We love quantitative data, but quantitative data can only take you so far. Google Analytics can’t tell you what the user’s primary goal is for visiting the web site. Site Catalyst can’t tell you what percentage of visitors can complete their tasks. Quantcast can’t tell you why users cannot complete those tasks.

The best, and the most actionable, observations are at the intersection of quantitative and qualitative data.

So you should definitely be using surveys unless you’re just starting out and getting your pages indexed.

But with all the survey tools out there, it might be tough to choose a survey provider. There isn’t a clear frontrunner unlike in the clickstream space, where Google Analytics dominates in terms of usage. Our hope is that this post helps you select a vendor, so you can get started asking your visitors smart questions.

What are the most popular survey tools?

You don’t want to implement a tool that will go away at some point in the near future, so going with one of the more widely used ones is probably one of the easier decisions you’ll have to make. So what are the more used tools out there?

This question can be answered two ways – which tools the largest organizations use, and which tools everyone uses. Let’s look at both, using data from BuiltWith:

As you can see, the tools vary quite a bit. The ones used by the larger sites tend to be different from the most commonly used survey tools by everyone. Let’s drill down a little:

ForeSee and OpinionLab are the most popular choices by the larger sites, but they are not as widely used by everyone. QualarooiPerceptions, and Qualtrics Site Intercept make the top 5 for both lists. Survey Monkey, for all its popularity when you need other types of surveys, does not make the top 5 for either list.

Just how much do these things cost, exactly?

The price ranges for the tools vary quite a bit.

Even visibility into pricing varies quite a bit – some of these tools, like ForeSee, OpinionLab, iPerceptions, and Qualtrics Site Intercept do not make pricing available without a direct request for quote. Those tend to be on the more expensive side.

Of the ones who do disclose their price range, Feedbackify starts out at the cheap end at $19 per month, and Kampyle’s high-end offering can be had for $833 per month. You should be able to get a moderately full-featured tool for about $200 per month.

Here are the price points of the tools, arranged from most used by the market to least used:

(Gold, Silver, and Bronze are not always the terms they call the packages, as sometimes they are small, medium, and enterprise, but those are close enough)

If you have zero budget to work with, Google Consumer Surveys starts at free, as does the limited set of iPerceptions questions, 4Q.

Why does price vary so much?

With some of these tools, what you’re paying for isn’t just the survey. With iPerceptions and ForeSee, for instance, you’re paying for their ability to benchmark industries. With iPerceptions, they have a custom figure, the iPerceptions Satisfaction Index. With ForeSee, they tap the American Consumer Satisfaction Index.

Unless you’re willing to pay a lot more for benchmarking data, you would be better served by going with other tools on the list.

If you’re just starting out, don’t go with the full-featured versions of those two tools.

What survey types should I go with?

There are two viable ways to serve web surveys:

  1. Page Element: Allow the user to interact with an element on the page
  2. Conditional Site Popup: Serve a popup when certain conditions are met, which takes the user to a survey

There are also specialty surveys that do not aim to gather site satisfaction, and we’ll also take a look at those.

Page Element

Some surveys, like Kampyle, are placed on the page itself. When using surveys that are page elements, you have to make sure to ask questions that are about that page, or the specific section that the page is under.

You need this type of survey if you’re trying to improve a specific section or a specific interaction type, but it’s not going to help you diagnose your entire site.

Feedbackify also works like this, and both ForeSee and OpinionLab have counterpart offerings in this space, although those two also serve surveys in other ways, to cover the entire site.

There’s some value that you can unlock here, but for the most part, you’ll want surveys that cover the experience for the entire site.

Conditional Site Popup

Once you meet a certain set of criteria, like opening a predetermined number of pages, you can trigger conditional site popup surveys. There’s a range of tools in this space, from Google Consumer Surveys that ask you then and there to answer the survey, and Qualtrics Site Intercept, iPerceptions, and OpinionLab that wait a bit.

The Whirlpool survey above is powered by Qualtrics Site Intercept. The tool is generally intelligent enough to follow a set of conditions so the user will not get annoyed – it won’t ask you to complete the survey when you’ve just visited the first page, and you haven’t spent much time with the site yet.

If you accept the invitation, a popup will launch, but it will wait until you exit the site before loading the complete survey. From there, you’ll be taken to questions like this one:

This is more in line with what you need to know than the page element feedback. In general, whether you’re using iPerceptions, ForeSee, OpinionLab, Qualaroo, or Qualtrics, you should be able to get out of the user’s way first, and ask questions towards the end.

Special Case – Exit Hail Mary

It’s worth noting that some conditions allowed for by tools like Qualaroo and Web Engage have on exit surveys not necessarily about the entire site experience, but specifically about the exit, as kind of a hail mary to try and get a user back into engaging with you before leaving:

While this type of strategy may work for some sites, it’s not a great way to discover the flaws of the entire site, and we’ll leave it out of this general guide.

Special Case – On Page Feedback for the Entire Site

Usabilla is kind of a hybrid – you can get feedback for the entire site, but it’s served on page.

This has some basic uses, but you’ll probably want to go with conditional surveys, control the questions, and target them to the entire site. Asking the user to self-select is a bit of a high bar, and you’ll only get active feedback from outliers who are more likely to fiddle with site controls.

Does it matter when I serve the survey?

If your tool allows for it, serve your survey it on exit, so you don’t bother your user while he or she is navigating the site.

Boom, we’re done here.

So which tool do I need?

This isn’t one of those posts that end with “it’s up to you and what you need.” We’ll actually name names here, and talk about the conditions in which those are the tools you should explore.

After all, the goal is to get more people started on surveys, then asking the right questions.

1. Zero-Cost Tools: If you have no budget for surveys, but still want qualitative data, go with Google Consumer Surveys or 4Q.

a. Google Consumer Surveys: get started here
b. 4Q by iPerceptions: get started here

2. Low-Cost Page Feedback: If you have a specific problematic area within your site, there’s not a ton of traffic to get statistical significance for the entire site yet, go with Feedbackify. If you have a little more wiggle room in your budget, try the demos for the low-end offerings of Kampyle or Usabilla, and see which you like better.

a. Feedbackify: get started here
b. Usabilla: get started here
c. Kampyle: get started here

3. Reliable On Site Surveys: If you have moderate traffic, you can go a long way to getting statistical significance with tools like QualarooQualtrics, and OpinionLabDon’t pick up any of the tools without trying them – get the demo, first.

a. Qualaroo: get started here
b. Qualtrics Site Intercept: get started here
c. OpinionLab: get started here

4. Reliable On Site Surveys with Benchmarking: If you’re willing to pay a premium to get benchmarking done, test out iPerceptions and ForeSee, and ask them to differentiate their respective packages. Again, don’t just get started with the tool, have both companies compete for the contract.

a. ForeSee: get started here
b. iPerceptions: get started here