How Much Does it Cost to Outsource an Online Survey?

The cost of outsourcing an online survey with a third-party market research firm is dependent on several impactful factors.

The cost of surveys online varies because the objectives, project specifications, and research goals differ for each client or sponsor of the study. 

In this video, our online survey company will discuss four factors that impact the cost of outsourcing an online survey and how they can either reduce or increase the estimate provided in a market research proposal

The five variables making up the cost of a third-party survey include:

  1. The length of the online survey
  2. The number of responses necessary for the online survey
  3. The target audience of who will be taking the online survey
  4. Offering an incentive 
  5. The level of reporting 

Perhaps you already know the answers to these variables.

Simply fill out this short form with more background into your project specifications and our online survey company will be in contact with a project estimate shortly! 

If you are still curious as to how these variables can affect the cost of an online survey with a third-party, click play on the video below. 


1. Survey Length 

The length of an online survey can impact the final cost when your organization chooses to outsource this project to a third-party. A 5-question survey will take the online survey company less time to write, design, and program than if the survey was 40-questions. With fewer hours necessary for a market research study, the less a project proposal will be.

How long should an online survey be? Our online survey firm recommends publishing a survey that is 15 to 20 questions. On average this will take respondents 3 to 5 minutes to complete. With any market research study, it is important to keep the respondent in mind, therefore the easiest and most interactive the online survey is the better. 

Drive Research has found this survey length produces the best response rate compared to longer form surveys. It is important to receive the most amount of responses to an online survey as possible as this will provide a more accurate and reliable depiction of your target audience’s opinions. 


2. Number of Responses 

When budgeting for an online survey outsourced through an online survey company, you must first ask yourself, “How many responses or number of people do I want to complete my survey?” Is the number of responses 100? 500? 1,000? As the number of survey responses increases, so does the cost of a survey online. 

How many responses is a good number to aim for with an online survey? As noted above, the more people completing a survey, the more reliable the data becomes. With this in mind Drive Research, a national online survey company, has a “sweet spot” we often recommend to clients. 400 responses is considered the golden number in market research.

Why? We explain in more detail, here


3. Audience

The audience or target respondent of whom you’d like to complete the survey is typically one of two choices: customers and non-customers or the general market.

If conducing a customer satisfaction survey, it will be easier to recruit survey respondents as your organization likely has a CRM of email addresses of all your current and past customers. With easy access to an on-hand sample, this will likely be your cheapest approach for an outsourced online survey. 

However, we know this is not always the case. Actually, it is extremely beneficial to survey non-customers for a multitude of reasons. While surveying a general population is advantageous for any organization, it will be a little more costly to recruit respondents because their contact information is less accessible. 

With that being said, if looking to conduct a non-customer online survey outsourcing this project will be your best bet. Online survey companies like Drive Research, have the tools and resources to recruit those who match your target customer, with no contact information necessary on your end.

With cost-effective social and behavioral recruitment tactics, your organization will be saving time and money by outsourcing this task than if you were to conduct the market research study in-house. 

Another reason the cost of an online survey may increase is if there are several audience criteria or quotas an online survey company has to fulfill. For example, it will be less costly to recruit respondents 18-55 living in New York than it would be to recruit 18-24 right-handed males. 

Drive Research uses a non-traditional, yet tested approach to find hard-to-reach online survey respondents cost-effectively. Learn more about our process for surveying non-customers.  


4. Offering an Incentive

Oftentimes brands executing online surveys offer respondents some type of reward to incentivize and increase completion rates.

Depending on your budget, an incentive can be a pay-per-response or a raffle. 

Common types of rewards our market research company recommends include:

  • Raffling a $500 Amazon gift card
  • Raffling 5, $100 Amazon gift cards
  • $5 for each qualified complete

Your choice of incentive is dependent on your target respondent. For instance, a general population survey conducted with an online market research panel will need less of an incentive to participate in a survey than business founders, CEOs, and decision-makers.

Recently Drive Research conducted an online survey with our panel to understand what type of reward is most incentivizing. Read the results in our blog post, Market Research incentives: New Survey Shows What Reward is Most Appealing.


5. Level of Reporting 

The last factor of an online survey that may or may not impact the final cost of partnering with a third party, is the level of reporting. If your market research budget is tight, ask your online survey agency if they offer different levels of reporting. 

A top-line or summary is a lot less expensive than a fully written comprehensive report with an appendix and infographic.

Drive Research uses an à la carte approach to our online survey research report options. We allow our clients to pick and choose from 6 key pieces of a market research report.

Our online survey company understands the importance of market research and tries to fit within the means of most market research budgets. 

topline vs. comprehensive market research report offerings

**Editor's Note: This blog post was originally posted in November 2019 but has since been updated for readability and updated information.


Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a market research company located in Syracuse, NY. We partner with brands across the country to execute various market research studies such as online surveys, focus groups, intercept surveys, and more.

Interested in receiving a quote for an online survey or another market research project? Reach out through any of the four ways below.

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at info@driveresearch.com
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

Author Bio George Kuhn

George Kuhn

George is the Owner & President of Drive Research. He has consulted for hundreds of regional, national, and global organizations over the past 15 years. He is a CX certified VoC professional with a focus on innovation and new product management.

Learn more about George, here.


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