Developing a good survey has never been easier thanks to web-based survey tools. Even so, if you’re considering launching a survey, start with a plan. SurveyMonkey, a popular web-based online survey tool, offers the following 10 tips to creating and improving your online surveys:
1. Define the purpose of your online survey: Identify your survey’s goal, why you’re creating the survey, what you hope to accomplish from it and how you will use the data you collect.
2. Keep the survey short and focused: Make sure each of your questions is focused on helping to meet your stated objective. SurveyMonkey research (along with Gallup and others) has shown that the survey should take 5 minutes or less to complete. While 6 to 10 minutes is acceptable, significant abandonment rates occur after 11 minutes.
3. Keep the questions simple: Don’t assume that your survey takers are as comfortable with your acronyms as you are. Try to make your questions as specific and direct as possible.
4. Use closed-ended questions whenever possible: Closed-ended questions can take the form of yes/no, multiple choice or a rating scale. Open-ended survey questions allow people to answer a question in their own words. Open-ended questions are great supplemental questions and may provide useful qualitative information and insights.
5. Keep rating scale questions consistent throughout the survey: 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.
6. Logical ordering: Make your survey flow 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.”). Start from broader-based questions and then move to those narrower in scope.
7. Pre-test your survey: 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 audience when sending survey invitations: Recent statistics show the highest open and click rates take place on Monday, Friday and Sunday. If you are a sales driven business, avoid sending to employees at month end when they are trying to close business.
9. Consider sending several 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: SurveyMonkey research has shown that incentives typically boost response rates by 50 percent on average. One caveat is to keep the incentive appropriate in scope.