UPDATE 12/12/2016: This article has been updated from its original content to reflect feedback, software additions, and software updates from existing options in the article.
There is a fantastic article on The Muse about the “Power of ‘I Don’t Know,’” which goes into detail about the benefits of admitting the fact that we can’t possibly know everything. Admitting we don’t know gives us room as humans to explore new ideas, meet new people, and make self-discoveries about ourselves.
As an event manager, your job is to bring people together under a common cause, theme, or belief, but the truth is, people in groups can be fickle. Not everyone can like the same speakers, the same foods, and the same atmosphere, and it isn’t possible for you to know every event attendees thoughts and feelings about your event in real-time. However, you can always plan for the future.
To do this, the best thing you can do is admit that you do not know what it is that your attendees want and ask them yourself. Survey software is the perfect solution to this problem and if you are an event manager on a budget it can be hard to justify expenses on surveys.
So, in order to cut costs and gather the information that you need, here are five free survey tools you should consider.
The biggest name in online surveys has to be Survey Monkey. Survey Monkey is used by many big names such as Samsung and Facebook to conduct user surveys and offers many of the key features needed run a basic free survey.
The key term is “basic” because the free option for Survey Monkey is just that. The free version offers a ten-question survey for 100 users, along with some basic theme customizations. The survey is also embeddable for those of you that need the survey on your event website.
For the more extravagant features such as exporting data, data trends, response filters, printable reports, and even adding your own logo, you will have to invest in one of the other paid options, starting with a $26 month-to-month plan.
Survey Monkey’s free option is perfect for those small events, such as weddings or office parties, but isn’t up to snuff for large corporate events and nonprofit conferences.
Before researching this list I had never heard of Survey Planet. In my experience, Survey Monkey has pretty much sucked all of the air out of the room for online survey services, leaving little opportunity for others to make themselves as widely known. However, after looking into some of the features, I was surprised that Survey Planet hadn’t overtaken Survey Monkey in their own field.
Survey Planet offers features under their free option that were limited or non-existent under Survey Monkey’s free platform. The first three features of the free option alone set Survey Planet ahead of the competition with unlimited surveys, unlimited questions, and unlimited responses, creating a free option that is more friendly to larger events with big attendance lists and lots of feedback to be had.
However, Survey Planet does pull punches in their free option by offering more hardcore data-driven features such as result exporting and survey charting under their paid option at $180 per year (or $20 per month).
If in-depth data analysis is not what you are looking for yet still require attendee feedback, Survey Planet is a solid choice to go with.
3. Google Forms
Google is in everything, even the free online survey market. You cannot escape them, they are like the Borg. Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.
In all seriousness, there is a reason that Google is in everything and that is because Google offers great products and software, just like its Forms program. Like most Google Drive applications, it is 100% free and offers tons of awesome features like offering unlimited surveys and respondents, storing data automatically in Google Sheets, and allowing for unique visual customization.
It’s pretty hard to compete with the necessities of survey collection being offered for free.
4. Survey Gizmo
Survey Gizmo’s free option has its benefits and its drawbacks in features, but overall comes out as one you ought to consider. While Survey Gizmo does place a 50 respondent limit on your unlimited number of surveys, this won’t be much of a problem if you run smaller events.
Where Survey Gizmo truly shines in the free survey department is its features not offered by many other vendors, particularly data exporting capabilities and basic reporting features like star-rating and ranking grids, which most vendors only offer in their paid options.
In order to unlock other features such as HTML customization, video embedding, and custom question building, you have to upgrade to one of the paid plans which start at $25 per month.
Although eSurvey’s free option does limit users and respondents, they do offer more data-driven features such as exporting your data to PDF, Excel, and CSV, as well as filtering results allowing you to easily parse through your data.
However, the free option for eSurvey isn’t the prettiest and doesn’t allow much customization in terms of visuals. In order to unlock the aesthetic features of eSurvey, you have to purchase a paid option, which starts at a reasonable $19 a month.
So, if you are looking for a more data driven option, eSurvey is the way to go.
Judging by their clean user interface and their “down-to-Earth” human approach to surveys, my first impression of Typeform is one that values usability and convenience above all else. Since not everyone is a computer wizard, their tagline “Why we’re here… to make things a little more human,” connects with most people.
Relatability aside, Typeform offers several paid tiers as well as a free option which includes plenty of templates to choose from, unlimited surveys, unlimited questions, basic metrics, data exports, and theme design. While this software doesn’t offer as in-depth reporting as others, it is perfect for surveys that aren’t data heavy.
As long as you aren’t looking to dive deep into the numbers, the free version of Typeform is perfect for events of all sizes.
7. Zoho Survey
Zoho Survey offers a free option as an alternative to their three other paid options. Unfortunately their free option is not nearly as feature heavy as some of the other choices in this list.
The features list for the free survey software is as follows: unlimited surveys, 15 questions per survey, and 150 responses per survey. These limitations create a narrow set of circumstances where this choice would be helpful at an event. Zoho Survey’s free alternative is best suited for small events, such as get togethers, office parties, and weddings. If you aren’t looking to dive into the data and you are simply looking for responses on certain aspects of your event, then the simplicity of Zoho may appeal to you.
That being said, once you graduate beyond the free option, Zoho offers lots of premium features with their paid software, including Google Docs integration, advanced reporting, share surveys, custom, CRM integration, multilingual surveys, and portal creation.
Do you agree with our list? Are there any survey tools that you feel should’ve been included in our list? Let us know in the comments below and we may include your suggestions in further updates!
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