Last month at the emfluence User Conference we were excited to announce our new Survey feature for creating, sharing and analyzing feedback from your contacts. In honor of that, I thought I’d whip up some tips on how to make effective online surveys.

6 quick tips for creating online surveys:

  1. Start with objectives, not questions. Just like the rest of your marketing, start with the end in mind: what business decision do you want to be able to make using the results of this survey? Try starting with a hypothesis to prove (or disprove!) so you know exactly what action to take once your results are in.
  2. Survey for measurable & actionable findings. Craft your questions so they lead to a conclusive action you can take towards your objectives above. Say your objective is to make an upgrade to your product based on what most of your customers want. Ask survey takers to prioritize the most important feature upgrade. Wherever possible, use quantitative questions so you can tally up answers easily, i.e. “Feature A got 45 votes, Feature B got 28 votes.”
  3. Only require your most necessary questions. Forcing survey-takers to answer questions may skew your results if they don’t understand the question or if it doesn’t apply to them. They also may flat out lie if they feel like it’s a sensitive question. (Admit it, you’ve done it.) Offer “I don’t know” and “Not Applicable” as response options to help keep your results honest.
  4. Keep it short. Your whole survey should only take about 5 minutes to complete. If it takes longer than 10 minutes, you’ll probably need to incentivize respondents to take it. Avoid using insider jargon, and make your questions concise. If you’re offering options for the respondent to choose from, i.e. a multiple choice question, offer no more than 10 response options, of no more than 10 words each.
  5. Pay attention to the order of your questions. Your first question or two should be easy and interesting to entice respondents to start answering. Make your survey easier/faster by grouping similar questions together. You can make the survey seem shorter (and less intimidating) by breaking it up into multiple pages, sorted by question topic. The bonus there is that you lock in each page’s questions in case the respondent doesn’t finish the whole survey. Put demographic questions like gender, age and location at the end. People are more likely to give you that information after they’ve filled out the survey.
  6. Test, test, test. Have a fresh pair of eyes help test your survey for grammar, question clarity and to be sure there isn’t any sneaky question bias. But don’t forget to also test your analysis. Run a report using test numbers to see if your findings will be clearly actionable. If not, it’s time to re-write.

Sure, there are about a dozen more tips, but these 6 things will get you on the right track to creating the best survey possible. Be on the lookout for the next post on best practices when conducting surveys.

Do you have a tip or trick that's made a difference in your online survey?


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