How Do Online Survey Companies Make Money?

Most people have taken part in at least one online survey. You may have answered a few questions about your television consumption or bought a few items through online marketplaces. Nevertheless, you probably did not realize that this seemingly insignificant involvement in a research project would lead to potentially significant financial gain. This article will explore how online survey companies make money and what you can learn from their strategies.

The Growth Of Online Surveys

The concept of leveraging the power of the internet to conduct market research has been around for some time. Way back in 1995, the pioneer of this business model, Joe Pulizzi, founded Survey America.

The company initially operated as a joint venture with America Online (AOL). It was eventually spun off into an independent company in the early 2000s. Today, Survey America is one of the world’s leading survey companies, with offices in the US, UK, and Canada. The company also has a presence in 38 other countries.

AOL, which owns a 39% stake in Survey America, partnered with it on the survey side and provided the financial backing on the commercialization side. This is how online surveys became financially viable. Through a combination of research and marketing, Survey America earns a commission for each survey that is completed. In some cases, this can be quite significant. For example, consider the case of the Netflix Prize. This was a contest to find the best method of predicting customer behavior. The grand prize was $1,000,000 (about $12,600 at today’s prices).

If you want to win the Netflix Prize, you have to take part in a survey. The research team at Survey America used this technique to maximize the potential financial return on their investment. In this case, each survey represents a single opportunity to make money. As part of the Netflix Prize research, the participants were provided with an incentive to take part in the study. This incentive amounted to a payment of about $2.50 for each survey that was completed. This is one reason why businesses have adopted this strategy. It is quite easy to make money online through a combination of product research and marketing, as long as you have an Internet connection and a computer or mobile device.

The Basics Of Online Survey Companies

There are a number of crucial factors that you need to consider before getting involved in any kind of online survey business. First of all, you need to ensure that you are legally capable of doing so. In most countries, you need to be at least 18 years old to legally operate a business. In some cases, you may need to be 21 or 25 depending on the laws of the country.

You should also have the mental capacity to understand and follow simple instructions. It is not easy to operate a research company from a mental standpoint. You need to be able to process information quickly and make critical decisions. Above all else, you need to be sure that you enjoy dealing with people. This is quite challenging, considering that you will be dealing with customers on a regular basis. You can also choose to work remotely, so you do not have to be in close proximity to customers. This is quite common in the industry. As a business owner, you should have a strong sense of ethics. It is not easy to be completely objective when making a profit off others. You should also be aware of the fact that some survey companies engage in unethical practices. For example, some companies may claim that your responses are confidential, when in actuality, they are likely sharing your data with marketing departments at third-party companies.

How Do Online Survey Companies Make Money?

If you want to start an online survey company, it is quite easy to do so. All you need is a good idea, a computer, and an Internet connection. You can also use freelancers to get the ball rolling, if you are short on time. You then need to find a way to make money from this business. There are several options, including showing ads, selling affiliate products, becoming a survey recruiter, and more.

As a survey company, you will get paid for each survey that is completed. This is typically done through a combination of research and marketing. The research team will contact potential respondents and invite them to take part in a survey. Those who agree will then be directed to a landing page where they can provide their details. Sometimes, you will need to get paid twice for a survey. Once you have collected the data and submitted it to the research team, you will be paid for your efforts. The amount of money that you are likely to make will depend on several factors. These factors include but are not limited to the quality and quantity of the research, how fast you are able to collect the data, and what payment methods the respondents prefer. There is usually no fixed contract with online survey companies, so you are not locked into any obligations or agreements. This is quite different from a traditional contract, where you have to follow the terms and conditions of the agreement. Online survey companies do have a fixed duration for which they will pay you. This is usually six or 12 months.

Survey Recruitment

One of the most promising and potentially lucrative revenue streams for online survey companies is survey recruitment. This is where they make their money by showing ads and getting paid for each survey that is completed. Typically, you will be asked to verify your email address and then to respond to an advertisement or a direct message from a research team member. When potential respondents click on a link in the message, they are taken to a landing page where they can provide their details. Similar to research, the more respondents that you can get to take part in the survey, the more you will be able to make. This is why most companies in this space will try to maximize the number of people who click on their adverts. Sometimes, online survey companies will have to pay users to take part in a survey. This can be quite costly, but it is a necessary measure if you want to make sure that you get the respondents who can provide the most value. Think of it like this: if someone clicks on your link or sees your advert and then decides not to participate, you will not get the most out of the investment.

Affiliate Marketing

Another profitable revenue stream for online survey companies is affiliate marketing. This is where they earn revenue by getting paid for each purchase that is made through an affiliate link or banner advertisement. For example, you may be shown an advertisement for a popular brand of shoes. If you click on the link or banner, you will be taken to a sales page, where you can make a purchase. Whenever a purchase is made through an affiliate link or banner, the company will get a small cut, which is known as an affiliate commission. It is quite similar to how traditional affiliate marketers make money. The key difference is that you are not required to make a purchase in order to generate revenue. In most cases, you will not need to have a large audience to make this work. Simply getting a couple of thousand active users to click on affiliate links or banner advertisements can lead to significant earnings. As a digital marketer, you will need to find marketing strategies that work for top-notch online survey companies in order to maximize your profit potential in this area.


In addition to the above, you can also choose to show ads or to sell affiliate products for a profit. In the first case, you will need a steady stream of income in order to make this work. In the second, you will need to have an audience who has a propensity to buy the particular products that you are promoting. These are the two most common ways that online survey companies make money. There are of course other options, such as membership fees, live chat commissions, and more.

The Bottom Line

In a nutshell, there are several ways that online survey companies make money. As a business owner, you need to decide which of these options make the most sense for your situation. Typically, you will need to commit to one single source of revenue, as switching between them can be quite costly. Above all else, you need to be sure that you are benefiting the planet in some way through your business. In some cases, this can be quite significant. For example, take a look at this British company, Survation, which focuses on social and ecological responsibility. Through this focus, they are able to reduce their clients’ carbon footprint. In this case, you will need to ensure that you are buying carbon offsets or zero-waste products, whenever possible.