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5 Key Success Factors to Creating an Effective Survey

Every survey completed is a favor someone does for your company to help you gain valuable insights and data. Though a participant may agree to take your survey, if the questions aren’t interesting and engaging, the data you end up with may not be as insightful. In order to avoid overly high survey bounce rates, you will want to write an actionable survey with questions that are relevant, streamlined and straightforward. An actionable survey is going to get more valuable information at a higher completion rate than a poorly written survey that does not have a predetermined focus.

The concept is simple enough, but how do you make a survey engaging enough to be effective? It isn’t that difficult if you keep the consumer at the forefront of your mind as you design and create the survey. Having a clear focus and using this to tailor your survey questions will help you capture the data you’re after. Creating an effective survey doesn’t have to be an unpleasant or a daunting task. The quantitative research experts at Insights in Marketing are always focused on collecting the best data for clients – data that is actionable and impactful. Over their many years of survey writing experience, they have discovered 5 key factors that are important for creating an effective survey.

5 Key Factors:

  1. Beware of Survey Creep! Start out by asking, what’s the point? All surveys should have a clear objective and focus solely on that objective. Focused surveys generate high response rates and allow for more efficient analysis on the back end. Even though you might be tempted to toss in some ‘nice to have’ questions or questions to supplement another project, try and stop yourself or be prepared for low response rates and lots of frustration when doing the analysis.
  2. Optimize Your Survey Flow
    • Qualifier questions up front – don’t make people who don’t qualify take the survey (it bugs them and you don’t want to pay for them!)
    • Broad and general questions should be at the beginning to obtain their unbiased opinions first. Then, narrow the focus, getting into more specifics as you work through the survey. Hold sensitive questions (e.g., income, race) until the end if possible – these types of questions may alienate respondents and if so you don’t want to lose them early in the survey.
    • Keep the respondents’ mindset on one topic at a time - going back and forth between topics can confuse respondents and cause them to lose interest.
  3. Make sure survey language is customer/consumer-friendly – write it in their words. The response choice(s) should accurately reflect their attitudes, opinions and language.
    • If you’re not familiar with consumer language, it’s best to conduct qualitative research prior to developing your survey.  This will enable you to understand how consumers speak about your category and brand.
  4. Keep the survey length manageable – the days of the 45-60 minute surveys are long gone. Consumers are bombarded with information, emails, social media, text messages etc... And none of them have time or a willingness to engage in long surveys. Do everything you can to keep your surveys at no more than 20 minutes.
  5. Take care when designing and phrasing questions and responses.
    • Ask only one question at a time - compound questions & attributes lead to uncertainty in analysis.
    • Never use leading or biased questions - e.g., “How much do you love this idea?"
    • Beware of using grids – they typically don’t show up well on mobile/smartphone and today many research respondents are taking surveys on their smartphone.
    • Make sure your response list is exhaustive – that is everyone can identify with a response; e.g. for favorite flavor of ice cream do not just list vanilla and chocolate – and be sure to include an “other” option.
    • Make sure your response list is mutually exclusive so respondents can easily select only one response; e.g. for # of times you eat ice cream in the past month don’t have overlapping responses like 0-2 and 2-4 etc.

Once you’ve written an effective survey with well-designed questions, you will be well on your way towards getting actionable results. If you have more questions we would be happy to help! Contact us for more information about writing a great survey for your target audience.

See our Quantitative team in action. To see more case studies, click here.

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