Anonymous survey 101: 7 Tips to create anonymous surveys online | QuestionPro (2023)

Anonymous survey 101: 7 Tips to create anonymous surveys online | QuestionPro (1)

When you want to recruit potential survey participants, it’s critical to build a survey that makes them feel comfortable and confident while giving open, honest feedback. This strategy should include an anonymous survey.

When you let people know that you are conducting an anonymous survey online, they know their identity will remain confidential. They will be more comfortable to respond from the comfort of their home. It is especially relevant when you need to collect feedback from employees or customers regarding sensitive information, such as misconduct, safety procedures, and personnel changes. That said, offering anonymity is generally a solid best practice for any survey plan.

In this article, we’ll discuss what an anonymous survey is, briefly explain why it’s useful, why you might not want to use the anonymity feature, describe anonymous survey examples, and provide advice to keep your questionnaire anonymous. Follow our survey tips and gather unbiased results and actionable feedback.

What is an anonymous survey?

An anonymous survey is a series of questions given to participants so that you and other parties cannot identify who submits which responses. Identifying information includes names, birthdates, location, and other data points that can easily link you to individual survey respondents.

When conducting an anonymous online survey, you need to be aware of additional identifying factors, such as IP address or contact information for follow-up studies. Make sure those items are not traceable to ensure your results are unbiased and your participants remain genuinely anonymous.

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Why should a survey be anonymous?

You should create an anonymous survey whenever you have the option. It will give you better results in the following ways:

(Video) SurveyMonkey: Create and publish online surveys in minutes | Complete Tutorial for Beginners

  • You and your strategy team can analyze responseswithout biasthat you would otherwise have toward known participants.
  • Respondents will likely feel more comfortable sharing theirhonest opinions.
  • Employees or repeat customers can participatewithout fear of retaliationfrom management or executive leadership in your organization.

There may be some instances when an anonymous questionnaire is not ultimately helpful. These include the following scenarios:

  • When youhave a follow-up surveyto explore an issue more thoroughly or collect feedback about changes you’ve made since conducting the first survey.
  • When you are doing an investigation that mightinvolve legal actionand need to follow up with individuals.

If following up with specific participants regarding their feedback is essential to your research, consider designating one party to keep respondents’ identities confidential and unknown to all others involved in conducting the survey. An HR lead or an outside firm could be the right choice for this role. Most likely, an anonymous questionnaire is the best option for your situation. The next section covers a few anonymous survey examples to help you build your plan.

Anonymous survey examples

To show you how universally beneficial conducting an anonymous survey is, we describe three very different examples below. You can apply many of the same principles to your strategy, regardless of industry or research discipline.

Anonymous survey example 1: Customer satisfaction

In this example, an independent drugstore wants to serve its community better. They decide a survey will help them accomplish three things:

1) Gauge overall customer satisfaction

2) Improve customer experience

3) Curate their inventory

(Video) How to use Microsoft Forms

Consider the inventory items a store like this might carry. These include highly personal details, such as medications, period products, and household cleaners. Local shoppers are thrilled to participate and help the shopkeepers optimize their store, but they are understandably concerned about confidentiality.

To keep the results anonymous while making it possible to follow up with locals, the store creates an anonymous online survey that they share via their newsletter. They turn off all conversion trackers that would indicate which newsletter subscribers opened or completed the questionnaire. Once this initial anonymous feedback survey is complete, they build and follow an action plan. To gather responses to their intended improvements, the store sends a follow-up survey to the same mailing list.

Anonymous survey example 2: Employee workplace culture

In the next case, approximately 100 employees start to see anonymous reports of bullying between colleagues on public online forums. No one is mentioned by name, so the HR department does not know who to contact with follow-up questions. Their strategy to stop workplace bullying starts with creating an anonymous online survey to get a holistic view of how employees perceive the current company culture. They ask employees questions that measure how safe they feel, how aware they are of proper reporting procedures, and whether they or someone they know has experienced bullying at this company. Finally, they ask respondents to name anyone they know has been exhibiting bullying behavior.

Because these questions could lead to retaliation from the person or people who are bullying others, this survey must remain anonymous. It allows employees to hold peers and higher-ranking individuals accountable without risking their jobs or their security.

Once the first company culture survey results are collected and reviewed, HR can create an action plan that involves a more focused but certainly cautious investigation based on the trends in their feedback. They decide not to ask respondents to identify themselves to uphold their employees’ safety and trust as much as possible. However, HR did have to confront the alleged bully with specific instances.

Anonymous survey example 3: Sociology course project

In our final example, a college student conducts a small study about spending habits and socio-economic backgrounds, using their classmates as survey participants. This survey inherently includes identifying information, such as spending habits and favorite brands, in addition to generally confidential information, including parents’ income levels, respondents’ income levels, and cultural perspectives about finances.

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The student conducting this study does not want what she knows about her peers to influence the results. With this in mind, she creates an anonymous survey and carefully selects survey question types to allow for some anonymity. She does this by including multiple-choice and constant sum questions and others with predetermined answer ranges. The student shares this survey via email with classmates and other students at her university. She also shares it with their contacts.

By opening up the survey to students outside her university and people in each student’s social circles, the survey creator makes it harder to identify respondents based on their answers. She wants to ensure that her feedback sources are kept anonymous, so the student opts for a Respondent Anonymity Assurance-enabled survey (RAA). It allows her to follow up with participants without revealing their identity.

We’ll talk about RAA in the next section.

7 Tips for creating anonymous surveys

Now that you’ve seen some examples of anonymous surveys in action, it’s time to create an anonymous survey yourself. Follow these tips to keep your questionnaire anonymous and engaging:

  1. Communicate your intentions

Let participants know what your anonymous survey entails before they get started. Communicate what information you will and won’t collect, who will be assessing the feedback, and how you intend to follow up (if at all). Let them know any extra steps you are taking to ensure their answers are anonymous and outline what you plan to do with their responses after the survey. For example, will you be quoting them anonymously in a report? That’s something they need to know if someone they know might read that report and identify them. Preliminary communication will instill confidence and set expectations for a more successful survey experience for all parties involved.

  1. Use the right platform

Not all survey platforms offerRespondent Anonymity Assurance (RAA), one of the only ways to be sure that your survey is truly anonymous. QuestionPro is the only online survey provider that can enable RAA for all questions. It is extremely important for your research quality because once activated, the protections RAA-enabled surveys provide cannot be rescinded. That means participants, contacts, and even the survey creator cannot request access to identifying information after the fact. It protects anonymous survey respondents and the integrity of your data.

  1. Disable custom variables or data collection

Many surveys have a feature that allows you to store participants’ personal data. We’re not talking about highly confidential data like credit card numbers or their mother’s middle name. It is the information that most people share when they subscribe to an online newsletter or register for a promotional discount: name, email address, phone number, or mailing address. When creating a survey, we often don’t even consider how these custom variables are collected and saved for future use. Be aware of them and use a survey platform like QuestionPro that lets you skip collecting it when needed.

  1. Write questions carefully

You might think your questions can’t be linked to any individual respondent, but that depends on the possible answers. As we mentioned earlier, watch for questions that reveal specific information about individuals, their family members, or experiences that may be unique to them or someone with their background.

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It doesn’t mean you can’t ask demographic questions. Just word them very carefully and consider possible answers as you go. If you need to ask these questions, consider using a randomly selected sample of participants or broaden your sample to people outside your community (as the student attempted to do in example 3).

  1. Write the survey holistically

While one question might not identify individual respondents on its own, a combination of them could. If you must ask relatively personal questions because of the nature of your anonymous survey, limit these as much as possible. The wrong combination of questions is like a puzzle that researchers (or data thieves) can solve with some sleuthing. Again, you can include some of these questions and still maintain anonymity, but avoid creating a survey that enables you to identify participants when you review all questions.

  1. Understand your demographic

Selecting participants for an anonymous online survey can go a couple of ways. If you are surveying a particular group of people, you can write your questions more mindfully when you know about recipients as a demographic. It might sound counter-intuitive, but when you know some statistics about this group, you can determine which questions might reveal respondents’ identity.

For example, say you’re conducting an employee engagement survey, and you already know that only 20 percent of the employees are women. Asking your participants to indicate their gender will make it easy to narrow down the origins of other responses, as will questions that tend to gather feedback related to commonly shared gendered experiences. It might seem like a simple, general question, but that depends on who participates in your survey.

  1. Survey a large sample

Surveying as many people as possible with a broad range of identifying variables can help you keep your questionnaire anonymous. Some research needs to have limitations, such as current customer engagement or employee satisfaction. When possible, think about the largest group of people you can include in your survey and anticipate relevant results. Collect the feedback via an anonymous online survey following the best practices mentioned above, and your survey could reach relevant participants across several regions and demographics.

Create a survey of your own

Now that you know why and how to create an anonymous survey, it’s time to build your own. Leverage the best practices listed above and consider QuestionPro, your go-to resource for research you can trust. We offer RAA-enabled anonymous surveys you can share with a single link andresearch servicesthat help you process feedback professionally and confidentially.


(Video) Google Forms Tutorial


How do I create an anonymous survey online? ›

Making surveys anonymous
  1. Do not include any questions that ask the respondent for identifying details.
  2. Make sure that respondents can opt-out of receiving your survey invitations.
  3. Be transparent about why you are collecting the data and how it will be used.

What are the 7 steps in creating online survey form? ›

  • 7 Steps to Create a Community Feedback Survey. Set your objectives. ...
  • Set Your Objectives. ...
  • Write Your Survey Questions. ...
  • Test, Test, Test! ...
  • Send It To Members. ...
  • Collect Responses. ...
  • Analyze the Responses. ...
  • Act on the Results.
Oct 8, 2014

How can I make money from an anonymous survey? ›

Email Invitations
  1. Go to the Collect Responses section of your survey.
  2. Click the name of the collector.
  3. Go to the collector options. ...
  4. Click Anonymous Responses.
  5. Choose to exclude all respondent information to exclude first name, last name, email address, IP address, and custom data from your results.

Can an anonymous survey be traced? ›

Responses to anonymous surveys cannot be traced back to the respondent. No personally identifiable information is captured unless you voluntarily offer personal or contact information in any of the comment fields.

How do I create a survey confidential form? ›

Yes. Just click the three dots at the top right corner to open the Form Settings; then uncheck the box labeled Record name. This will make the form anonymous.

What are the 7 types of surveys? ›

The Most Common Types of Surveys
  • Online Surveys. Online surveys are one of the most popular types of surveys and for good reason. ...
  • Paper Surveys. ...
  • Mail Surveys. ...
  • Telephone Surveys. ...
  • In-Person Surveys. ...
  • Panel Surveys. ...
  • Focus Group Surveys.
Apr 27, 2022

How do I create a simple survey online? ›

Create a survey
  1. Click + NEW SURVEY.
  2. In step 1 (Write questions), select the appropriate question type(s) and write your question(s). ...
  3. In step 2 (Pick audience), name your survey and select your target audience. ...
  4. In step 3 (Confirm survey), review your survey questions and purchase responses.

Do paid surveys sell your information? ›

If you sign up to receive a third-party survey notification about available surveys online, know that many of these free services turn around and sell your personal information to spammers.

Do surveys pay cash? ›

There are a number of ways you can get paid from taking surveys. Many offer cash or vouchers and some will provide free products. You'll typically have to build up a certain number of reward points before they can be cashed out.

Can u actually get money from surveys? ›

Online paid surveys are a legitimate business, as many different companies utilize them to conduct market research. However, amidst the many reputable online paid surveys, there are other survey sites that are actually sites created by scammers or cybercriminals.

How can I be digitally anonymous? ›

How To Remain Anonymous on the Internet
  1. Use an encrypted messaging app. ...
  2. Use an encrypted browser. ...
  3. Use a VPN. ...
  4. Use secure email services. ...
  5. Use a temporary email. ...
  6. Use encrypted storage. ...
  7. Don't post PII. ...
  8. Check app permissions.
Jan 20, 2023

Is Google Form free? ›

Google Forms is now a full-featured forms tool that comes free with your Google account. You can add standard question types, drag and drop questions into the order you want, customize the form with simple photos or color themes, and gather responses in Forms or save them to a Google Sheets spreadsheet.

Do surveys track your IP address? ›

A survey using an anonymous link will not collect a respondent's name or email address, but will collect IP address and location information.

Do anonymous surveys get more responses? ›

Response rates for anonymous surveys are usually better than for non-confidential surveys. This is because people are more likely to trust the stated intentions of an anonymous survey.

Do you need consent for an anonymous survey? ›

Research involving no more than minimal risk of harm to human participants still requires the participants' consent, but may not require that participants sign a written consent form. Anonymous surveys and interviews that present minimal risk, for example, may not require written consent.

What is the difference between confidential and anonymous survey? ›

Anonymity refers to a situation where the identity of the respondent isn't known by anyone doing the survey. Confidentiality refers to a situation where the identity of the respondent is known by the system administering the survey, but great steps are taken to protect that identity from being revealed to anyone.

Do you need a consent form for online surveys? ›

Participant information and consent

Before participating in a project, participants should always be provided with a participant information sheet that they can keep and provided with an opportunity to ask questions about the project should they wish. You must obtain their consent to participate.

Can you create an anonymous survey on SurveyMonkey? ›

SurveyMonkey provides the tools for creators to configure their surveys how they want. This includes allowing them to collect strictly anonymous responses, or to choose to identify their respondents.

What are the 3 C's of survey? ›

Namely, 3 C's stand for corporation, customer and competitors that are known as elements of strategic triangle.

What are 2 main types of survey? ›

Surveys can be divided into two broad categories: the questionnaire and the interview. Questionnaires are usually paper-and-pencil instruments that the respondent completes. Interviews are completed by the interviewer based on the respondent says.

What is the best survey method? ›

Online Surveys

Online surveys are one of the most effective surveying methods. They can be used by anyone for just about anything, and are easily customized for a particular audience.

What are the 5 steps creating online survey? ›

  • Step One: Determine Your Sample Group. ‍When conducting a general survey, it is important to survey a group of individuals that will give you the most accurate, unbiased results. ...
  • Step Two: Create Your Questions. ...
  • Step Three: Test. ...
  • Step Four: Get it Out. ...
  • Step Five: Analyze Your Data.

What are the 10 steps in creating online survey? ›

10 Tips For Creating An Effective Online Survey
  1. A short survey is better than a long one. ...
  2. Questions must be easy to understand and answer. ...
  3. Group questions according to topic. ...
  4. Place sensitive questions at the end. ...
  5. Avoid irrelevant questions. ...
  6. Reassure your respondents that their data is secure. ...
  7. Spend time on your design.

What are the 8 steps in creating online survey? ›

8 Steps to Designing an Ideal Survey
  1. Set your goals.
  2. Narrow down on your target population.
  3. Structure the survey.
  4. Select the mode of your survey.
  5. Choose the right question type.
  6. Formulate the questions.
  7. Introduce the survey.
  8. Take the field.
Mar 20, 2015

What is the best website to make a survey? ›

Best Free Online Survey Tools
  • SurveyPlanet.
  • Google Forms.
  • Alchemer.
  • SurveyLegend.
  • Zoho Survey.
  • Crowdsignal.
  • Survs.
  • FreeOnlineSurveys.
Oct 31, 2022

Where can I create a survey for free? ›

The 8 best free online survey tools
  1. Google Forms.
  2. SurveyMonkey.
  3. Typeform.
  4. Jotform.
  5. SoGoSurvey.
  6. SurveyPlanet.
  7. Zoho Survey.
  8. Crowdsignal.
Apr 29, 2022

What is the difference between a questionnaire and a survey? ›

A questionnaire is the term used to describe the set of questions you're asking an individual. A survey is the process of collecting, analysing and interpreting data from many individuals. It aims to determine insights about a group of people.

Who pays the most for taking surveys? ›

Here are the highest-paying sites to get paid to take surveys in your spare time:
  • 🏆 Branded Surveys.
  • Swagbucks.
  • Survey Junkie.
  • LifePoints.
  • Inboxdollars.
  • MyPoints.
  • Ipsos i-Say Panel.
  • Toluna.
Jan 31, 2023

Why do they pay you for surveys? ›

Consumer feedback helps companies make more money by tweaking products and advertisements before they release them publicly. That's why companies will pay you for your time when you take a survey. The information you give them is crucial to their success.

How can a beginner make money online? ›

What's the easiest way for beginners to make money online?
  1. Get involved in market research.
  2. Become an online tutor.
  3. Sell your clothes and other belongings.
  4. Become an affiliate for your favorite brands.
  5. Start a dropshipping online business.
  6. Transcribe recordings.
  7. Rent out your stuff.
Nov 28, 2022

How long does it take to get paid from online surveys? ›

Sometimes the surveys can take as long as 15 or 20 minutes. Don't expect to get paid quickly. It can sometimes take days or weeks before you earn enough points or money to cash out. Don't invest significant time on survey sites.

How much can you make from surveys in a month? ›

According to Swagbucks, most members are able to make at least $1 to $5 each day (or at least $365 or up to $1,825 a year). However, you may be able to earn even more if you're willing to invest the time. "Per month, you can reasonably earn an extra $50 to $250.

What is the fastest way to make money taking surveys? ›

Survey sites that pay cash
  1. OneOpinion. Average earnings: $2.03 per hour. ...
  2. Survey Junkie. Average earnings: $1.57 per hour. ...
  3. Opinion Outpost. Average earnings: $1.50 per hour. ...
  4. Ipsos iSay. Average earnings: $1.01 per hour. ...
  5. MyPoints. Average earnings: $1.01 per hour. ...
  6. Swagbucks. Average earnings: $0.89 per hour. ...
  7. Toluna. ...
  8. InboxDollars.
Jan 3, 2023

How can I make quick cash? ›

20 Ways to Make Quick Cash
  1. Sell unwanted items.
  2. Sell gift cards.
  3. Sell concert tickets.
  4. Ask for a raise.
  5. Borrow money.
  6. Reduce expenses.
  7. Take a survey.
  8. Get a side gig.

Can anonymous Google Forms be tracked? ›

With an anonymous survey, there's no way to track a response back to the participant, so it's important to first determine whether this is the type of survey you need.

How do I make a Google Form for everyone without permission? ›

Important: If you turn off this restriction setting, anyone with the link can fill out your form.
  1. Open a form in Google Forms.
  2. At the top of the form, click Settings.
  3. Next to “Responses,” click the Down arrow .
  4. Turn off Restrict to users in [] and its trusted organizations.

Can I see who responded to my Google Form? ›

View responses

See answers by person or, if you allowed people to submit the form more than once, by submission. Open a form in Google Forms. At the top of the form, click Responses. Click Individual.

How can I hide my personal information online? ›

Removing your personal information from the internet
  1. Delete your social media accounts. ...
  2. Close or delete any blogs or personal sites. ...
  3. Remove all unnecessary apps from your phone or tablet. ...
  4. Use a do-not-track feature. ...
  5. Sweep out your computer data. ...
  6. Remove outdated search results.

How do I make myself anonymous on Google? ›

Open an Incognito Browser Window

You can do this in various browsers by following these steps: Google Chrome: Press the three-dots menu icon > Open Incognito Tab. Microsoft Edge: Press the three-dots menu icon > New InPrivate Window. Firefox: Press the upper-right menu icon > New Private Window.

Which browser is untraceable? ›

Tor. The Tor Browser uses an anonymous network of computers to connect to the Internet. Your connection is forwarded from one computer to the next, with each step only knowing the previous one. On the plus side, this method results in a highly private connection.

What is the difference between Google surveys and Google Forms? ›

Google Surveys can help organizations understand their data by converting it into simple charts and graphs. Unlike Google Forms, which is free to use, Google Surveys charges fees based on the number of completed responses to your survey.

Do you have to pay for Google surveys? ›

Google Forms is totally free to use. As long as you have a Google account, you can access Google Forms in its entirety—completely free. SurveyMonkey does have a free Basic plan, but it's pretty limited, especially compared to everything you get at no cost with Google Forms: Pictures and backgrounds.

What can I use instead of Google Forms free? ›

Let's look at the best Google Forms alternatives.
  • WPForms. WPForms is the most beginner-friendly WordPress form plugin and the best Google Forms alternative. ...
  • Formidable Forms. Formidable Forms is the next Google Forms alternative on our list. ...
  • HubSpot Form Builder. ...
  • Typeform. ...
  • Zoho Forms. ...
  • Wufoo. ...
  • JotForm. ...
  • Bonus: Microsoft Forms.
Jan 5, 2023

Can SurveyMonkey do anonymous surveys? ›

SurveyMonkey provides the tools for creators to configure their surveys how they want. This includes allowing them to collect strictly anonymous responses, or to choose to identify their respondents.

How do I send a survey to random people? ›

Distribute a Survey: Table of Contents
  1. Random Device Engagement.
  2. Share your survey on social media.
  3. Share your survey on your website or blog.
  4. Hire a Market Research Agency.
  5. Send Surveys Via Email.
Apr 7, 2022

Can you tell who responded to SurveyMonkey? ›

Before you send your survey, decide if you want to track who's taken your survey or if you want to keep responses anonymous. You need to set up your survey to track respondents before you send it out. It's not possible to start tracking responses after the survey is sent.

Are Google form surveys anonymous? ›

Google Forms can be anonymous, but the form maker must enable that feature through the form's settings. If your name or email address aren't asterisked questions that require a response, your Google Form responses are anonymous.

What are the risks associated with online surveys? ›

Online Survey Disadvantages

Poorly chosen distribution channels can lead to biased data, low response rates and a host of other potential issues. Repeated requests to complete the survey can be perceived by participants as annoying, and can therefore backfire against a business.

What are the risks with online surveys? ›

Disadvantages of Online Surveys
  • Inability to Connect With People From Remote Areas. ...
  • High Chances of Survey Fraud. ...
  • Sampling Issues. ...
  • Response Bias. ...
  • Survey Fatigue. ...
  • Increase in Errors. ...
  • A Large Number of Unanswered Questions. ...
  • Difficult to Interpret the Sentiments Behind the Answers.
Oct 27, 2021

What should you not ask in a survey? ›

5 common survey question mistakes that'll ruin your data
  • Don't write leading questions. ...
  • Avoid loaded questions. ...
  • Stay away from double-barreled questions. ...
  • Absolutely do not use absolutes in questions. ...
  • Be clear by speaking your respondent's language.

How do you get people to fill out surveys? ›

4 Effective Methods to Increase Your Survey Response Rates
  1. The Main Message: Make Them Feel Special.
  2. Eye on the Prize: Provide Incentives.
  3. Don't Waste Their Time: Keep Surveys Relevant.
  4. Be Top-of-Mind: Offer Surveys in Multiple Channels.
  5. The Bottom Line: The More Accurate Responses, the Better.
Jan 7, 2017

Where can I find people for surveys? ›

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter all have different and unique audiences that are capable of providing you with data points for your survey.
  • Facebook and Twitter are strong options for B2C market research. ...
  • LinkedIn is a strong option for B2B market research where you may need to target specific industries or profiles.
Mar 31, 2021

What is the biggest problem with web surveys? ›

Online surveys rely on self-selection, which can result in sampling bias if particular groups of people are either overrepresented or underrepresented in the sample.

Does Google have a free survey tool? ›

Google Forms is totally free to use. As long as you have a Google account, you can access Google Forms in its entirety—completely free. SurveyMonkey does have a free Basic plan, but it's pretty limited, especially compared to everything you get at no cost with Google Forms: Pictures and backgrounds.


1. Survey Questions 101: Examples and Tips
2. 7 tips for good survey questions
(Elon University Poll)
3. How to use Google Forms - Tutorial for Beginners
4. PSYC 219: Chapter 7: Survey Methods
(Alex Daniel)
5. Using Mid Course Surveys to Improve an Online Course
(Rob Power)
(Binge Central)
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