which can be delivered in person or in the mail. 

Survey response rate depends on various factors like the mode of the interview, availability of respondent, style and tone of the questionnaire, look and feel of the survey, how people are contacted, demographics and survey topic. It also depends on the presence of an interviewer, survey length, rewards and whether the information is communicated orally or visually.

In-person surveys

In-person surveys are conducted face-to-face. The survey design is well-planned and there is less scope to digress from the pre-defined flow. Generally, it takes longer to analyze responses for such surveys, though the response rate is good as they trust the identity of the interviewer.

Telephone surveys

Traditionally telephone surveys have been conducted by landline telephone, nowadays people are contacted on cellphones. Connecting with people over the phone is cheaper than in-person interviews and takes lesser time and manpower. However, such surveys also have less response rate as people don’t trust interviewer on call and hence give out less information. Also, respondents have to complete the survey at one go and can not answer questions later as per their convenience.

Paper surveys

This is the least used survey method these days as most businesses have gone digital and online. In paper surveys, respondents are asked to answer the questions on paper and submit them by mail or in-person. It becomes very tedious and difficult to analyze the results and generate reports based on the responses gathered manually.

Online surveys

Surveys that are conducted on the internet are known as online surveys. They can be taken through desktops, laptops or mobile devices. The only requirement is to have a stable internet connection. Online surveys are considered to be a very convenient option for the respondents as they can fill the survey questionnaire based on their availability of time. They are also time-efficient and cost-effective as far lesser resources are used as compared to other traditional methods of running a survey. Online surveys can also be made available to people on social media platforms and thus widens the reach and penetration of the survey. Online surveys allow researchers to use multimedia elements, such as having respondents view videos or listen to audio clips, which are not available to other survey modes.

Panel surveys

A survey panel is a set of respondents who have agreed to take part in multiple surveys over time. Panels have several advantages over alternative methods of collecting survey data. Perhaps the most familiar use of panels is to track the change in attitudes or behaviors of the same individuals over time. 

Advantages of creating a survey

Surveys can let you understand the pain points of your respondents and help you stay relevant in today’s competitive market.  They help you serve them with better products and services at the right time. Through surveys, you can get a sneak peek into someone’s brain and learn what they want.

The primary intention behind survey creation is to better understand the psychology of your target audience and gather data which otherwise they may not express explicitly. A survey is a great way to gain insights into what your audience thinks, feels, and most importantly—what it wants. 

  1. Measure client satisfaction

Amongst the hustle and bustle of day-to-day business operations, if there’s a key to provide better services to your client, it’s gathering feedback and listening to them. In today’s competitive times, you cannot afford to ignore what customers have to say. It ensures your business meets market demands and increases customer satisfaction.

  1. Market research

Market research is the process of deriving data by an organization from the market it operates in or wants to operate in, to help determine market segmentation, market penetration, market opportunity, and existing market metrics. 

  •  Internal market research

With surveys, you can also better connect with your employees and respond to their feedback, thereby improving the overall employee satisfaction. Learn what are the challenges faced by them, what do they expect from and what excites them to perform them. Engaging with employees is one of the most effective ways to improve their productivity.

  •  External market research

Running a survey will help you identify the needs of your future customers and the latest trends in the market. Based on the results, you can decide which features should be included in your upcoming product. You will also be able to better judge if there are any missing links in the current market or if there is any sector yet unexplored. It will help you to gauge if your product or service will be successful or not.

Characteristics of a good online survey creator tool

With myriad options available in the market, below are some of the characteristics that a good survey creator tool must have.


  • Robust 

Many times businesses run a time-bound survey, which means the survey link would be active only during fixed hours. This implies many respondents might log in simultaneously to answer the questions. So the survey creator software shouldn’t break under heavy load and must cater to all the visitors. Generally, cloud-based tools work well because of their inherent design and scale as per the demand.

  • Uniform experience

No matter the device, platform or demand hours, the online survey tool must deliver a similar smooth experience.

  • Easy-to-use UI

The user interface must be intuitive and allow a developer to see what the end result will look like while the interface or document is being created. 

  • Reusability 

The online survey software must allow you to reuse questions or surveys so that you can save on time and effort. Some of the ways through which this can be achieved are question library, ready-made templates, compounded logic, etc

  • Shareable surveys

Depending on whether you work independently or in a team, you might need to share survey results and reports with other team members. See if you can share the survey results from the tool itself.

  • Secure 

A good survey creator tool respects the privacy of user data and makes sure it complies with industry and region laws such as Privacy Field Framework, HIPAA, GDPR, FWA, etc

  • Integration with other apps

Integration with other tools allows you to extend the functionality and use your survey data in multiple ways.  This can help you to make better decisions and fine-tune your business strategy based on the responses collected.

  • Reporting 

Most survey creator tools generate 5-10 reports and let users apply filters. The catch here is to see if those reports make sense to you. Also, reports must get exported into frequently used formats.

  • Data analytics

A survey can have open-ended questions in which respondents enter text. While it is easy to analyze scoring questions, text-based answers need special algorithms to understand the sentiment and frequency of specific words.

  • Support 

Any good survey creation software provider will make sure their customers are happy with their products. See if you are able to get the required help in terms of online documentation and support over chat and email. 

Necessary features of an online survey creator tool

When it comes to online survey creator tools, you can choose between the free or paid ones. All free versions offer basic survey creation features. Such free survey builder software is appropriate for some light audience research. However, in order to pursue market research and satisfaction surveys seriously, one must go for paid versions.

  • Survey logic

The use of logic in the survey prevents respondents from being exposed to questions that they cannot answer. Based on the answer to the current question, the respondent is presented with the next question. If you want to reuse a few questions or say, apply quotas on responses, you must go for a licensed version.

  • Custom logo

Paid versions let you get rid of the tool’s logo and instead add your own. This helps you to give a professional look and feel to the survey.

  • Advanced question types

Most free survey creators offer plenty of question options, like multiple choice radio buttons, drop downs, rating scales, etc. Paid versions offer even more options like graphical rating, QR code, grids, advanced matrix, star rankings, budget scale, stopwatch, file upload, etc.

  • Save and continue option

Paid versions allow respondents to save the survey midway and continue from where they left at a later time.

  • Custom variable mapping

You can assign display names to custom variables and see in email invitations while creating surveys, questionnaires, and viewing responses & reports.

  • Single sign-on (SSO)

SSO allows you to authenticate your survey against a third-party system. You can verify whether respondents have a legitimate user ID at your web application and authenticate them to access the survey.

  • Automated Reminders

If you want your respondents to fill the survey later, you can schedule reminders to be automatically sent on a set date. 

  • Multilingual surveys

For businesses having diverse customer base spread across different geographic locations, a multilingual survey is a must. With the paid version, you can get support for all languages including left-to-right languages. You can also upload translation files or ask for staff support.

  • Forward to Friend

The recursive invitation process allows end-users to invite other users to take the surveys. This enables the viral marketing of surveys and in turn, results in a higher response rate.


  • Real-time reports



You can view individual responses as well as aggregated reports. All answers are in graphical as well as quantitative format. Additionally, you can add filter criteria and view the results by date, device, completeness and much more.



  • Spotlight Report


The Spotlight Report allows your respondents to visually see how their responses compared to the overall survey responses immediately.



  • Word Cloud


Word cloud, also known as a tag cloud, is a visual representation of text data. This format is useful for quickly perceiving the most prominent terms and for locating a term to determine its relative prominence.



  • Export your results



Most tools allow exporting collected results to Excel or CSV. This data can also be imported into SPSS. You can save diagrams as images and paste them into Word, PowerPoint, etc. or save your complete report as a PDF document.



  • Review / Print responses


The Review/Print option allows respondents to review/print their survey responses after taking the survey.



  • Offline mobile app



Users must be able to collect and store offline survey data. With offline apps, you can conduct surveys anywhere, even in the field! Records will be saved on a device and synced with the database when the internet connection is back. You can track location via the state, zip code or GPS even without the internet. This significantly boosts the ability to access the survey apart from the same hosted on the website, QR codes or through a link in an email.

How to create a good online survey

There are many free online survey tools that let you access basic survey functionalities for free. Few survey creator tools provide free lifetime access whereas others offer a trial version. A trial version is free for a limited period of time post which you have to buy a paid version. A typical trial version lasts 30 days. During this period you can try all premium features, whereas in case of free version you get limited features free for unlimited time.

The 3 basic steps to create a good survey using an online survey builder tool are

  1. Design a survey
  2. Distribute a survey
  3. Analyze survey responses

How to design a good survey using an online survey creator tool 

You can design your own survey questionnaire using various question types provided by the survey software or use free ready-made templates that suit your business requirements. In either case, you will be able to customize its workflow.

Create your own survey design

Design and frame survey with different types of questions such that it extracts the right answers from the audience – answers that offer meaningful insights into ways you can improve your services. Powerful question types such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) will help you identify promoters and detractors, define faults, blind spots, improvement areas or concerns and, in turn, achieve long-term improvement and growth.

Use ready-made templates

If you want to save time on thinking over and creating questions, you can use one of the 300+ free survey templates and customize the logic as per your requirements. These templates have been prepared by professional experts having experience in industry-specific surveys.

Customize survey theme 

Whether you design the survey on your own or use a template, customize its theme to give a more professional image. The survey that you send out to your employees or customers, be they existing or potential, must resonate with your brand voice. 

Example: You can bring your brand and culture to life by customizing the fonts, logo, text color, background, layout, images, final redirect page and even the URL of your surveys. You can also personalize your survey by creating Thank You pages with a clear call to action.

How to distribute a survey using an online survey creator tool

Once you are ready with the survey questions, it’s time to let it open for the people to respond. Send your survey by email or SMS invitation, embed it on any page of your website or share it on social media. 

The selection of the distribution medium depends on the type of survey and the target audience. Being able to reach your audience at the time and place they are most likely to respond helps you achieve increased response rates and improved customer engagement

Example: If you’re a retail e-commerce company and want to understand what people think about the latest fashion trend, you can run a survey on social media sites. But if you are an investment banking company who wants to know if your customers are satisfied with the quality of customer support, you should run a survey through email or call.

How to analyze survey  responses using an online survey creator tool

Real-time reports give you a quick view of the percentages each answer option received and basic graphs, their mean values, and how many respondents have completed or not completed the survey. Filter the results by a wide selection of segments and export reports on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to send to email addresses of your choice. Measure the results of different datasets and understand the relative performance of various combinations of product features. 


Example: Some of the reports that you can help you see various dimensions of data are