Online surveys are a great way to collect opinions and feedback from your customers or audience. They are not limited to this use – you can utilize surveys to get more insight into your market opportunities or competitors’ standing in your target market. However, if not done right, surveys lead to unreliable results, which in turn lead to bad decisions.
In this guide, we will show you how to create a survey that is clear, engaging, fitting with your objective and capable of delivering reliable results.
Pros and Cons of Online Surveys
Online surveys provide you with quite a few benefits – they are quick and easy to make, and there are virtually no expenses of their distribution. Second, they allow you plenty of freedom in terms of design, content chunking, and interactive elements that will make even a 50-question survey an entertaining way to pass time.
Respondents engage with them from the comfort of their home, without time limitations or obligations to turn them in or mail them.
On the other hand, while distributing your survey online allows you to reach a large number of people, the issue of correct sampling may come up. While sampling is not an issue if you are surveying your customers, students, or some closed group, if you are looking for answers from a larger population, you need to follow certain rules.
Finally, online survey response rates may vary and sometimes can be as low as 1%. Your survey needs to meet a few requirements to make sure your respondents answer all the questions. It needs to be in line with their interests and confidentiality regulations, and it is not bad if you can offer the respondents some incentive.
In one of the following sections, I will explain how to overcome these possible pitfalls of online surveys.
4 Things You Need to Get Right in a Survey
1. Use the sampling calculator
Let me say it one more time – sampling is not a big concern if you are surveying a specific closed group of people, such as your customers, clients or students attending your classes. However, if you want to see, for example, how millennials feel about dip sauces, you want to make sure the sample reflects the larger population. Faulty sampling will lead to incorrect results, turning your survey into a waste of time. More dangerously, acting upon these results could waste your money and business opportunities.
2. Keep it short, clear and logical
If you want to get the respondents to stick to the survey until the end, make sure your questions are clear and concise. Use simple language, and avoid putting several questions into one. For example, you could ask a student whether the professor was knowledgeable and fair, offering yes and no as the answers. In fact, him being knowledgeable doesn’t necessarily mean he was fair, and vice versa.
So keep things logical – one question, one answer. Avoid jumping from one topic to another, organize questions logically. If you are surveying your coffee shop customers, it is logical to start off with a question how often they come, then move to the beverage they prefer, and finish with their recommendations for improved offer and service.
Finally, keep your survey short – nobody wants to feel like they are being interrogated against their will. Up to 12 questions is quite enough for a small customer survey on a specific issue. If you are conducting a larger survey and need to include dozens of questions, make sure you apply content chunking – split questions in several larger logical sections. Another way to make big surveys more “digestible” is to track progress with a bar or numbers of the remaining questions.
3. Minimize bias in questions and answers
Many surveys are guilty of trying to nudge responses in a certain way. While getting the answers you desire is a great thing, it is pointless if it was the result of biased questions such as “how good is our product?”. Keep the neutral tone in your questions.
On top of that, you should take into account that respondents also suffer from a bias, especially when answering questions about their personal habits. Sometimes, this is not on purpose. If you are asking people to recall how many times have they done a certain thing in the past few months, you are unlikely to get a 100% accurate answer.
4. Respect respondents’ privacy
Respecting users’ privacy is one of the prerequisites for high response rates. A great way to do that is to make sure your survey is in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). GDPR compliance includes:
- seeking permission to use the customers’ data, explicitly and unambiguously
- explaining why you need this data
- proving you need this data
- documenting the ways you use personal data
- reporting any data breaches promptly
- building accessible privacy settings into your digital products and websites
- keeping privacy settings switched on
Non-compliance could cost you a lot of customers, as well as up to $23,4 million or 4% of your global turnover in fines.
Types of surveys
There are several types of surveys you can create, based on several criteria. Each has its pros and cons, and the type you are going to choose depends on the goal of the survey.
They are administered at one point in time, allowing you to learn what your customers think and do at the moment. For example, this type of survey can help you track current mood among your customers, or their behavior in limited timeframes, such as holiday season.
These surveys are conducted repeatedly over an extended period of time. Longitudinal surveys can be divided into trend, panel, and cohort surveys. Trend surveys are conducted with a random sample on a regular basis – weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly. They allow you to understand how behaviors change over time and find patterns specific to certain periods.
While trend surveys are administered to a random sample of people, panel surveys are administered to the same group of respondents each time.
Finally, cohort surveys are conducted with a different group of people each time, but they are always a representative sample of a specific group (millennials, cosmetics fans, etc)
Retrospective surveys explore the opinions and behaviors of people over an extended period of time, but they are conducted like at only one point in time, asking from a respondent to recall their past experiences and attitudes.
4+5. Quantitative and Qualitative Surveys
Based on the type of results you are seeking, surveys can be qualitative and quantitative. While quantitative surveys will offer you answers can be transformed into numbers, tables, charts or graphs, qualitative surveys will provide you with explanations for some of these findings.
Most surveys are a combination of these two approaches. While quantitative questions allow you to test the ideas and predictions and measure general trends, qualitative questions help you explain them, or even find new ideas.
How to create a survey
This survey is an example of a basic survey you can use to get more detailed customer feedback. It is the most common type of survey used among businesses – a cross-sectional survey. You can easily adjust it to any type of business. Want to try to create it with us?
Log in here, follow the steps, and the page will take you to an online content builder where you can create unlimited quizzes and surveys in less than an hour. The options are endless. You can add close-ended and open-ended questions, images, videos, and sign-up forms. But let’s go step by step.
Start by designing your landing page – it should attract attention and tell the respondent clearly what the survey is about. However, we added a little trick here – we also included an incentive for survey respondents.
Most of the questions should be quantitative and close-ended. This will allow you to segment your customers into several groups and adjust your marketing strategy for each of them. A good way to start is to determine how often people buy your product or use your services.
After that, you can determine how pleased the customer is with your product. Leave the “how” and “why” questions for later – first, it is important to nail down the sheer number of satisfied customers.
Based on the answers, you can use logic branching and create different follow-up questions for different answers. For example, the respondents who didn’t give your product the excellent score can be taken to this question. This will help you understand what people dislike about your product, and the way to improve it.
For those who responded with “excellent,” you can simply forward them to the next question related to the quality of your service.
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel – use the same simple pattern. Close-ended question, followed by an open-ended question that clarifies the previous answer.
If you want to learn which products are the most popular, go with the close-ended question. If there are a lot of choices, try to visualize them like this.
Finally, you can end the survey with a question referring to your products, or you can simply ask them if they have any suggestion. It’s a chance to gain feedback on things that did not cross your mind, and some repeated answers can easily point to the thing you have been missing.
This survey has 7 questions, with 4 of them close-ended and 3 of them open-ended. In general, most of your questions should be close-ended, because these results are easily quantifiable and they will allow you to see the patterns in customer’s opinion and behavior.
However, don’t ditch qualitative feedback – allowing customers to explain why they feel a certain way gives meaning to the numbers you get in the surveys.
If you like the survey we created, you can try creating one on your own with LeadQuizzes. But this doesn’t have to be the only thing you do with this software. Quizzes and surveys can also be a great way to attract new customers and learn more about them from the get-go.
Want to try it? Click below.