1. How does an online survey compare to traditional telephone and mail surveys?
2. What is typical response rates for an online survey?
3. Who can complete an online survey?
4. How secure is my survey and my data?
5. Do I need to install a Perl script on my server?
6. Can I do an e-mail survey?
7. What mail systems can I use to send e-mail invitations?
8. How are responses collected?
9. Can results be displayed in real time?
10. After I've done an analysis, can I make the results available online?
11. How many surveys can I create?
12. Can I keep track of who responded and who didn't?
13. I have more general questions about StatPac for Windows.
14, I have questions about running analyses.
 

QUESTION 1 - How does an online survey compare to traditional telephone and mail surveys?

ANSWER - The primary advantages of an online survey over traditional methods is cost and time.

The only cost associated with the administration of an online survey is the time to prepare and analyze the survey. There are no interviewer or postal costs. There are also no data entry costs because the data is captured electronically.

An online survey can be completed in a short time. A typical online survey lasts 4 to 7 days (about the same as telephone interviews). Mail surveys usually last several weeks.

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QUESTION 2 - What is a typical response rate for an online survey?

ANSWER - The response rate for an online survey can be low or high... just like mail surveys. If the potential respondents are motivated, you will receive a high response (we saw an 87% response rate in one survey). We've also seen response rates near 2%.

The degree to which you can motivate potential respondents will determine your response rate. Sending a postcard via the postal service with the url to the survey has consistently produced response rates of less than 5%. Sending e-mail invitations to participate seems to work best. Incentives (a drawing for a prize or access to a free report, etc.) always increases response rate.

Response rates are also highly affected by the length of the survey. Short surveys almost always have higher completion rates than long surveys. On surveys exceeding a couple of pages (with multiple questions per page), we have seen a 2% to 5% dropout rate for each additional page of questions.

The bottom line is that you need to keep your online survey short and you need to do a good sales job in your invitation. That is, you need to sell the potential respondent on why she should complete the survey.

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QUESTION 3 - Who can complete an online survey?

ANSWER - Anyone who has a browser with access to the internet can participate in an online survey. No special software needs to be installed on respondents' computers.

If a potential respondent does not have internet access, they can still respond by mail, e-mail, fax, or personal interview. StatPac has a data manager to allow manual entry of surveys completed by these methods.

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QUESTION 4 - How secure is my survey and my data?

ANSWER - In most cases, nobody will ever know you have a survey posted on your web site unless you tell them it's there, or if you insert a link to it from one of your web pages. If you plan to send e-mail invitations to potential participants, then you probably don't have to worry about people just stumbling across the survey.

StatPac installs a Perl script on your server to process the responses as they come in. This script stores the data in an ASCII file on your server. No data ever leaves your server and no 3rd parties are involved. You have complete and exclusive control of the data you collect.

There are several other security features you can use:

You can also use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to create more secure surveys. SSL will encrypt respondents answers while they are on-route to your server.

You can assign a password to the survey, so respondents will have to log in using that password.

You can assign individual passwords to potential respondents so they will have to log in using their own unique password.

You can use cookies to stop a person from taking a survey more than once (prevents stuffing the ballot box).

You can use a respondent ID to eliminate any duplicates from the same respondent.

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QUESTION 5 - Do I need to install a Perl script on my server?

ANSWER - Yes, StatPac will install and configure the script for you. If you use your own server, it must be capable of running a CGI script (i.e., Perl must be installed on your server). However, if you don't have a web site or don't want to install Perl on your own server, you can use ours. We provide a free web hosting service for all StatPac users. Click here to access our free online survey host.

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QUESTION 6 - Can I do an e-mail survey?

ANSWER - When most people say they want to do an "e-mail survey" they mean that they want to send e-mail invitations to potential respondents with a link in the e-mail that says "Click here to take the survey". When the respondent clicks the link, their browser opens the survey which is posted on your web site. This is the preferred method for conducting an online survey because it gives you the greatest versatility and control.

However, if your survey is short and does not use validity checking or branching, you can send potential respondents an e-mail containing the survey itself. StatPac will create the survey portion of the e-mail for you. Respondent's would receive your e-mail and click their Reply button to answer the survey. While this method works, it is not recommended.

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QUESTION 7 - What mail systems can I use to send e-mail invitations?

ANSWER - While you can use any e-mail program to send invitations, StatPac has it's own built-in e-mail management system that gives you capabilities far beyond most e-mail systems. It works like a mail-merge program and enables you to personalize and serialize e-mail invitations. It sends thousands of individualized e-mails per hours through your SMTP e-mail account.

How can I find out the name of my SMTP host for sending e-mail in StatPac?

If you don't recall your SMTP host name, look at the setup of your e-mail program. In Outlook Express, select Tools>Accounts>Mail>Properties>Servers. In Eudora, select Tools>Options>Hosts. Alternatively, ask your ISP.

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QUESTION 8 - How are responses collected?

ANSWER - StatPac has two different methods of data collection. The first is the file method. When a respondent clicks the submit button (or the continue button on a multiple page survey), their responses are stored in an ASCII text file on your server. No information leaves your server. A response file on your server (with two respondents) might look like this:

StatPac_ID: 207.47.93.2
Respondent_ID: 49264524
Date_Time: Thursday, January 16, 2003 at 17:34:24
Gender: 1
Location: 3
Attitude: 5
Comment: Looks real good!
button: Click Here to Finish

StatPac_ID: 66.137.143.17
Respondent_ID: 64313939
Date_Time: Monday, January 20, 2003 at 10:27:21
Gender: 1
Location: 3
Attitude: 3
Comment: Please get in touch with me.
button: Click Here to Finish

When the survey is completed (or partially completed) the results file can be downloaded to your workstation. During the download, the data is converted to a fixed record length ASCII text file with a carriage return and line feed at the end of each record... which is StatPac's internal data file structure.

The second is the email method. The email method can only be used on one-page surveys. When a respondent clicks the submit button (which is automatically placed at the end of the survey), their answers are sent to you in a specially formatted e-mail. The contents of the incoming e-mails can be electronically captured and added to the data file on your local computer.

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QUESTION 9 - Can results be displayed in real time?

ANSWER - No. StatPac does not perform real-time data analyses. When you want to do an analysis, you must first download the response file from your web site and import it into StatPac. Then you perform the analysis on the data.

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QUESTION 10 - After I've done an analysis, can I make the results available online?

ANSWER - Yes. All StatPac reports are rich text format. This means they can be loaded directly into your word processor (e.g., MS Word) or they can be uploaded to your web site for viewing with any browser.

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QUESTION 11 - How many surveys can I create?

ANSWER - You can create an unlimited number of surveys. The free version is limited to 35 respondents per survey. The registered version will handle an unlimited number of respondents.

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QUESTION 12 - Can I keep track of who responded and who didn't?

ANSWER - Yes, StatPac can assign a unique respondent ID number to each person who receives an e-mail invitation. This ID number is used to track who responded. Reminder e-mails can easily be sent to non-responders.

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