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Summary:

As web workers, we sometimes live in an information vacuum, not knowing our target markets well enough to design the products we want to sell to them. That’s when asking questions becomes important, and when you want to ask a lot of people for feedback, the […]

Zoomerang logoAs web workers, we sometimes live in an information vacuum, not knowing our target markets well enough to design the products we want to sell to them. That’s when asking questions becomes important, and when you want to ask a lot of people for feedback, the survey is your essential tool. Once the domain of direct mail, surveys made the leap online in the dot-com era and are now firmly entrenched there.

There are a lot of online survey management tools out there, including SurveyMonkey, InstantSurvey, Vovici. I recently took a look at another contender in this crowded market, Zoomerang, and I’m impressed by what I see. If you have serious research needs (beyond just banging together some questions whose answers may or may not end up meaning anything) and the budget for their Pro service ($599 annually, with discounts for education and non-profit users), their range of services can likely help you out.

Zoomerang does have a free online survey tool that is comparable to that provided by many others in the market: it has over a hundred pre-built survey templates available, or you can develop your own survey from various question types. When the survey is ready, you email your participant list, wait for the results to come in, and analyze them using Zoomerang’s online tools. The whole process is pretty slick and easy to use, but that alone doesn’t make them stand out from the herd.

At the Pro level, you can use your own branding and graphics on surveys, so that they’re less obviously from Zoomerang. You also get to download results to Excel, as well as more advanced online analytical tools, and access to a larger knowledge base of support articles (though there is a good amount of support available for the free user as well).

But the real distinguishing factors come when you add in Zoomerang’s other services. One problem all too many online surveys run into is a lack of any sort of statistical validity because they don’t ask a large enough, or representative enough, population of respondents. For a price (the typical project runs a bit over a thousand dollars) you can take advantage of ZoomPanel, a list of two and a half million consumers who are profiled on 500 attributes. If you’ve got a new product that you think is of interest to housewives, ZoomPanel can help you find them – and if it’s of interest to neurologists, ZoomPanel can help you find them, too. This sort of targeted market research is next to impossible for small companies to pull off on their own, but it can save you from wasting a ton of money on ideas that won’t fly.

Zoomerang can also help out with pre-survey research, through their Zoomerang Online Focus service. At about two-thirds the cost of an in-person focus group, they’ll pull together a focus group to your specifications (or help you figure out what focus group makes sense for your research needs, provide a moderator, run the software, and write up the results for you. When you don’t even know what you need to know, this can be a much more cost-effective alternative to trying to bang together a meaningless survey.

I’ll confess, my college coursework in industrial engineering and social sciences have made me heavily prejudiced against people who assume that anyone can design and administer an online survey that will give statistically valid results. If you’re running a survey to figure out what to have for lunch next week, by all means, use any free tool you can find, or program your own. But if you’re staking your next product launch or your company’s future on the results, you ought to look into the higher-end options. Zoomerang is definitely one of these.

  1. Zoomerang is beautiful, yes. But $599! Yeowch! Even if they broke it up into monthly payments?

    I’ve been using http://www.questionform.com, which is super simple and nice to look at, but still quite basic (they are new, though, and have informed me they will grow features with their user feedback). Wufoo.com is also pretty slick, but a little more complicated to use.

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  2. i know zoomerang is good but you should try out http://www.zarca.com ‘s online survey platform , we use it for our customer feedback program and I would say it awesome, easy to use, 3d reports for presentation purpose (to show the management), lot of other filters for reports, many types of delivery options. its way advanced in terms of functionality when comparing online survey and research platforms.

    I would recommend you to review it.

    Alec

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  3. I think that the most extensive solution is SensorPro (http://www.sensorpro.net/) which is available on a monthly subscription basis or a licensed basis. For an in-depth review of survey solutions like Surveymonkey, Websurveyor and Sensorpro the e-consultancy group will shortly be publishing their 2007 survey buyers guide see http://www.e-consultancy.com/topic/online-surveys-research/. This buyers guide provides a complete review of functionality and cost.

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  4. [...] we just reviewed mucho-expensive Zoomerang, I asked her what survey service she used. “I saw the Zoomerang [...]

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  5. [...] we just reviewed mucho-expensive Zoomerang, I asked her what survey service she used. “I saw the Zoomerang [...]

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  6. u guys should really see http://www.stellarsurvey.com
    i used to use survey monkey but all that changed when I discovered stellarsurvey with better interface, more features, and more afforadable prices than zommerang and survey monkey put together

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  7. Has anyone here ever tried Vovici’s stuff. I know a guy who used to use Zoomerang and he said that exporting data was a real pain, so reporting was tough. Evidently Vovici (used to be WebSurveyor/Perseus I think) is really good about that.

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  8. You are right – there are a tonne of options around when it comes to online survey software. It pays to think first about what it is you want to achieve before you go selecting a solution, and there are some common questions you can ask to help make the right choice. Also, people need to think carefully before using online panels, as they can actually give results that aren’t representative (even if the number of interviews achieved is large enough to claim significance).

    I’ve written a guide covering many of the issues people face when running a web survey (including the one above). It’s a draft at the moment, but people can download it for free in return for giving me some feedback on it. The URL is http://websurveytips.com/sos/

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  9. Is there any completely free online survey services? For example like http://www.surveyband.com What about open source applications?

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  10. Remote Researcher Saturday, December 6, 2008

    Zoomerang Basic is completly free. Just remember that you are limited to 100 responses per survey, have a maximum 30 questions per survey, and you need to be timely becuase you can only see survey responses for 10 days. I have used them for years and have never had to pay for it!

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