10 Steps to Creating Effective Online Surveys


Online survey tools such as Zoomerang are fantastic for effectively and efficiently collecting and analyzing data. A well put together online survey provides you with actionable, clear information for your business decisions. Spending the necessary time upfront and building a great online survey will help you achieve higher response rates, higher quality data and will be much easier for your respondents to complete.

boost survey response ratesHere are 10 steps to help you create effective surveys, increase the response rate of your surveys, and improve the overall quality of the data you gather.

  1. Clearly define the purpose of your survey – Good surveys have focused objectives that are easily understood. Spend time up front to identify your objectives. Advance planning helps ensure that the survey asks the right questions to meet the objective and generate useful data.
  2. Keep the survey short and focused – Short and focused helps with both quality and quantity of responses. It is generally better to focus on a single objective than to try to create a master survey that covers multiple objectives. Zoomerang research (along with Gallop and others) has shown that a survey should take 5 minutes or less to complete. 6 – 10 minutes is acceptable but we see significant abandonment rates occurring after 11 minutes.
  3. Keep the questions simple – Make sure your questions get to the point and avoid the use of jargon, slang or acronyms.
  4. Use closed ended questions whenever possible – Closed ended survey questions give respondents specific choices (e.g. Yes or No), making it easier to analyze results. Closed ended questions can take the form of yes/no, multiple choice or rating scale.
  5. Keep rating scale questions consistent through the survey – Rating scales are a great way to measure and compare sets of variables. If you elect to use rating scales (e.g. from 1 – 5) keep it consistent throughout the survey. Use the same number of points on the scale and make sure meanings of high and low stay consistent throughout the survey. Also, use an odd number in your rating scale to make data analysis easier.
  6. Logical ordering – Make sure your survey flows in a logical order. Begin with a brief introduction that motivates survey takers to complete the survey (e.g. “Help us improve our service to you. Please answer the following short survey.”). Next, it is a good idea to start from broader–based questions and then move to those narrower in scope. Finally, collect demographic data and ask any sensitive questions at the end (unless you are using this information to screen out survey participants).
  7. Pre–test your survey – Make sure you pre–test your survey with a few members of your target audience and/or co–workers to find glitches and unexpected question interpretations.
  8. Consider your timing when sending survey invitations – Recent statistics show the highest open and click through rates take place on Monday, Friday and Sunday. In addition, our research shows that the quality of survey responses does not vary from weekday to weekend.
  9. Send survey email reminders – While not appropriate for all surveys, sending out reminders to those who haven’t previously responded can often provide a significant boost in response rates.
  10. Consider offering an incentive– Depending upon the type of survey and survey audience, offering an incentive is usually very effective at improving response rates. People like the idea of getting something for their time. Zoomerang research has shown that incentives typically boost response rates by 50% on average.

Ready to get started? Sign up for a free Zoomerang basic account, apply the steps above, launch your survey and get ready to analyze your results in real time. Stay tuned upcoming posts where I will dive into more advanced survey features along with innovative ways to incorporate online surveys into your overall business strategy. Happy Surveying!

Are you currently using online surveys for your business? Did you find these tips to be helpful? Please join the conversation in the comment section below.

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