There are a number of great reasons to create a survey for your business – to follow up with customers, to gather data on new product ideas, to understand your market better – but none of these succeed if no one completes your survey.
Start with easy questions.
Don’t make your respondents think too hard right off the bat. The subject is likely something that you are quite familiar with – and have given a lot of thought to – but the people you are asking to respond will have to be warmed to your subject. Get your subjects warmed to the subject – and used to answering questions – by asking questions that they can quickly and easily answer first.
Make people comfortable.
If you want honest answers to your survey, you have to make people comfortable enough to open up to you. Personal questions, like income level for example, make people nervous. You can make them more comfortable by allowing them to skip the question by choosing “prefer not to answer” and by giving them categories to choose from, rather than asking them outright to tell you their household income.
Ask multiple-choice questions as much as possible.
Open-ending (or essay) questions are hard to answer and take time, so use them appropriately. In particular, don’t ask them an open-ended question when it is something that you can easily categorize. For example, instead of asking “Describe your business’ social media policy” ask, “Which one of these statements most closely matches your social media policy.” Not only are these questions easier for your subject to answer, they are also easier for you to interpret.
Don’t force people to lie.
As much as possible, you want your survey to capture people’s thoughts and opinions at a particular moment in time. To do this, make sure that they can answer each and every question accurately and honestly. Don’t force them to choose a response that they have no personal experience with.
For example, if you are a restaurant and you ask for feedback about the state of the restrooms on the day of the visit, make sure you offer the option of “not applicable.” Otherwise, the respondent will have to randomly choose an answer which will invalidate your results.
Ask open-ended questions appropriately.
Open-ended are opportunities for gathering valuable insights from your respondents. But if you ask them the wrong way, you blow this opportunity.
Follow these Guidelines for Creating Surveys that People Love to Complete:
- Warm them up. Ask open-ended or short answer questions after you’ve warmed them up to your topic with multiple choice questions.
- Avoid general questions. “Describe the division of household labor in your marriage” is better than “describe your marriage.” “What one thing would you like most to see changed about our product” is better than “please provide feedback about our product.”
- Be specific. Don’t make your respondent guess what it is you are looking for, tell them. The more specific you are, the easier it is for them to answer.
- Break questions up into bite sized pieces. It is easier to answer a series of short questions than to craft an intelligent answer to one long question.
- Don’t ask too many open-ended questions in a row. Be aware of respondent fatigue and break up your questions that involve a lot o thinking with easier to answer questions.
Short surveys get more answers.
Whenever you are crafting a survey, be aware of how long it will take someone to complete your finished survey. Short, 5 minute, surveys attract more respondents than 10 minute ones, and 10 minute surveys will have more respondents than 20 minute surveys. If you want to ask lots of in-depth questions, create 2 surveys. The first is shorter and introduces your respondents to your topic and gathers some preliminary data. It’s main purpose, however, is to gather volunteers who are interested in completing your longer survey. You’ll save yourself time in the long run because a higher percentage of people will complete your longer survey because they will know what they are signing up for when they volunteer.
The better you understand your respondent before you survey them, the better you’ll be able to make them comfortable enough to open up to you – and the more they will feel like you know them already.
Learn more tips about creating accurate and interesting surveys in my FREE guide, How to Create Surveys the People LOVE to Complete.