A very important part to making money, whether it be online or offline, is to understand your audience (or customers, as the case may be). You have to find out how to best satisfy their needs and wants, and one of the best ways to do this is by using a survey.
There a lot of free survey sites out there for you to try, so why would you want to plunk down your hard-earned money on a system like iSalient? Well, they ordered up a ReviewMe not only to gain some exposure — John’s blog now has over 5000 RSS subscribers — but also some valuable feedback on how to improve their hosted survey solution. I hope that I can provide them with both.
A Complete Online Survey Solution
The iSalient survey software is a complete package. You have the ability to manipulate the question-asking to your liking, customizing the look and feel of the survey page, and then getting the full results through a number of easy-to-read graphs and charts. There’s no need to spend any of your own bandwidth hosting the survey, because iSalient takes care of that too. The one thing that I really appreciate about the surveys created is that there is no paid advertising on the page, regardless of whether you’re still on the 30-day free trial or you’ve converted into an actual purchase.
The main dashboard is easy-to-use, granting you instant access to the different surveys you’ve created as well as all the major stats and results at a glance. Setting up the individual surveys is a simple step-by-step process as well, allowing you to choose the number of pages, types of questions, title, CSS theme (paid version), and so on.
There are nearly twenty different question types, including multiple choice (checkboxes), one answer drop down, choice radio buttons, file upload, free form HTML, and graphical sliders. I found the physical design of the blog to be a little boring, though, because I could only choose the plain grey template. I’m assuming that when you opt for the paid version of iSalient that you gain access to different templates. I do find it strange that they offer free question templates and survey styles to non-members though.
Paid vs. Free Trial
Although the official site says that you only get a 30-day free trial, when I went to sign up, it says that I could have the trial for an unlimited length of time. This might be a short-term promotion, but I can’t say for sure. In any case, the critical difference between the free trial and the paid version of iSalient lies in the number of responses you can handle. I couldn’t find how many the free trial could take and it took some exploring to find the pricing list, but here it is:
They don’t explicitly state it, but you’ve got to assume that there’s more customization available with the paid version as well, in addition to the larger number of responses you can now take.
A Tough Cookie to Crack
The online survey business is incredibly competitive, because everyone wants to know what their customers want. Knowledge is power and it is with this power that you can grow your business.
On the plus side, iSalient has done a great job with the reporting side of things. The (animated) pie charts are easy on the eyes and borrow much of their styling cues from the hugely popular Google Analytics package, except under a survey context. Deploying the surveys is easy as they will easily provide you the code you need to display a link on your website, create a pop-up survey, or make a text link for use in emails. I also liked how it could randomize the order of the answers in your survey questions, ensuring that the order did not pre-dispose people to certain responses. The tiered pricing plan is a great idea too, so that they can fairly charge customers according to volume.
On the downside, the resulting surveys are pretty bland-looking, but that can probably be fixed with a paid account and some spiffy CSS style sheets. I also would have liked to see more straight-forward navigation to the pricing page. I actually had to sign up for a free trial before I could find anything about pricing. It would also be nice if more style sheets were available for the trial.
If you want to see what a sample survey looks like, I made a dummy one that you find here: Why Do You Read John Chow dot Com?