The 10 best online survey apps in 2021

By Eric Ravenscraft - Last updated August 5, 2021 -

You are reading: Chapter 7 of 9

Listening to your gut is a good instinct if you're a hero in an action movie or really hungry. For everyone else, it's probably a good idea to get some feedback on your ideas. If you want to know what your customers think of your product, need ideas from your team for an upcoming show, or want to research public opinion for a project you're working on, surveys are a great way to get that feedback.

There are so many survey apps out there, and it can be overwhelming figuring out which one does what. Especially given the overlap with form builder apps, which often do similar—but not quite the same—things. The good news is that whether you're doing product research, trying to improve your business, or finally settling the question of whether a hot dog is a sandwich, there's an ideal tool out there for you.

To help you figure out where to start, we tested dozens of online survey apps. The result is a list of our top ten apps, based on which tasks they're best suited for.

The 10 best online survey apps

What makes a great survey app?

Here are the criteria we used when considering apps for this list:

  • In order to get the answers you need, you have to ask the right questions. A good survey app will allow you to pick from a variety of question types—like multiple choice, short answer, or rating scales, for example—and customize each question in a way that makes sense to the people answering it. Customizing questions also allows you to collect the exact type of information you're looking for, even when you're not looking for a binary yes-no or either-or answer.

  • A solid online survey tool will allow you to build a survey that uses logic like branching, so that you can direct respondents to answer further questions based on their previous answers. For example, if your first question is "Have you seen The Princess Bride?" you only want people who answer "Yes" to see the next question: "Who is your favorite character from The Princess Bride?" We also looked at services that allowed advanced scripting features, if you want to put your coding skills to use on making your survey just right.

  • Collecting data is useless without having a good way to learn from it, so we looked at how well survey tools let you analyze and export data. A good survey tool will let you take your data out in common formats like CSV, Excel, and PowerPoint. For some advanced uses, you might even want a survey app to support SPSS export.

  • Branding and design are important for your surveys. If you're doing research for your business, you want the people responding to your survey to recognize your brand, so they feel comfortable sharing information with you. And a well-designed survey will help respondents know how to answer and follow along. We looked at how easy it was to customize both aspects.

  • Finally, we considered the value that each app offers for the money. Many survey apps offer similar features, but some will charge based on how many responses your surveys get, while others will allow more responses but charge for features that other platforms give away for free.

While these are the absolute basic criteria for good survey tools, this list includes many apps that go above and beyond in terms of features. These tools help you tackle advanced techniques, like scripting complex survey logic, automating your workflow, and ensuring your survey is accessible.

It's also worth noting that there are plenty of form apps that offer similar features. Some, like Google Forms, may be included in a suite of software you already use. But most form apps are designed to help you collect specific information, like the names and email addresses of people who'd like to subscribe to your email newsletter. Survey tools, on the other hand, are aimed at large-scale data collection and analysis that uncovers broad trends.


Best survey app for beginners

SurveyPlanet (Web)

Know you need to create a survey, but not sure how to get started? SurveyPlanet is an excellent place to start. It offers over 90 survey templates with pre-written questions that you can use as-is or tweak to better fit your needs.

As you build your survey, you can view a live copy as you edit—right in the same window. The editing panel is a thin column on the left side of the screen and, as you add your survey title, choose from nine question types (e.g., from multiple choice to an image-based question), and input questions, the right side of the screen will display and populate your survey in real time.

SurveyPlanet makes editing fast in other ways, too. By default, for each question you enter, you'll see one text field below it to type in a response. But if you choose Multiple choice, Rating, or Form as your question type, you'll automatically see additional text fields appear as you begin typing the first response option. This lets you quickly add responses to each question without having to click the + button or press Enter on your keyboard.

We found it easy to quickly create multi-question surveys and tweak the pre-made templates to create exactly what we needed.

SurveyPlanet Price: Free for unlimited surveys, questions, and responses; from $20/month for a Pro plan with question branching and result exports.

Best survey app for automatically creating surveys on a phone or tablet

SurveyMonkey (Web, Android, iOS)

One of the biggest names in survey apps, SurveyMonkey also offers one of the easiest ways to create surveys, even when you're mobile. The service uses a wizard to walk you through creating your survey, providing real-world examples for how a question might be structured, which can help you decide how to format your survey.

This wizard is especially powerful when combined with SurveyMonkey's mobile app. While most survey apps just let you collect responses on mobile, SurveyMonkey allows you to create, edit, gather responses, and analyze results on your smartphone or tablet. And anything you do on mobile will sync with your desktop account and vice versa.

When you're done building the survey, you can send it via email, text, or WhatsApp, or share it on social media. As responses start coming in, you can see the total number of responses and completed responses and dig deeper into the data with a pie chart that shows the number of responses to each individual question. This level of analytics is rare on mobile, but SurveyMonkey has figured out a way to let you drill down into the details, even on a small screen.

When you connect SurveyMonkey to your other apps with Zapier, you can automate key parts of the survey process. You can send personalized thank-you notes to respondents, create to-do list items based on survey responses, and more—all with no extra manual work.

SurveyMonkey Price: Free for surveys with up to 10 questions; from $25/user/month for a Team Advantage plan with unlimited questions and surveys.

Best survey app for visualizing logic branching

Typeform (Web)

Typeform lets you create visually engaging surveys.

Typeform does a lot of things very well, including having a wide library of some of the best-looking themes we've found as well as chatbot-style surveys. But the unique feature that caught our eye was how Typeform visualizes logic branches. Where most platforms use dropdown dialogs or lists of conditions, Typeform lets you see question branches visualized on a map.

Whenever you add logic branches that affect how the user flows from one question to another, a flow chart is automatically updated to reflect the various paths available. You can zoom in and out of the chart to view questions and their answers and quickly make sure users aren't hitting dead ends or getting stuck in loops. It's an incredibly useful feature, especially since flaws in the logic of a survey could result in users not finishing.

On top of this, Typeform lets users easily search Unsplash—a repository of royalty-free images—or a library of icons for the perfect visuals without ever leaving Typeform. It also lets you preview how these visual elements will look as you build your survey, in the same window, so you can play with the placement of each image in relation to each question. You can even preview how they'll render on a mobile device.

Typeform is a great all-around option, whether you're looking to customize how your surveys look, build an embeddable chatbot, or craft complex logic paths. And when you create automated Typeform workflows with Zapier, you can take your surveys a step further. You can use survey responses to create new email subscribers, add items to your to-do list, and more—no code required.

Typeform Price: Free for up to three surveys with ten questions each; from $35/month for an Essentials plan with up to 1,000 responses and custom Thank You screens.

Best survey app for advanced survey logic and scripting

QuestionPro (Web)

One of the best ways to get high-quality results in your survey is to make sure that your audience is answering the right questions. That's where logic branching and scripting comes in. If you ask a person, "Have you used our website before?" then how they answer that question might determine what questions you follow up with. If they answer "Yes," you might ask, "What did you like best about using our website?" But if they say "No," you might follow up with, "What service did you use instead of ours?" or "What improvements could we make in the future?"

Logic branching lets you create these variations on a survey. Many services offer the feature, but QuestionPro goes above and beyond. On top of offering basic survey logic, it also supports custom scripting, which allows for even greater flexibility, if you have a bit of coding know-how.

For example, you could create a script that creates a pool of questions and then randomly selects a few of those questions to show to different people. This can be helpful if you want to do A/B testing or to reduce survey bias. Survey fatigue, for example, occurs when respondents get tired of answering questions the longer a survey goes on, and so the answers on later questions might be more rushed than earlier questions. Randomizing survey question order can help reduce this kind of bias from being focused on specific questions.

QuestionPro's custom scripting starts on the Team Edition paid tier, so it might be out of reach unless you're working for a decent-sized company, but even if you're an individual, there are basic logic tools on the free tier, and even more advanced branching logic on the $85/month Advanced tier.

And by connecting QuestionPro to the other apps in your tech stack, you can automatically get notified about new responses or add respondents to your CRM.

QuestionPro Price: Free for unlimited surveys with up to 1,000 responses per survey; from $85/month for an Advanced plan with unlimited responses per survey.

Best survey app for offline surveys

QuickTapSurvey (Web, Android, iOS)

How often have you been handed a receipt at a store and asked to fill out a survey on it when you get home? And, be honest, how often have you actually done it? This is why in-person surveys can be so effective. Gathering info from your audience when you have them present, and while their mind is still focused on whatever you want to survey them about, can be incredibly useful. And QuickTapSurvey offers one of the best ways to build offline surveys.

You can create your own survey or choose from more than 50 customizable templates based on survey category, like an employee exit survey or post-event feedback survey. If you build a new survey, you can select a "face-to-face survey" that shows one question at a time or a "mobile form" that allows you to run mobile-only surveys and shows all questions in a list. When it's time to build your survey, you drag and drop different question elements from a floating toolbar, like ratings, text and number fields, and more.

Once you complete your survey, click Publish, and then log in to the QuickTapSurvey app on your smartphone or tablet and download your newly published survey to collect responses. The survey can be filled out offline and synced back to your account automatically when you're online again.

With Zapier, you can also save time on survey follow-up. By connecting QuickTapSurvey to the other apps you use, you can automatically create new leads from survey responses, share responses with your team in a chat app, and more.

QuickTapSurvey Price: Free 14-day trial; from $49/month for a Pro plan with custom branding and advanced question types.

Best survey app for one-click surveys

YesInsights (Web)

When creating a survey, sometimes simple is best. YesInsights forces you to keep things simple by only allowing you to create one-question surveys that respondents can answer with just one click. That's right. You can only create surveys with one question, which allows you to collect very precise responses.

The setup process is simple. You choose between a regular survey or an NPS survey and whether you'd like to email out your survey or use a beta widget that displays it on your website. Then you're ready to draft your one-question survey.

If you choose to distribute your survey via email, you can create a landing page that respondents see after they click their answer or set up a triggered follow-up email. When you're ready to distribute your survey, you select your email service from more than 35 options, and YesInsights will provide the plain text and HTML for you to copy and paste into your email client.

If you choose to embed your survey on your website, you can customize the widget's appearance, selecting a light or dark theme and entering hex codes for background and highlight colors. You can also set up a thank-you message that appears after respondents have finished the survey and indicate when and where the survey should appear on certain page URLs (immediately after the page loads, after scrolling a little, after scrolling to the bottom, etc). When your survey is ready, you'll need to install YesInsights' JavaScript snippet on your website.

It's also easy to use survey results from YesInsights to power activities in other apps. For example, you can create a Zap that adds survey respondents to a specific email marketing list or puts responses into a spreadsheet as new rows.

YesInsights Price: Starts at $20/month for a Solo plan with five surveys and 1,000 responses.

Best survey app for Facebook Messenger chatbot surveys

Surveybot (Web)

In order to get good responses to your surveys, you need to be able to reach the right audience. Surveybot lets you distribute your surveys to an already-established audience on Facebook by contacting them via Facebook Messenger or Facebook Workplace.

When you sign up for Surveybot, you either sign up using Facebook Messenger or Facebook Workplace, or create an account manually and connect your Facebook account later. Building the survey itself is easy—you can customize welcome and thank-you messages, then drag and drop question types into the editor. You'll see a live preview of your survey appear as you type your questions. You can choose certain logic, like ending the survey if someone responds with an invalid answer, or set reminders if respondents haven't completed the survey after X number of days.

If you have a Facebook Page, you have a variety of options for distribution. When you're in the Campaign phase of Surveybot's editor, you can choose to automatically message users with your survey when they comment on a post or click on your ad. Once users begin answering your surveys with Surveybot, they'll automatically be added to a "panel," a segment inside Surveybot that shows all previous respondents.

When you have enough users in your panel, you could send a direct message over Messenger about your new survey. And lastly, you can trigger surveys to launch when someone completes another survey, when a respondent enters a panel segment, or by calling the Surveybot API. If you'd rather not use Facebook, you still have the option of using a standard link to share your survey via other means like email or your own website.

When you connect Surveybot to the thousands of other apps on Zapier, you can cut out a lot of the busywork surrounding surveys. You can create Zaps to push new Surveybot responses into Slack, for example, or create new leads in your marketing automation hub, without any code.

Surveybot Price: Free for first 50 survey responses; then pay-as-you-go at a starting rate of $3 for 50 responses and scaling up with more responses.

Best survey app for chatbot style surveys

SurveySparrow (Web)

You've probably been to dozens of websites that have chatbots popping up in the corner to help new visitors. SurveySparrow lets you create your own, by crafting a survey that takes the form of a helpful chatbot, asking your users questions in a conversational style, on top of letting you create more traditional surveys.

SurveySparrow is one of the few services we found that not only offered chatbot-style surveys, but even included them on the free tier. When creating a survey, you can choose from a few templates and see how they would play out in a simulated chat. This approach lets you craft surveys that feel less formal and might be more likely to get answers from your audience.

Better yet, while the surveys are styled like a chatbot, they're more robust than, say, Facebook Messenger. You can create custom buttons, scales, or multiple choice answers, in addition to open-ended text responses. This gives it more flexibility than SurveyBot, although you'll need to distribute the survey yourself through links, QR codes, or embeds on your own website.

Even if you don't want to use chatbot-style surveys, SurveySparrow offers a robust array of traditional surveys with attractive designs. You can customize the templates or create your own surveys from scratch with branching logic, and even export your data to CSV, PDF, and Excel formats on the free tier.

By connecting SurveySparrow to Zapier, you can do things like get notifications for new responses, automatically add respondents to your email marketing app, or send event feedback surveys to all attendees.

SurveySparrow Price: Free for 3 surveys with 10 questions and 100 responses each; then $19/month for Basic with 1,000 responses per month with unlimited questions.

Best survey app for visually appealing surveys

forms.app (Web)

The design of your survey, as we've talked about, is incredibly important if you want to stick to your company's branding, or even just get people to stay engaged long enough to finish your survey. On that front, forms.app excels more than any other survey app we tested. The service offers a huge library of dozens of themes with unique color patterns and even animated backgrounds.

Once you pick a theme, you can customize it to an impressive degree. You can change the fonts used in the form, the primary and accent colors, the shape of the boxes around the answers, where buttons are positioned, and a bunch of other small factors. You can even tweak the text to read from right to left, if you're creating surveys in languages that read that way.

Even more surprisingly, you can customize the appearance of your survey using custom CSS even on the free version of forms.app. This is often a paid feature of other survey tools, so we were impressed to see it included here for free.

This service is also, as the name would suggest, a more traditional forms app, so if you have a need to conduct surveys and also gather form data, using one service might be in your best interest. Even if you don't need the rest of the form features, though, few other services will offer your audience better-looking or more customizable surveys than forms.app.

Connect forms.app to Zapier, and you can automatically send emails, create tasks, and more whenever there are new survey submissions.

forms.app Price: Free for up to 10 forms and 250 responses/month; from $9/month for a Basic plan with unlimited forms and 1,000 responses per month.

Best survey app for advanced or corporate surveys

SoGoSurvey (Web)

Most people don't need much from a survey—just a simple way to ask a few questions and analyze the results. However, if you're working with a larger company, then you might need a bigger library of questions to quickly build surveys, security features to make sure only certain people are able to access the survey, or more powerful data analysis tools. SoGoSurvey offers all of these.

For starters, while creating surveys, SoGo has a large question bank with ready-made template questions. Unlike other services, which offer templates for the whole survey, you can mix and match these questions in order to build the survey you need. There are over 200 questions in mostly corporate-oriented categories like employee satisfaction, compensation, and work-life balance. You can also create your own custom question bank of all the questions you create.

When it's time to distribute your survey, you can create single-use links so each person can only submit one answer, or multi-use links so many people can submit responses from the same link. You can also add a password to the survey in order to keep people from outside your organization from submitting the survey.

Higher tiers of SoGoSurvey let you create custom branching logic, give you total control over your survey's theme (including adding your own company branding), and can even automatically translate the survey to other languages. And by connecting SoGoSurvey to Zapier, you can automatically create contacts, tasks, notifications, and more whenever there are new survey responses.

SoGoSurvey: Free for unlimited surveys with up to 100 responses per survey (and up to 200 total responses) per year; from $25/month for a Plus plan with simple skip logic, Excel data export, and custom company logos.

Other great online survey tools

Keep in mind: you might already have an app that includes a survey builder. Many form builder apps include survey templates, and all could be used to make a survey with a little extra work. Marketing automation tools—including email marketing apps like Constant Contact—also often include survey builders, so if you're already using one of them for your marketing, it might be best to use it for surveys, too.

Or, if you're working in a large enterprise that has more advanced needs from your survey, you might find tools like Qualtrics, Adobe Marketing Cloud, or Zoho Survey to have more features you need.


Go to Chapter 8!

Originally published in June 2016 by Matthew Guay, this post has also had contributions from Emily Esposito and Hannah Herman.

Image Credits: Clipboard photo by Dave Crosby.

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