Welcome to aea365! Please take a moment to review our new community guidelines. Learn More.

Susan Kistler on Lessons Learned Using Online Survey Software

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 aea365@eval.org. The above comments reflect my own opinion and not necessarily that of the American Evaluation Association.

7 thoughts on “Susan Kistler on Lessons Learned Using Online Survey Software”

    1. Patricia Adams

      I totally agree with you, Sam. I have used SoGoSurvey in the past and their Free Student License program proved very helpful for my research project.

  1. Pingback: MSI Fellowship Week: Denise Gaither-Hardy on Experiencing a Year as a Minority Serving Institution Initiative (MSI) Fellow · AEA365

  2. Thank you for this information – very helpful. I’ll keep an eye on the Survey Monkey website for updates. I too have experienced survey implementation restrictions here in Canada because of USA data storage.

  3. Nice site Susan.

    I just thought that I would clarify how Opt-outs work in SurveyMonkey.com. We actually allow receipts to choose whether they want to optout of SurveyMonkey surveys globally or just from the person that sent them the survey invitation message.

    There are two ways in which respondents can remove themselves from receiving Email Invitations.

    1. The [Remove Link] in the originating message.

    * If a respondent clicks the opt out link in the body of the originating message (i.e. the Email Invitation message), this link is uniquely associated with their email address and that collector. When the recipient receives the follow-up confirmation email, s/he can choose to opt out globally or just from the one account that sent the message.

    2. The Opt Out/In link on our homepage.

    * If the recipient visits the opt out link on our homepage, then this link is not uniquely tied to a collector. This option also sends the recipient a confirmation email that contains a link to the opt-in or opt-out form. This provides only a global opt out option.

    Also, in response to Beth’s post above, we are in the final steps of providing alternative locations for data storage outside of the United States; stay tuned for updates regarding this as we will post this on our website in the Help Center.

  4. I’ve been looking at online survey software lately so this blog posting caught my eye! Up here in Canada, there is much discussion about where the server that contains your data sits – e.g., Survey Monkey’s servers sit in the US and so are subject to the USA PATRIOT Act. If there are any Canadians reading this who would like to use survey companies with servers in Canada, I’ve been able to find two:

    -FLuid Surveys – http://fluidsurveys.com/
    -Jitsu Lab – https://www.jitsulab.com/

    I’m currently trying out the free trials/versions of these to figure out which I like better. Note: I have no affiliation with either of these companies – just wanted to share them with AEA blog readers in case anyone else was searching for something like this!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.