- Keep it simple
- Use a test run
- Do your research
- Don't cast a wide net when a fish hook will do
- Always follow up a survey with another survey
- Pay attention to non-responders
- Make it convenient
- Experiment with survey formats
- Keep it fresh
- Add incentives to your surveys
- Customize survey data and reports
- Use surveys to strengthen your brand
- Leverage the power of internal surveys
- Ensure confidentiality and anonymity for sensitive surveys
- Use survey feedback to inform future survey models
- Avoid the technical language
- Use two versions of the same survey to gauge effectiveness
- Tie surveys into rewards programs and giveaways
- Let surveys be the eyes and ears of upper management
- Use a survey as a trial balloon to float new ideas
Do not make reading and answering questions an effort or labor on the part of respondents. The questions should be easy to understand and easy to answer without confusion. Use language that even a child could understand, if possible, and try to limit answers instead of asking for elaborate responses.
Test out your survey on a smaller sample of respondents before you give it the green light and send it to everyone on your list. Include a question or two such as "Was this survey easy to understand and easy to respond to?" to help get feedback about the mechanics of the survey. Analyze the responses you get to fine-tune your survey before you send it to everyone.
Surveys are only as useful and valuable as you make them, and the art and science of creating effective surveys is a highly specialized area. Read everything you can about what works - and what does not work - when creating a survey. Consult the experts, study examples of good surveys, and learn as much as possible before sending out a survey.
Surveying a target demographic is like fishing for information, answers, and feedback. But every good fisherman knows that each particular type of fish needs a specific type of bait. Instead of trying to throw a big net and catch everyone, concentrate each individual survey on a specific group. Refine your focus and you will automatically improve your results.
The more you build on the survey feedback you receive, the more valuable your surveys become. Don't make the mistake of limiting yourself to just one survey, because the more you use surveys, the greater the return. Screen responses from the first survey to tailor a new survey that hones in more and digs deeper. The more you follow-up the richer the results.
When people do not respond to a survey, that is also valuable feedback. Try to understand why, and always embed a question that asking non-responders why they were reluctant to answer. The answers people do not give often offer a valuable clue to the answers you really need to know.
One of the first rules of successful surveying is that the survey process needs to be easy for the respondents. Forget pen and paper surveys or calling people on the phone. That runs the risk of annoying them. Use a virtual email survey that they can respond to at their own convenience.
Try sending a super short survey of only three or four questions. Then experiment with a longer one of 8-10 questions. Find out how it affects the results of the survey, and then tailor your next one accordingly. Look for the optimum size or style of survey that yields the highest response rate.
Wait too long to get survey results back and the data may be stale and misleading. Use an electronic computer-based survey platform that offers immediate delivery, instant access to returned results, and real-time analysis of survey results.
Everyone likes incentives, inspiration, and motivation. So connect your customer feedback or employee input surveys to some kind of incentive such as a chance to earn a store discount or an opportunity to attend a company employee workshop.
Survey data is like gold, and should be mined effectively. Use a survey system that lets you crunch numbers, data, and statistical results and organize the information into special report formats - depending upon who needs to know. Have one report for the sales team, for example; a slightly different report tailored to senior executives, and another just for mid-level managers who are interested in a somewhat different analysis of the data.
Be consistent with your branding and your brand grows stronger. So use surveys to inquire about whether people recognize your logo, slogan, or brand name. Based on the results you can make important adjustments to strategically strengthen your brand and your customer base.
Everyone knows that surveys are great tools for getting customer feedback, but they are also powerful resources for understanding what employees and managers think and feel. Use internal in-house surveys to keep healthy lines of communication going and improve the operation of your company.
Instead of sending the survey directly to someone's email, for example - which gives away who they are - consider having them log on to a special survey website or page to fill it out. People will give you more accurate and honest feedback if they can be assured that their identities will remain unknown and that their answers are completely held in confidence.
Once you get feedback from a survey, use that vital information to help you construct your next survey. Analyze which questions got the most helpful answers, which demographic responded the best, and which parts of the survey were most worthwhile to you. Learn from the results and your future surveys will be even more impactful and valuable.
If you send a survey to someone who doesn't understand it, they will either not respond or they will respond without really understanding the question - and that can produce false results. Avoid technical words and language, and make sure that none of your survey questions carry dual meanings or the potential for ambiguous interpretation. Straight talk yields straight answers.
Wording of surveys is a key to success and effectiveness, but sometimes it is hard to choose the right question or the best way to ask it. So use both versions by putting some into one survey and some into another and send them both at the same time - dividing them between a small sample of your target demographic. Judge the responses to see which version worked best, and then stick with it for future surveys.
Next time you have a contest, drawing, or other giveaway promotion tie it to a short survey. You can also tie surveys to rewards programs for preferred customers. When they sign up for the contest or program, have them also fill out the survey. Connecting it to the reward or chance to win a prize inspires them with an added incentive to answer survey questions.
Senior management needs to know what is going on throughout all levels of the company, but hourly wage employees may be reluctant to speak their minds in a totally honest and open way. Use anonymous and confidential surveys to elicit frank and truthful feedback. Your employees will feel that their voices are being heard and management will be better informed.
Before launching a marketing campaign, a new brand or logo, implementing a new company policy for employees, or rolling out a new product first test the reaction to it with a survey. That can save you time, money, and aggravation - and can make the new initiative more successful and well received.