Online Surveys 101

Commonly Asked Questions about Taking Online Surveys

Female thinking

What are online surveys?

Companies need to understand consumers, and to do this they hire market research companies to survey their target audience. By registering online with these market research companies (via their online survey panels) and providing your demographic information, you will become eligible to voice your opinion in surveys that shape company decisions.

How do I participate in online surveys?

Once you register with a survey provider, your information is placed into a database. When a study matches your profile, you will be sent an invitation by e-mail or mobile notification to participate in the survey. The invitation will state the approximate length of the survey, the topic and the incentive (cash, prizes, points, etc.). The survey will be conducted online and once completed, you will either be able to collect your reward immediately, or you’ll have a credit in your survey panel account.

What’s the difference between free surveys and pay to join surveys?

Free Surveys are just that – they are free. This means that registration is free, and participation is free too.

Pay to Join Surveys are a different. You pay a fee to access a list of survey companies, which you can then join the same way you would free survey sites. We don’t recommend that you take part in these programs. SurveyPolice has a list of over 250 survey panels – a list that is often bigger than what the pay to join sites offer!

There are no ‘survey secrets’. Join survey sites that are rated well by their survey takers, answer their surveys, and collect your rewards. That’s all there is to it.

How will I be contacted to receive survey invitations?

When you register with survey sites, you will be asked to provide an e-mail address. This address will then be used to e-mail you survey invitations. Simply follow the instructions in the e-mail, and the survey will be conducted online, via your web browser. Rarely is there anything to download.

Some surveys are conducted via a mobile app or a mobile survey. For these, you either need to download a special app on your phone where you’ll receive survey invitations, or provide your mobile number to receive short surveys directly to your phone.

When you join a survey site, they will state how they conduct their surveys.

How will I be paid after I participate?

Typically, you will earn collect points that will accumulate in your survey panel account. When ready, you’ll be able to redeem your points for typically a few options: a PayPal payment, a gift card, merchandise, etc. When you join a survey panel, make sure the rewards that they offer are ones you’re interested in collected – every panel is a little bit different.

How often will I get survey invitations?

This depends on a variety of factors. Of course, the more market research companies you register with, the better chance you have of being invited to participate in studies. Also, if you fit a demographic that companies are particularly interested in, you will likely receive more survey invites than somebody else.

When I’m e-mailed a survey invitation, do I have to participate?

No. If you do not feel like participating in a particular study, that’s okay.

Is there any cost to join?

There is no cost to participate in surveys. The only time there is ever a cost involved to participate in online surveys is when you register with a Pay to Join survey company service – which we don’t recommend doing. Legitimate market research panels themselves are always free to join.

Who can register?

As you navigate our website and click on a survey provider, you will be provided with information which will show whether a chosen survey panel is available in your area. As long as you’ve reached the age of majority (typically 18) in your country, you shouldn’t have a problem joining most companies. Note that even teens can join certain survey panels.

What do I get for participating?

Incentives range from a stated amount of cash, to merchandise, to chances to win big prizes, to points redeemable for cash or merchandise. Incentives (or rewards) for surveys are stated in the e-mail invitation you will receive, inviting you to participate in the survey. Keep in mind that when you are offered a chance to win a large sum of money, your chances are of winning can be reasonably decent (when compared to something like the lottery). You are often only competing against a few hundred other participants.

What do market research companies do with my data?

They report their findings to the client who has hired them to conduct the study. They won’t pass on your personal information, and the data is provided in a form of a report, with findings for the entire group, not just simply one individual. Legitimate market research providers have a privacy policy statements on their website, assuring participants that their privacy is protected during studies.

Can I get rich taking online surveys?

It’s highly unlikely. Any website that says you will, is telling you what you want to hear! Even if you sign up with every single market research company in existence, you’ll get sick of survey taking pretty quickly and you’re likely to burn out. Think of online survey taking like an easy and fun way to supplement your existing income. Who else would pay you $5 for less than 15 minutes of your time, to answer a bunch of questions about, say, candy?

Ready to start taking surveys?

If most of your questions about taking online surveys have been answered, you might be ready to start taking actual paid surveys.