Running an online survey seems easy, right?
Many free market research resources offer simple ways to write your survey questions, create a link to share them, or invite respondents via email. However, you may or may not realize that you could be biting off more than you can chew.
Seeking alternatives to Qualtrics can be trickier than you think. That said, if you’re still dead set on running the survey in-house by yourself, we provide five of those alternatives later in this blog post.
But…there may be a better option that you haven’t considered. Did you know there are full-service market research firms that will manage the entire survey process for you?
These market research companies lend their expertise to:
- Draft the right survey questions based on your objectives 🎯
- Program the survey into its platform, saving you from having to train on a platform yourself 🖥️
- Manage all of the invitations and reminders for the survey to ensure you don’t mess anything up 📨
- Report on the data for you, pulling out the critical insights and recommendations 📊
With that in mind, you may ask yourself, “is it still worth my time to subscribe/buy a platform when someone can do all this for me?”
You may also be wondering if the cost is worth it and if there are cheaper alternatives to Qualtrics that can still get you the information you need.
These are legitimate questions to ask and ones our market research company will help you better understand in more detail below.
Risks of the DIY Qualtrics Approach to Market Research
For most organizations, the main disadvantage of Qualtrics is the cost compared to its other DIY survey counterparts.
Their target users are researchers that come from large corporations and universities that have budgets for massive market research projects. In fact, many of the organizations that use Qualtrics have allotted budgets for training being that the platform is so complex.
Aside from the cost and complexity of the platform, there are many risks that come with any DIY survey tool like Qualtrics.
Sure, there are many free market research options that exist - but think about the additional costs of doing the research in-house.
- The time and resources spent during onboarding or sales calls when selecting the best survey tool
- The hours or days spent learning how to use it
- The danger of using the platform incorrectly and collecting bad data for your team or customers
All of these headaches for an online survey tool you may never use again.
For these reasons (and many others) it will benefit you to instead work with a market research company. They live and breathe these types of projects. With this experience comes expertise in writing surveys, programming, sending invites, cleaning the data, and reporting on the findings.
We touch on this point further in this blog post, as well as in the video below.
💡 The Key Takeaway: Survey Monkey alternatives, and even Survey Monkey itself, can offer a lot. But they don’t offer the special insight an outsourced *human* team will give you.
Benefits of a Market Research Firm Managing Your Survey
Previously, we discussed the four major benefits of using a third-party expert to assist with your survey, including design, programming expertise, managing data collection, and reporting.
Again, we think that working with a third-party team is one of the best alternatives to Qualtrics because a tangible group of experts will be able to address key areas of concern.
A few more details on the core benefits of using a third-party market research firm are below.
Draft the right survey questions based on your objectives 🎯
Your project starts with a kickoff meeting. This will be with your dedicated market research team.
They’ll help you understand why you are conducting the research, what your priority and secondary objectives are, and how you plan on using the results.
Kickoff meetings are important in market research because they act as a way for the team to really delve into the client’s core goals.
Based on these topical learnings, the research team will draft a survey for your review and sign-off.
The market research team will consider all angles: closed vs. open-ended questions, key performance indicators (KPIs), benchmarking questions, and others.
Program the survey into its platform, saving you self-training time 🖥️
These full-service market research firms often subscribe to/use several different platforms. Since they are already subscribed using these platforms for a variety of clients, it will save you the cost of having to subscribe yourself.
You become one of many clients they serve through the platform, with each survey customized to your needs, theme, branding, etc. They know the intricacies of each platform, so you don’t have to worry about programming something incorrectly.
Additionally, an outsourced team will work with a detailed programming checklist for surveys to ensure a quality experience.
Manage all invitations and reminders to ensure you don’t mess anything up 📨
Nobody wants to send a mass email to their customer base with a mistake (dead link, bad webpage, or something else). Yet, we’ve all seen them. Far too often.
It would be best if you nailed the communication when reaching out to your customer base on a mass scale.
The market research firm you decide to work with undoubtedly has templates that use best practice language to cover all bases which encourages a high open rate and click-through rate.
Can report on the data for you, pulling out the critical insights and recommendations 📊
Probably one of, if not the most valuable aspects of using a market research agency.
Using the platform on your own will likely get the charts and graphs with your tabulated survey data to share with your team. But what does it all mean? How does it compare to other similar clients?
Using an expert in this space can help bring the data to life, tell a story, and give your team detailed insights and recommendations to take the appropriate action with a strategy based on the survey results.
This often comes in the form of a PowerPoint deck and presentation with a Q&A.
Read more about this step in our post, Topline or Comprehensive Market Research Report: What’s the Difference?
💡 The Key Takeaway: An outsourced market research team will work with you throughout the entire survey process. This allows you to share goals and ask questions with experts in real-time.
Aside from working with a market research company like Drive Research, the 5 best Qualtrics alternatives include:
- Google Forms (free)
- SurveyMonkey (free option and paid options are affordable)
- QuestionPro (affordable)
- Alchemer (mid-tier pricing)
- Decipher/Forsta (expensive)
Each platform has a long list of pros and cons, but we decided to feature the pricing in our list.
As you compare these survey platform options, consider the following factors we put together as part of our checklist.
|Price||Subscription fee, purchase fee, cost per user, cost per survey, etc.|
|No. surveys||Cap on responses, package cost for responses, etc.|
|Cost per survey||Charge per survey response|
|No. of users||Unlimited users, a charge per user, levels of users, etc.|
|Importing||Platform offers the ability to import from another site, Word doc, etc.|
|Survey themes||Customized survey themes with colors/logos, templates offered, etc.|
|SPAM filters||The deliverability of emails, domain rating, SPAM rating, etc.|
|Embedding||Ability to take surveys and embed them on websites|
|Reporting||Banner files, export to PowerPoint/Word, etc.|
|Exporting||Capabilities, and types of files (CSV, SPSS, etc.)|
|Online data||Offer live 24/7 portals with tabulations, email reports, passcodes, etc.|
|Offline capabilities||Collecting data on tablets without internet connectivity to download|
|Advanced piping/routing||Skip patterns, if and when statements, carrying forward answers, etc.|
|Email formatting||Custom email invitation language, themes, etc.|
|Survey alerts||Creating email alerts for specific responses, customized teams, etc.|
|Sending data||Importing CRM data to survey (revenue, PII, etc.)|
|Text analytics||Open-ended analysis (sentiment, word count, word clouds, etc.)|
|Advanced analytics||Significance testing, cluster analysis, TURF, MaxDiff, Q-sort, etc.|
|API integration||Ability to have CRM or order system talk to the platform to automate|
|Customized URL||Ability to set up a custom subdomain with your website|
When considering sites like Qualtrics, it’s important to ask for demos when evaluating these survey platforms. This allows you to get an inside look at the platforms and evaluate the ease of use, which is critical.
We recommend asking for a 30-day trial or pilot before committing long-term. Unfortunately, with all of the nuances and training that come with learning a new survey platform, the only way to learn if it’s a true fit for you or your team is to use it and be in the trenches.
Also, if you work in the education or non-profit space, Qualtrics may offer discounts.
💡 The Key Takeaway: Take a significant amount of time weighing the pros and cons of each platform you’re considering. Don’t forget to inquire about demos–this step will potentially save you in the long run.
Choosing from all the survey alternatives available can be a daunting task, which is why considering an outsourced firm may be the answer you need.
Drive Research is a market research company based in New York. If you’re considering hiring a third-party market research firm rather than going down the path of subscribing or purchasing a survey platform, our team can offer guidance for your specific needs.
Would you like to learn more about our market research services? Reach out using any of the options below.
- Message us on our website
- Email us at [email protected]
- Call us at 888-725-DATA
- Text us at 315-303-2040
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.