How to write a good survey that gets responses

Surveys are questionnaires that may be sent to current, prospective and lapsed clients to gather useful information for your business.

Marketing sometimes runs the risk of being based on opinion instead of fact. Surveys help uncover facts that will lead to sounder marketing choices. Understanding what makes your audience tick and what they’re thinking means that you know what will motivate customers to purchase from you, leading to stronger marketing results.

Poorly written surveys can result in misleading or even false information, so it’s important that your survey is easy to understand and doesn’t introduce accidental bias to your results.

Here are 5 tips for putting together a good survey:

1. Short and sweet

The rule of thumb for a good survey length is 10 minutes or less. Respondents tend to lose interest and focus after 10 minutes, boosting the number of incomplete responses and potentially skewing your data.
To keep your survey concise, you will need to do some up-front planning to determine what is essential to know, and what would be nice to know. The best way to make the distinction is to ask yourself how you will use the information – if you don’t know, it’s not essential.

2. Keep it simple

Respondents only need the smallest excuse to stop doing your survey. If it’s too hard or complicated to complete, they will simply move on. Your aim is to keep the respondent thinking “÷this is easy, it won’t take long’, which will provide you with better results and information you can use.

3. Use plain English

Plain, simple English means the respondent understands the question and there is no misunderstanding as to what type of information you are looking for. Language is an important part of survey writing, as it can introduce misunderstanding, bias and even create skewed response.

4. Test it

It’s better to catch a problem with a survey during the pretest rather than after it has been published and can’t be changed. There are two ways of testing the survey – send it out to a small group of people in your office, or send it out to a small sample of your actual audience. The first group can test technical aspects of the survey (does the submit button work, is the coding in the backend ok), and the second group will help identify problems with the way the survey is written (is the language easy to understand, were there problems with answering certain questions).

5. Incentivise

An incentive doesn’t have to be a tangible prize, although prizes can be a strong motivator for completing a survey. One great intangible incentive to offer is to share a summary of the information gathered. Respondents will be more likely to give their opinions and information if they get a little bit in return – providing the information is valuable to them.

Send this to a friend