How old are you? Are you married? What’s your household income? No, I do not enjoy poking around other people’s privacy, I’m just trying to do a demographic survey.
And this is not really how you should do it. But don’t worry, we are going to show you how to use online surveys or quizzes to obtain valuable data and what kind of demographic questions to use for the best survey results.
Why Is Demographic Information Important?
No matter what industry you’re in – whether you’re developing new products, providing cleaning services, selling cars, or just trying to gauge public opinion, knowing the demographic data of your survey respondents can significantly affect the success of your business.
Demography is the science of population, while demographics are characteristics of (and statistics related to) a population. Characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity, location, education, employment status, marital status, and household income/composition are some of the examples of demographics typically used in surveys.
Demographic questions are particularly useful if you’re looking to gather background information about your customers. If used properly, these enable you to learn more about your target audience. They are often used to segment audiences on the basis of who they are and what they do, making it easier for you to be certain you’re targeting the right people.
It’s worth noting, however, that demographic questions are just one of the 8 types of survey questions that can get you all the data you need. Now, let’s examine some of the most commonly used demographic question examples.
The 8 Most Common Demographic Questions
Questions about age are a part of almost every demographic survey ever. That’s because age is powerful data to segment your audience by. Many brands and companies target their products and services based on their average customer’s age. Even the former President Barack Obama won the 2008 election largely because he took advantage of his dominance among young voters.
When creating age-related demographic survey questions, the answer ranges will differ based on the topic of your survey. For example, your demographic survey will probably target different audiences if you’re surveying people about pop culture compared to a survey on retirement plans. Still, make sure to allow people of all ages to respond (adding ‘over X’ and ‘under Y’ may be a good option).
The answer options above encompass a somewhat broad range of ages, but if your survey calls for more specific and precise data, you can offer smaller age ranges to choose from, such as:
18-22 years old
23-26 years old
27-30 years old
2. Gender (Sex)
The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association differentiates between gender and sex as follows: “Gender is cultural and is the term to use when referring to women and men as social groups. Sex is biological; use it when the biological distinction is predominant.”
Why is this important for demographic surveys? As such surveys are mainly intended for market research, in most cases you’ll be looking for someone’s gender. Such questions can be extremely tricky to ask, as people have recently become hypersensitive and easily offended when asked about gender.
So, the simplest, least offensive, and most versatile gender demographic survey question might contain the following answer options:
3. Ethnicity (Race)
An even more sensitive (and politically charged) subject than gender, ethnicity may be a topic to avoid if possible. Nevertheless, depending on the occasion, asking about race may be necessary. In such a case, it’s probably best to create checkbox-type questions, which allow respondents to check multiple answers.
This is especially important if we take into account the fact that many countries are melting pots of different races and cultures – in the USA alone, you are likely to have respondents who identify as African American, Latino, Pacific Islander, Native American, Native Hawaiian, and much more.
As with all sensitive demographic questions, it’s important to give respondents the possibility not to answer (perhaps by adding “other” or “prefer not to answer” to answer options).
Are most of your customers Bachelor’s degree holders or high school dropouts? Depending on the type of product or service you offer, this can make a significant difference. It can also be your leverage, as segmenting your customers according to their level of education can uncover unique trends that enable you to target the right audience.
In most cases, education demographic questions ask about the highest level of education or the highest degree obtained by an individual:
5. Employment status
Employment questions can address a wide range of topics, such as industry, organization type and size, job title, years of experience, income, and more.
Asking about someone’s yearly income is yet another sensitive issue and many people consider such questions too invasive. That’s why you should avoid asking such questions directly unless it’s absolutely essential to your survey. If you really need to know how much they earn but want to avoid asking directly, there’s a workaround – you can ask about their location and job title and then find out what the average salary is.
Also, in most cases, unemployed respondents will have significantly different answers when compared to those employed full-time.
6. Location (Geographical data)
Perhaps you would like to know where your customers live or what their nationality is?
In international business, you may just ask about the country, but if you’re doing business locally, you may want to ask for a city or a ZIP code as well. As there are numerous possible answers to choose from, location demographic questions are most often given in a drop-down menu answer format.
7. Marital status
Why should marital status matter in terms of market research? For example, while most married women will put the needs of their family first, a single woman’s priorities are more likely to circulate around her own self. This shows that marital status can significantly affect the way respondents answer your survey questions.
8. Household income
In addition to household composition (marital status, whether they have any kids, and so on), household income might be another important thing to ask your survey takers. It may tell you whether they’re able to afford your product or service or not. Plus, asking about household income may be considered a bit less invasive than asking about an individual’s income.
Now that you know which questions to ask, you can easily create your own demographic survey. Or, even simpler, why not use our ready-made demographic survey template?
Once you’ve created your own survey (or taken our template), here’s what you can do to get the most out of it.
4 Tips on How to Use Surveys to Get Valuable Demographic Data
Make it anonymous. If you’re not using your survey to generate leads but looking to unveil certain broad trends or patterns in your customers’ behavior, you should consider making your survey anonymous. The fact is, many people are cautious about revealing information they consider private. In case your survey is anonymous, make sure to emphasize that.
Briefly explain the background of your survey. Include a brief introduction to your survey in which you would clearly state its purpose. Reassure your respondents by sharing exactly how you’ll be using their information.
Make it easily accessible. As we live in a digital world, you need to make sure your survey is available to be filled out online. If you’re using LeadQuizzes to create your surveys, you can easily integrate with some of the most popular apps and services, embed your survey to your website, send it via email, and share on Facebook or other social media.
Make it brief. Shorter surveys are easier for respondents to complete. It also might be a good idea to indicate the total number of questions at the very beginning of the survey.
What to Do with Demographic Survey Results?
Asking people to fill out a questionnaire is the easy part but your job doesn’t end here. After conducting a research survey, marketers need to find trends in the answers.
Are Millennials or Boomers more likely to buy your products? Is your cool new social app going to be popular among Ph.D. holders? Could self-employed people benefit from your accounting services?
By analyzing and cross-tabulating your survey responses, you might discover for example that Spanish men over the age of 40 are your ideal customers. Why does this matter? Market segmentation will cut your ad spend and ensure you reach the right target market.
From what’s been said above, it’s clear that demographic surveys are a great way of collecting valuable data on your customers. With that in mind, LeadQuizzes makes it simple to find out more about your potential customers and analyze the obtained data to make more informed marketing decisions. In just a few minutes, you can easily design and create compelling surveys your audience will enjoy taking.
Click the button below and create your own survey now.
(No developer skills needed and you can try it for free.)