5 types of online audience surveying tools to help create a more customer-centred website and brand
Web analytics tools such as Google Analytics are used by nearly every company since they provide valuable quantitative data on site visitor behaviour. No surprise there.
But web analytics systems don't give direct qualitative feedback from site visitors and customers and the surprise to me, is that relatively few companies use these, although their popularity is increasing rapidly.
We believe that qualitative website feedback tools are also essential to take the pulse of your website, but surprisingly they are less widely used despite paid services such as Opinion Labs being available for many years and some incredible free tools such as the much lauded 4Q Survey.
January 2016 update to tools
Thanks for your suggestions in the comments - I have included UserSnap and GetResponse as more cost-effective alternatives to existing tools. Other comments of the latest tools you have used and those you recommend/don't recommend are always appreciated to update this post further!
So, this is our recommendation on the different types of online customer feedback tools and web services:
- 1. Website Feedback Tools
- 2. Crowdsourcing product opinion software
- 3. Simple page or concept feedback tools
- 4. Site Exit Survey Tools
- 5. General Online Survey Tools
These tools are based on our review over the last year or so. If there are more feedback tools which you think would be helpful or you have positive opinions on these - please let us know.
1. Voice of Customer Website Feedback Tools and Software
These provide a permanent facility for customers to feedback by prompts on every page.
They are run continuously to enable continuous feedback including ratings on page content, products and services:
- Kampyle A tool popular with bloggers and smaller sites for which it's free (single form and 50 comments). Paid service for higher volumes. Integrates with Google Analytics well for Feedback Analytics.
- UserSnap - a simple feedback tool for visual feedback - thanks for the comment Noah
- OpinionLab Higher-level tool which tends to be used on large-scale, corporate sites.
- CS Site Manager CS stands for customer satisfaction and this is one of the main benefits of this tool - the capability to continuously research customer satisfaction and benchmark against others using the ACSI methodology.
- PollDaddy Enables surveys to be added as widgets, so good for blogs and custom surveys - includes API
- Bugmuncher - a feedback tab for websites that allows users to easily send highlighted screenshots of webpages along with their feedback. Useful immediately post launch or for testing, but can be deployed continuously
- Qualaroo (originally KissInsights from Kissmetrics) Asks specific questions about a site or individual page types - e.g. product pages or checkout - this is an interesting case study of how it's used to set pricing in a software service product.
2. Crowdsourcing feedback tools and Software
These services give ideas on improving a service based on shared opinions of visitors - they are similar to the Dell Ideastorm approach used to gain ideas on improving Dell's products and services.
- Hotjar. We use Hotjar in our members area to get feedback on new features like our benchmarking and toolkits. We use the free version which can be tailored like Qualaroo.
- Uservoice. A different form of feedback tool from the others since it focuses on innovation, for example product and site suggestions. It positions itself as a crowdsourcing tool. The free version allows for simple votes on ideas and sharing ideas within a forum.
- IdeaScale. Offers structured feedback within customer communities also.
- Google Moderator. Google Moderator can be used for a similar purpose and can be embedded within a site or intranet. Here is a simple crowdsourcing example for practical tips.
Some customers will also feedback on the website experience or customer experience offsite in a forum of which GetSatisfaction is the best known. So feedback on relevant third-party sites should also be monitored. Thanks for your suggestions in the comments - have added UseResponse - which seems to be a lower cost version of GetSatisfaction.
3. Simple page or concept feedback tools
Getting direct feedback on the user experience of a site is one of the most effective ways to get insight about the perceptions of site visitors that just isn't available from analytics. These services arrange for a panel of representative people to give direct feedback on a site by recording a voice over of their experiences and views based on their completing a task such as finding a particular type of product on a retail site. Their views are recorded and then can be played back on video.
- WhatUsersDo - Recruit a small panel of testers to complete a task and they feedback through video (UK-based). UserTesting.com is a widely used US-based version.
- Userlytics Target a particular profile of customer to get mystery shopper / focus group type feedback on a web site or prototype
- Five second test a simpler tool where you can Email or Tweet link to get instant feedback on a page
4. Site Exit Survey Tools - Visit Intent vs Satisfaction Tools
These services rate intent (reasons for visiting a site) and against satisfaction. Not everyone is interested in buying a service immediately or ever, so these Voice of the Customer (VoC) surveys give invaluable insight on the gap between desired and actual experiences on a website or in a mobile app.
- 4Q Survey survey from iPerceptions - Free exit survey tool rating intent (reason to visit site) and satisfaction - now part of the paid iPerceptions toolset - but still free to trial. Some companies use this for redesign, others as permanent tracking
- Foreseeresults - A similar service to iPerceptions. Again a US business but used often in UK too.
- eDigitalResearch - A UK-based business with a range of customer benchmarking and research services - these are not off the shelf, but provide a service using other tools and mystery shopping
5. General Online Survey Tools
Of course many companies use generic low-cost or free survey tools to research audience opinions.
The four most popular services we recommend to compare are:
- Survey Monkey - probably the best known online audience survey tool - with a free option
- Polldaddy - less well-known but we like the style of the questions that we use for our online polls and longer surveys on Smart Insights - we pay to subscribe to this.
- Zoomerang - another well known freemium survey tool option
- Survey Gizmo - our final recommendation - another well-established survey service with free and enterprise options
Increasingly, we are seeing tools developed across these categories. For our own audience feedback on Smart Insights we now use Hotjar since this offers a range of survey tools across the categories in this post.