How Much Does an Online Survey Cost?

how much does online survey costIf you don't conduct market research frequently you'll have questions about price. Like how much does an online survey cost? Although the scope and price of the most common type of market research varies a great deal, it can be broken down into several core components.

These 4 components help you understand what goes into the cost of an online survey. Every online survey can be broken down into the following 4 cost categories:

(1) Project management

(2) Survey design, programming, and testing

(3) Cost of sample and number of completed surveys

(4) Analysis and reporting

Each of these costs is explained in more detail.

Category 1: Project Management

The costs for project management involve all of the set up and miscellaneous hours which go into an online survey project. This varies from market research firm to firm but may include time for client meetings, time to develop a kickoff meeting agenda, time to develop a workplan, or just general budgeted time for vendor-to-client communication.

Category 2: Survey Design, Programming, and Testing

This is one of the core pieces of an online survey project. This budgets for the time to draft an online survey in a Word document. Many market research firms bypass the Word document but we find sharing the questions first in a document rather than jumping immediately to online, helps with revisions and changes to the script. It allows everyone on the client team to review the survey quickly and easily.

Once the Word document is finalized, it is then programmed into an online survey software. The test link is shared with the client to view the survey as a real respondent. Simple programming may only take a few hours but a complex survey with multiple skip patterns, logic, and question sets can take as many as a few full days to program and test.

The best market research firms also test drive the survey with a live sample. Here are 7 reasons you should test your survey before jumping in. This is usually 100 invites or 1% of the sample. This uncovers issues before it is sent to the masses. All of these costs make up the survey design, programming, and testing portion of an online survey project.

Cost of sample can have a huge impact on online survey costs.

Category 3: Cost of Sample and Number of Completed Surveys

Another key component of an online survey is both the cost of sample and the number of completed surveys. In addition to the length of the survey, perhaps no other variable has a larger impact on cost than the number of completed surveys. 200 costs more than 100, 400 costs more than 200, and 1,000 costs more than 400. The best part about number of survey completes is the number can be customized to any level to fit your budget (pending there is enough sample).

There are two types of sample for an online survey:

(1) Customer Sample: This is the most cost-effective route. In these cases, the client passes the market research firm a list of customer emails to send invitations and reminders to. Because the client is not paying additional for this list, it is easy to implement and often offers higher response rates. This type of sample is used for Voice of Customer (VoC) surveys.

(2) Non-Customer Sample: This costs a bit more and can vary greatly. If you are looking for c-level decision-makers at Fortune 500 companies, the cost of sample and cost per complete will be much higher than a general sample of household decision-makers. With non-customer sample, many times market research firms are forced to work with regional and national panels or budget dollars to share the survey link on social media. This can prove costly.

Category 4: Analysis and Reporting

The final stage of the online survey budgeting reserves dollars for analysis and reporting. This can range from a simple one-page infographic to a comprehensive report with executive summary, recommendations, infographic, personas, and question-by-question results. The choice is yours depending on your budget and timeline but we always recommend hiring the market research firm to complete this. Their level of insight, perspective, and experience can add a lot of value to the data providing you with fresh takeaways and action items.

More Questions? We're Here to Help!

Drive Research is a market research firm serving Rochester, NY. With offices in Central New York we serve a variety of markets in Upstate New York and across the country.

Interested in receiving a quote for an online survey or another market research project? Contact us at or call us at 315-303-2040.

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