My name is Susan Kistler and I am AEA’s Executive Director. I contribute each Saturday’s post to the aea365 blog. This week, Lois Ritter and Tessa Robinette gave a great (free!) webinar for AEA comparing Surveymonkey and Zoomerang, helping to compare and contrast the two for potential new users. Building on their presentation, and from my own experiences having worked with both of these programs as well as two others over the past two years, I wanted to share this week a tip and lesson learned in using online survey software.
Hot Tip: Take Advantage of the Free Trial – The majority of survey platforms offer a free trial, usually allowing for only a few questions and respondents. Create and try out a sample survey from beginning to end, including sending invitations, collecting data, and completing the analysis, usually by exporting the data into other software for further analysis. Walk through the entire process with data parallel to that which you anticipate for your actual survey.
Lessons learned – Permissions: Does your survey platform help you to comply with IRB expectations? With the CAN-SPAM act? While using the built-in invitation functions of many online survey platforms can help you with sending, tracking, and compliance, it can also distort your sample and limit your access to potentially viable respondents because opt-out treatment varies from platform to platform. Using the two platforms discussed in this week’s webinar as examples, when survey recipients opt-out of a SurveyMonkey survey invitation, by clicking the opt-out button on the bottom, they are directed to this address http://www.surveymonkey.com/optout.aspx and they opt-out of ALL surveys from SurveyMonkey, not just a particular survey or those from a particular sender. Alternatively, when users opt out of a survey from Zoomerang, the default is that they opt out of surveys only from that particular sender (see http://zoomerang.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/308). Notably though, it is much easier to opt back in to SurveyMonkey than Zoomerang. Lesson learned? Research how your platform treats opt-outs and determine how this is likely to impact your respondent pool.
Hot Tip: If you are an AEA member, review the Ritter and Robinette Webinar Recording in the AEA webinars archive at http://ow.ly/1XqAh to gain a better understanding of other considerations when choosing a survey platform.
This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. The above comments reflect my own opinion and not necessarily that of the American Evaluation Association.