Top 3 Survey Software: Comparison of Qualtrics Research Core, Zoho Survey, and SurveyMonkey

Qualtrics Research Core No. 1 Alternative

What is the best survey software?

The best survey software is Qualtrics Research Core. This online survey tool is loaded with features, affording professionals and enterprises a great degree of flexibility in sourcing feedback. It has sophisticated question types, comprehensive collaboration tools, myriad distribution channels, advanced reporting capabilities, and robust integrations that empower you to conduct more accurate, streamlined and effective surveys from creation to distribution to analysis.

Organizations often face challenges in collecting and consolidating data, getting enough sample size, and all the while working with a limited budget for logistics. But gather feedback they must. Surveys are critical to businesses in myriad ways, from improving your business model and marketing strategies to collecting customer feedback and tracking your brand reception. The use of the right survey software is crucial in streamlining your research processes. 

A good product research strategy is to focus first on the top players in the field, compare their strengths and make these as your benchmark when evaluating more solutions later. On this note, we narrowed down the products to the top 3 choices in the category: Qualtrics Research Core, Zoho Survey and Survey Monkey. 

What are the top 3 survey software solutions?

  1. Qualtrics Research Core – Advanced tool for enterprises’ sophisticated surveys
  2. Zoho Survey – Advanced yet easy-to-use tool for simple surveys
  3. SurveyMonkey – Integrated platform for intermediate questionnaires

The channels where you conduct surveys is also important which is why it should be one of the first things to consider when choosing a platform. Unfortunately, many companies make the mistake of focusing on a single channel and fail to maximize each available distribution channel.

In the survey alone, 59% of brands collect feedback on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Meanwhile, an additional 54% do online surveys and 27% distribute inbound emails. When you combine all these channels,  you can reach a larger, more targeted group of respondents. That said, it’s only the start of the importance of survey solutions. Keeping surveys brief and interesting is crucial for the respondents to remain engaged in answering.

Keeping surveys brief is crucial in engaging respondents. (Source: GatherUp)

Market share of our three survey solutions

Some products made it to the top of their niche because of their robust features. Qualtrics has a 45.61% market share in the experience management category, according to Datanyze. In the customer feedback category, the SurveyMonkey is among the top products. Meanwhile, Zoho Survey is also gaining market share in the customer feedback category.

At the core of these products are its survey software solutions. These tools help you gather crucial feedback and research information to leverage your processes. Take note though that there are more factors to look at when it comes to a robust survey tool beyond its market share. You can find more details about these factors when you read our comprehensive What is survey software? guide.

With that, we looked at the feature set and capability of each product to see which one gives you the most value for your investment. Let’s start with an overview of each product.

survey software

1. Qualtrics Research Core

Qualtrics Research Core is an enterprise market research platform to capture survey data, analyze it, and strategize action plans from it. It pioneered the use of AI in data analysis to predict market trends using its very own predictive intelligence engine called Qualtrics iQ. The vendor has a comprehensive test-drive offer if you want to check the features first. You can easily sign up for a Qualtrics Research Core free trial here.

Despite processing complex surveys, the app is incredibly easy to use. Beginners and experts in survey creation can easily build, test and modify survey templates within minutes using its graphical user interface. The survey library is filled with templates that expedite building surveys. It cuts down the time it takes to prepare a comprehensive survey which is helpful for users who are not familiar with it.

An award given to products our B2B experts find especially valuable for companies
Qualtrics CX won our Expert's Choice Award for 2018

Qualtrics Research is known as a high-end platform with a rich set of features. Some of its advanced features include embedded data, randomization, advanced branching, display logic, triggers, quotas, mobile compatibility, and offline mode. It also has over 100 question types to ensure you can create a survey that suits your specific need.

The single platform can be used for any use case—whether it’s customer satisfaction, product research and development, segmentation and strategy, and marketing and brand research. What used to be a task that’s only available to trained experts is now accessible to anyone in your organization through self-service. This increases productivity and efficiency in your team as each member can independently work on their task.

2. Zoho Survey

Zoho Survey is a simple-to-use online survey builder. It is ideal for users who are looking for a no-fuss tool to use in creating surveys and questionnaires to reach audiences on any device. It is loaded with features such as customizable reports, various question types, shareable surveys, and team collaboration.

Since the software offers a simple and direct online survey solution, its features are more stripped back compared to its higher-end competitors. In turn, it gives you only the essential features you will actually use to eliminate complexities and a long learning curve.

Furthermore, Zoho Survey is affordable to many types of users. In fact, users can start with a completely free plan with no time limit. The package already includes unlimited surveys, up to 10 questions per survey, and 100 responses per survey. Once you need to scale up, you can choose among its affordable plans ranging from $20 to $60 per month. You can sign up for Zoho Survey free trial here to explore its premium features.

2. SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey is one of the most popular online survey tools for market research. Designing a survey is easy because of its comfortable interface that’s clean and familiar. It has built-in tools that can help you solicit input from your employees, end users, and customers.

Individuals and organizations can use the platform with ease. It handles three crucial steps starting with survey creation. Once it’s ready, the system ensures the survey reaches the right people at the right time in various channels. Lastly, it maximizes the potential of your data through extracting and sharing actionable insights from your surveys.

While the app is not as fast in terms of performance or as advanced as other survey platforms, it’s sufficient for businesses that handle basic types of surveys. Some of the features it offers include A/B testing, ranking questions, and multiple question types. The software is powerful enough to build a foundation for your company’s survey data for crucial decision-making processes.

Comparison of Key Functionalities

Qualtrics Research Core, Zoho Survey and SurveyMonkey are the leading survey solutions. But how do they compare in terms of features and functionality? We’ll tackle their most important features below.

Question Types

If you’re looking for a tool that can support your complex survey needs, Qualtrics is the most robust choice. You can ask a question in more than 100 ways under 23 question types—each with a variety of settings for accessing each possibility.

Some of the question types you can choose from including static content, standard questions (such as multiple choice, rank order, and matrix table), specialty questions (NPS, drill down, and constant sum), and advanced (captcha verification, meta info, file upload), among others. Each option gives you an effective method of collecting detailed information from your respondent without requiring much effort on their part. Some question types that are unique to Qualtrics are gap analysis, captcha verification, and meta info.

Meanwhile, SurveyMonkey and Zoho Survey aren’t lagging behind when it comes to the variety of question types offered. Both products offer various question types like NPS, star rating, ranking, single and multiple answers, text fields, slider, and drop down.

Verdict: Qualtrics offers the most robust and flexible question types. Directly manipulating questions and understanding the questionnaire’s and survey’s bigger picture are streamlined.


Qualtrics, SurveyMonkey, and Zoho Survey are excellent when it comes to collaboration. Each has its own set of tools that enable you to work together with your team, department, and even clients. Teams that share projects move faster and eliminate duplicate efforts.

Zoho Survey lets you share your surveys with others and collaborate on reviewing the surveys. Sending members an invite is as easy as adding their email address. You can add a deadline, modify the reviewer list and make colleagues survey co-owners for access to reports and analytics after the survey is published.

SurveyMonkey also lets teams involved from the survey’s first draft up to the final report. Its team plans enable team members to edit and share surveys, maintain a custom team library, and utilize advance permission controls.

Qualtrics has the Collaborate feature that enables users to log in to their accounts and access the surveys without giving out your account information. You can also restrict the type of access for users. Furthermore, Qualtrics has a more elaborate solution on collaborating inside your organization (individual users and groups in your organization), outside your organization (new users) and SSO (Single Sign-On) users. These let you stay on top of shared surveys through collaboration permissions.  

Verdict: Qualtrics, Zoho Survey, and SurveyMonkey are reliable tools for collaborating with your teams on creating and sharing surveys. For more control, Qualtrics offers the most comprehensive collaboration functionality.

Distribution Channels

Distributing your survey is crucial to reach your respondents. The more distribution channels your software has, the wider range of respondents it can reach. The top 3 survey software solutions in this list offer various channels for sending out your surveys.

Zoho Survey makes it easy for your surveys to reach its right audience. Some channels available include web links, custom domain links, custom emails, email campaigns, social media platforms, QR codes, and private group access. It integrates with MailChimp and Zoho Campaigns to leverage your email campaigns.

As for SurveyMonkey, it distributes surveys through its collector types: web link, email invitation, social media, Facebook Messenger, mobile SDK, and manual data entry. You can also purchase survey responses of respondents based on specific criteria for a targeted audience. However, this feature is not available in all countries and comes at an added cost.

If you are looking for more options on sending out surveys, Qualtrics is known to offer a long list of distribution channels compared to other products. For a start, it supports email surveys, SMS surveys, websites, and mobile sites, social media platforms, QR codes, IVR, receipt surveys, and offline surveys.

It also has a survey director which gives you complete control over a survey by generating a single dynamic link. This points respondents—based on criteria such as location and demographic—into a single survey at a specific period.

Verdict: Qualtrics provides the most distribution channels. At the same time, Zoho Survey and SurveyMonkey also support a reliable list of channels to reach your audience.

Reporting and Analytics

Qualtrics Research Core is built for complex research which can be observed through its in-depth reports and analytics. First of all, you can choose two places, each serving a different purpose, where you can build a report under the Reports tab.

The choices are Results and Reports. The former gives a quick view and analysis in a default report that consists of custom visualizations and question-based pages. The latter enables you to control the layout and format the report from scratch.

What sets Qualtrics apart from other choices is its own predictive intelligence engine called Qualtrics iQ. Powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence, Qualtrics Research Core eradicates tedious manual analysis by directly providing statistical and predictive analysis.

Even though Zoho Survey and SurveyMonkey are not as robust as Qualtrics Research Core, the reports they generate are still useful and sufficient for most data-collecting needs. For instance, SurveyMonkey gives real-time reports as soon as a survey is completed. Through team collaboration, you can slice and dice results and extract actionable insights.

Zoho Survey, meanwhile, offers a good variety of reporting capabilities to simplify the visualization of complicated data. It generates real-time, trend, custom, filtered responses, cross-tab and shared reports.

Verdict: Qualtrics offers the most in-depth reports with a focus on flexibility and customizability.


The top 3 survey solutions offer integrations and API access for you to maximize and streamline your business process along with your existing systems. This eliminates redundancy and increases efficiency throughout your organization.

If you’re using Zoho products, Zoho Survey is the most ideal app to use because it automates data transfer between the two systems, especially with Zoho CRM. It also connects with Zoho Campaigns, Zoho SalesIQ, Zoho Sheet, Google Sheets, and MailChimp.

SurveyMonkey provides a long list of app directory to integrate with. It connects with plenty of software systems for running your business. This includes CRM, customer support, analytics and reporting, email, marketing, productivity, and social tools, among others.

Some examples are Marketo, Eloqua, Salesforce, MailChimp, Slack, Zapier, and HubSpot. If the wide array of options are not enough, SurveyMonkey lets you use its API for customizing behavior data, automating data findings, and engaging customer feedback.

Out of the box, Qualtrics doesn’t have as many integration options as the two previous tools. It does offer integration with popular products such as Salesforce, Tableau, Marketo, Slack, and Adobe Analytics. Meanwhile, the Qualtrics API is highly robust for a more custom approach. It lets you automate tasks and transfer data back and forth between Qualtrics and external systems.

Verdict: SurveyMonkey has the most third-party app integration. Zoho Survey is best for users already using Zoho Products. Meanwhile, Qualtrics Research Core has enough integrations with popular products and its own Qualtrics API for customization.


There is a clear distinction in pricing for the three products. SurveyMonkey and Zoho Survey is a tie when it comes to their pricing tiers. In fact, you can create an account on the two products for free using their basic plan. However, it only includes the basic features of creating and sharing surveys. To get more advanced features, upgrading to premium plans is necessary. 

For teams, the starting plan of SurveyMonkey is at $25/month billed annually. Meanwhile, individuals can choose from plans that cost $37, $32 and $99 per month depending on the advanced features they need.

Zoho Survey offers the most affordable starting plan at $20/month which includes unlimited surveys, questions, and responses. Its recommended plan costs $25/month which unlocks white label and multilingual surveys, email notifications, piping logic, and Zoho CRM and Google Sheets integration.

The cost of Qualtrics Research Core is at the higher end. However, it packs more advanced features and supports more complex processes in its platform. The pricing is only available on a quote request to allow their experts to ensure the system includes the essential features you need.

While Qualtrics Research Core is more expensive at a glance, it offers a better overall value in your investment due to its full-featured platform. SurveyMonkey and Zoho Survey may be more affordable as their plans start low, yet it’s worth noting that many of the advanced features are only available for higher-tiered plans which means you’ll have to pay added costs to upgrade. Hence, the overall cost may be more or less equal to Qualtrics in total for a similar set of features.

Verdict: Zoho Survey and SurveyMonkey offer scalable prices for individuals, startups and small businesses. Meanwhile, Qualtrics Research Core is more expensive as a high-end survey tool with advanced features.

How to Choose a Survey Software Tool

Regardless of the numerous products available, the only way to decide which one is the best survey software solution is if it suits your business. Check these five quick tips:

  1. Identify how sophisticated you want your surveys to be
  2. Consider the complexity of your data
  3. Don’t forget the level of security you want
  4. Take note of the roster of integrations you need
  5. Know what audience you want to capture data from which channel, method, and frequency

We also recommend you to sign up for free trials and free demos of your shortlisted products. This will give you a firsthand experience of its features and functionalities without spending any amount. Explore the software and determine if it matches your workflows and business structure.


The top 3 survey software solutions are leading in their category because of their robust features and offerings. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, hence, a comprehensive business evaluation is crucial to identify the processes you want to streamline and the issues you want to solve when it comes to conducting surveys.

For users who only do basic surveys, Zoho Survey and SurveyMonkey are both good choices. Zoho Survey offers the most affordable package for users. It is also ideal for users who are already using Zoho products for more direct integration.

Meanwhile, SurveyMonkey is another simple online survey tool for gathering surveys from small to large groups of audiences. It has scalable plans for individuals and teams to explore. It also integrates with popular third-party applications to streamline connecting systems.

For in-depth and complex surveys, Qualtrics Research Core offers the best value for your investment as it has a richer feature set with more variety of question types, skip and branching logic, and reporting options. Despite its advanced features, it’s also more intuitive and easy to use. It also offers better time-saving solutions in setting up surveys, especially for longer ones. The best way to find out its rich feature set is to sign up for a Qualtrics Research Core free trial here.

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