Online survey tools are fantastic for effectively and efficiently collecting and analyzing data. A well-put-together online survey provides you with actionable, clear information for your business decisions. Spending the necessary time upfront and building a great online survey will help you achieve higher response rates, and higher quality data and will be much easier for your respondents to complete.
Here are 10 steps to help you create effective surveys, increase the response rate of your surveys, and improve the overall quality of the data you gather.
- Clearly define the purpose of your survey – Good surveys have focused objectives that are easily understood. Spend the time upfront to identify your objectives. Advance planning helps ensure that the survey asks the right questions to meet the objective and generate useful data.
- Keep the survey short and focused – Short and focused helps with both quality and quantity of responses. It is generally better to focus on a single objective than to try to create a master survey that covers multiple objectives. Research (along with Gallop and others) has shown that a survey should take 5 minutes or less to complete. 6 – 10 minutes is acceptable but we see significant abandonment rates occurring after 11 minutes.
- Keep the questions simple – Make sure your questions get to the point and avoid the use of jargon, slang, or acronyms.
- Use closed-ended questions whenever possible – Closed-ended survey questions give respondents specific choices (e.g. Yes or No), making it easier to analyze results. Closed-ended questions can take the form of yes/no, multiple-choice, or rating scales.
- Keep rating scale questions consistent throughout the survey – Rating scales are a great way to measure and compare sets of variables. If you elect to use rating scales (e.g. from 1 – to 5), keep them consistent throughout the survey. Use the same number of points on the scale and make sure meanings of high and low stay consistent throughout the survey. Also, use an odd number in your rating scale to make data analysis easier.
- Logical ordering – Make sure your survey flows in a logical order. Begin with a brief introduction that motivates survey-takers to complete the survey (e.g. Help us improve our service to you. Please answer the following short survey). Next, it is a good idea to start from broader-based questions and then move to those narrower in scope. Finally, collect demographic data and ask any sensitive questions at the end (unless you are using this information to screen out survey participants).
- Pre-test your survey – Make sure you pre-test your survey with a few members of your target audience and/or co-workers to find glitches and unexpected question interpretations.
- Consider your timing when sending survey invitations – Recent statistics show the highest open and click-through rates take place on Monday, Friday, and Sunday. In addition, our research shows that the quality of survey responses does not vary from weekday to weekend.
- Send survey email reminders – While not appropriate for all surveys, sending out reminders to those who haven’t previously responded can often provide a significant boost in response rates. Be sure to include why the survey is important and how the results will impact the customer’s experience.
- Consider offering an incentive – Depending upon the type of survey and survey audience, offering an incentive is usually very effective at improving response rates. People like the idea of getting something for their time. You may wish to test monetary rewards, discounts, or even sweepstakes with a chance to win a larger prize. Be careful, though… while incentivizing surveys can increase completions, it may not always attract the target audience.
Typeform Conversational Surveys
BONUS: Utilize a platform like Typeform that utilizes a conversation-style survey approach. This is also known as progressive disclosure… when the user isn’t overwhelmed by the experience but is met with a single survey question at a time.
Ready to get started? Apply the steps above, launch your survey and get ready to analyze your results in real-time. Are you currently using online surveys for your business? Did you find these tips to be helpful? Please join the conversation in the comment section below.
Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Typeform and I’m using my affiliate links in this article.