Happy Birthday to SurveyMonkey, who turned 20 this week.

In 1999, when SurveyMonkey burst onto the scene, there were virtually no cloud-based (SaaS) DIY survey platforms in existence. Looking back, we can see that SurveyMonkey was the original “disruptor” in the online survey space: it democratized the process of gathering feedback for companies of all sizes.


Unlike it’s far more expensive brethren (e.g., Qualtrics, Confirmit come to mind) who use a “turnstile model” (pay per complete), SurveyMonkey is a flat rate. This lets researchers leverage the platform’s power at almost limitless scale. I can think of no other software platform that is as economical and feature-rich (see a short list of hacks below).


Much like disruption in other areas, everyone instinctively knew that online research would change everything. And so it was. Costs were driven lower. Project timing was vastly compressed. But there was a trade-off: the true identity of respondents was often unknown.

This opened the door to a “professional respondent” problem, automated (“bot”) survey taking, and thus outright fraud.


In the past 20 years, progress has been made. De-duplication technology (e.g., RelevantID) and identity technologies (e.g., Veriglif, blockchain) are creating positive disruption with solutions to improve data quality. Ultimately, newer technologies and reward structures will put more power in the hands of those who choose to participate in survey research. Data breaches have added to the pressure for more comprehensive solutions. Greater oversight and government regulation are already playing an increasingly powerful role in shaping the future of research and data collection.


SurveyMonkey completely changed the “price of entry” for marketing researchers and data scientists. Many tasks can be handled within an environment like SurveyMonkey. But trained professionals in marketing research understand experimental design, buyer psychology, questionnaire construction, and sources of bias that can completely invalidate a research study.


The question that companies must ask themselves is: do I have the skill set to grasp these issues, or to leverage the full power of this great platform?


As an example, here are 12 powerful SurveyMonkey hacks you should be expert in if you want to hang with the pros (you’ll need a Premier or Professional plan, but they are quite affordable):


  1. Block rotation: control order bias by creating identical blocks and then randomizing them. This is extremely helpful for concept screening or conjoint designs.
  2. Skip logic: use choice responses to re-direct to other questions (individual conditions by response).
  3. Advanced logic: show/hide questions/pages using multiple conditions or complex criteria.
  4. Modules: cross-link entire questionnaires by passing system variables.
  5. Stimuli: obtain reaction to concepts or full-motion video, which is easily embedded.
  6. Alerts: use the API, or services like Zapier, to send alerts and feed CRM systems or vizualization tools like Tableau.
  7. Incentives: integrate external rewards (e.g., virtual Visa or Mastercard codes) with services like Rybbon.
  8. Scoring: use algorithms to assign respondents to segments and route them through the survey.
  9. A/B Testing: this allows you to test different language for introducing a question to determine whether there is a biasing effect of wording or not. This is especially helpful in academic work.
  10. Quotas: set quotas based on specific question completion, or quotas based on total responses.
  11. Export: grab your raw data as SPSS or comma-delimited files for use in analysis packages like WinCross or visualization tools like Tableau or PowerBI.
  12. Show Off: create a custom URL for your survey to give it a more professional image, or create “white label” surveys for your company or business, or use CSS to create an entire look and feel for your business.


    But maybe you don’t care about these geeky details. What does this mean for you as a Research/Insights Director, Director of Analytics, Marketing VP, or a CMO?

It means that you can get world-class customer feedback for a fraction of what you are probably paying now — without paying any penalty in data quality.

Give us a call to discuss how we can work together to provide you an affordable customer satisfaction or feedback system that really works.
Surveys & Forecasts, LLC