Poor or poorly designed surveys can lead to inaccurate results, which in turn makes it difficult to make good management decisions.
Therefore, it is important to understand how to create a survey that not only collects the information you need, but also does so as efficiently and accurately as possible. I have been working in the field of research for a long time and have come across many cases where a properly organized survey provided companies with valuable insights for development.
In this article, I’ll share ten tips to help you create a successful online survey. We will look at everything from formulating questions to analyzing the results. The article will also contain case studies, expert opinions and references to current research.
What kind of survey do you need: Assessing the survey’s goals and objectives
Before you start creating a survey, it is important to understand what purpose it is intended to serve. This step is often neglected, although it determines what questions will be asked in the survey, who the target audience will be, and what methods of analysis will be most appropriate. At this stage, key metrics are determined that will subsequently be measured.
Tasks that a survey can solve:
Customer Satisfaction Assessment (CSAT)
Employee assessment and engagement
Market and competitor research
Testing a new product or service
Collecting feedback to improve a product or service
Conducting academic research
Assessing the effectiveness of a marketing campaign
Let’s say you work in the HR department and want to conduct a survey among employees to determine their level of engagement in work. In this case, questions may concern the work environment, relationships with colleagues and management, career growth, and so on. It is important to determine how the results will be analyzed – it may be necessary to use complex statistical analysis methods.
As many sociology and marketing researchers emphasize, defining goals and objectives is a fundamental step in creating a survey.
A recently published study in the Journal of Marketing Research confirms that the quality of a survey’s results is directly related to how clearly its goals and objectives are defined.
So, preparation for the survey should include:
Determine what exactly you want to find out with the survey.
Formulation of specific tasks and definition of metrics for measurement.
Choosing a methodology and tools that will help solve your problem.
Only then can you proceed to the next stage – choosing the target audience and creating questions.
Tip 1: Choose your target audience
How to Choose the Right Audience for a Survey
Once the goals and objectives of the survey are clearly defined, the next step is choosing the target audience (TA). The target audience is a group of people whose answers to your questions will be the most valuable and informative for achieving your goals. Errors at this stage can result in survey data that is unrepresentative or even misleading.
Options for selecting a target audience may include:
Geography of residence
The level of education
Consumer habits and interests
Let’s say you work for a marketing agency and are planning to launch a new advertising campaign to promote organic food products. You decide to conduct a survey to find out which arguments will be most convincing to your target audience.
In this case, the target audience could be people aged 25 to 45 years, living in cities with a population of more than a million, interested in a healthy lifestyle and already buying organic products.
Conducting a survey among this target audience will allow you to obtain the most relevant and useful data, which can subsequently be used when creating an advertising campaign.
What follows from this:
Clearly define who is included in your target audience.
Consider all sociodemographic and psychographic factors that may influence results.
Don’t skimp on time at this stage. The quality of the entire study depends on the correct choice of target audience.
Remember, it is not always possible or necessary to survey the entire target audience. However, the sample must be large enough and diverse enough for the data obtained to be considered representative.
Tip 2: Selecting the types of questions and their wording
Types of Questions and How to Use Them Effectively
The correct choice and wording of questions is one of the key aspects of a successful survey. Questions should be clear, clear and easy to understand. They should also be structured in such a way as to avoid suggesting answers or misleading respondents.
Main types of questions:
Closed questions: These questions require a limited set of answers, usually “yes” or “no”, or a choice from the given options. They are useful for obtaining specific and easily analyzed data.
Open questions: These questions give respondents freedom to express their opinions. They are useful when you want to know something that can’t be covered in closed-ended questions.
Scale (evaluative) questions: Used to measure the attitude or opinion of the respondent on a specific scale, such as 1 to 5.
Multiple Choice: They offer to select one or more answer options from the proposed list.
Sorting questions: Respondents rank the proposed options in order of preference.
Examples of effective application:
Using closed questions, you can quickly assess customer satisfaction with staff performance or product quality.
Scale questions can be useful for assessing employee motivation levels or the effectiveness of training programs.
According to research, the quality of survey data directly depends on the correct formulation of questions. Errors at this stage can lead to the loss of up to 20% of useful information.
Tip 3: Layout and design
Impact of design on responses and level of respondent engagement
Don’t underestimate the impact of design on your survey results. Design not only creates a first impression, but can also have a major impact on the quality of the data collected. Good design makes a survey more attractive and easier to understand, which in turn can increase respondent engagement.
Key design elements:
Color palette: Colors should be pleasing to the eye and not distract from the process itself. Avoid too bright and contrasting colors.
Typography: Fonts should be clear and easy to read.
Spatial distribution: Don’t overload the page with elements, let the questions and answers “breathe.”
Visualization: Graphs, diagrams or icons can make a survey more interesting and understandable.
Examples of effective application:
A simple and sophisticated design with branding elements can help customers better associate the survey with your establishment.
For scientific research, a strict and minimalist color palette is preferred to maintain a professional tone.
Using corporate colors and a logo can make the survey look official and authoritative.
Research shows that the right design can increase survey completion rates by 20–30%. This is a key indicator, especially for long and large surveys, where every percentage of engagement matters.
Tip 4: Test your survey before launching
The Value of Testing
Survey testing is an often overlooked step, but its importance cannot be overstated. Thorough testing reveals not only technical problems, but also methodological weaknesses, such as ambiguous questions or design flaws.
What to pay attention to:
Make sure all transitions between questions work properly.
Test the survey on different devices and make sure the survey displays correctly.
Perform a preliminary data analysis and see if the primary data meets your expectations and research objectives.
How to conduct A/B testing
A/B testing allows you to compare two or more versions of a survey to determine which is more effective. You can change various elements, such as the wording of the questions, the design, or the order of the questions.
Select a variable to test: This could be the title of the survey, the type of question, or even the color of the button.
Create two versions of the survey: One will be the control and the other will be the manipulated variable.
Divide your audience: Send each version to a different group of respondents.
Collect and analyze data: Evaluate the effectiveness of each version based on key metrics: completion rate, time to complete, quality of responses, etc.
One of the companies producing household appliances decided to conduct a survey on the level of customer satisfaction. The initial version of the survey had a low completion rate of just 45%. After A/B testing, which changed the design and order of questions, the completion rate rose to 75%.
Tip 5: Choose the Right Data Collection Tools
Pros and cons of different data collection tools
In the era of digitalization, the choice of tools for data collection is becoming increasingly diverse. From traditional paper surveys to high-tech online platforms, each tool has its pros and cons.
pros: No internet connection required, anonymous response possible, accessible to a wide audience.
Minuses: Labor-intensive data processing, high risk of errors when entering data, lack of automatic analysis.
pros: Opportunity to ask clarifying questions, high completion rate.
Minuses: Limited number of questions, possible subjectivity of the interviewer.
pros: Speed of data collection and analysis, the ability to use a variety of question types and media elements, access to a wide geography of respondents.
Minuses: Internet connection required.
pros: The ability to take a survey at a convenient time and place, using geolocation data for more accurate segmentation.
Minuses: Limited question format, dependent on device type.
Recently, a market research company was faced with the task of collecting data from respondents in different countries. The use of online platforms made it possible to solve this problem quickly and efficiently, saving resources on logistics and data processing.
According to statistics, online surveys have a 20% higher completion rate compared to telephone and paper surveys. This confirms that the choice of instrument can significantly influence the results of a study.
Thus, there are many factors to consider when choosing a data collection tool. A strong argument in favor of one method or another can be your specific task, budget and resources.
Tip 6: Guarantees of anonymity and confidentiality
The importance of anonymity and data protection
Anonymity and confidentiality are the cornerstones of a successful survey. In an era where problems with the processing and storage of personal data are becoming increasingly pressing, it is important for survey respondents to know that their data is secure.
Anonymity: Guaranteeing anonymity can increase the chances of more honest and candid responses, especially to sensitive questions.
Confidentiality: Ensuring the security of data storage and transmission helps avoid legal consequences and builds trust among respondents.
One of our HR client companies needed to conduct an internal survey among employees to assess the level of corporate culture. In this situation, anonymity was critical to obtaining honest answers. Using the functionality for conducting anonymous surveys with one-time passwords, the company was able to collect the most reliable data.
An interesting study from the journal Social Psychology Quarterly found that anonymous surveys are on average 55% more accurate in collecting honest and valid data compared to surveys where anonymity is not guaranteed.
Thus, guaranteeing anonymity and confidentiality is not only ethically correct, but also useful from a practical point of view. These factors should be considered when choosing survey tools and methodology.
Tip 7: Mobile Optimization
Why is this important in modern realities?
Mobile devices occupy an increasingly important place in the life of modern people. According to statistics, more than 50% of Internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. Ignoring this fact may become an obstacle to the successful conduct of the survey.
A retail company decided to optimize the user experience on its website and conduct a survey among visitors. However, they noticed that the majority of traffic (about 70%) comes from mobile devices. After optimizing the survey for mobile devices, the response rate increased by 30%.
A survey that is not optimized for mobile devices can not only be inconvenient for respondents, but also distort the data. Remember that attention levels are significantly lower when using mobile devices, so design and usability play a special role here.
According to a Pew Research Center study, 81% of adults in the United States own a smartphone. This figure raises the question of the need to optimize all online activities, including surveys, for mobile devices.
Mobile survey optimization is not just “good form”, it is a necessity, taking into account modern realities and the needs of the audience. Don’t miss the opportunity to collect quality data by paying attention to this aspect.
Tip 8: Watch your timing
How time affects the quality and quantity of responses
Choosing the right time to launch your survey and its duration are critical factors. Conducting a survey at the wrong time can significantly reduce its effectiveness and, as a result, the quality of the data collected.
Let’s say you represent brand X and want to conduct a survey among buyers of your products in retail stores. If you launch a survey during business hours on a Monday, there is a high risk that response will be low. In practice, the optimal time is often a weekend or after 18:00 on weekdays, when people are less busy and can devote time to your survey.
According to a study published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, the timing of a survey can influence its results. In particular, respondents who take surveys in the morning are often more focused and provide more detailed answers.
Understanding and accounting for timing in your survey can be a critical factor in collecting quality data.
Tip 9: Analyze the results
Data Analysis Tools and Techniques
After completing the survey, the next step is to analyze the collected data. Proper analysis allows you to draw informed conclusions and make informed decisions.
A retail company decided to conduct a survey among its customers to determine which new products to add to its range. After analyzing the survey results using statistical data analysis tools such as cluster analysis and correlation analysis, it was found that customers in the 18-24 age group are actively interested in organic products. This information became the basis for adding new products to the range.
The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, highlights the importance of qualitative data analysis. According to the study, incorrect analysis can lead to incorrect conclusions and, as a result, poor strategic decisions.
Data analysis is no less important than creating the survey itself. Effective analysis allows not only to answer the research questions posed, but also to discover new, previously unobvious aspects of the problem.
Tip 10: Feedback and interpretation of results
How to correctly interpret and use the collected information
Collecting data is only half the battle. Interpretation and application of this data for practical purposes is the second, no less important part. At this stage, you summarize the data, identify key points and draw conclusions that influence the further actions of your company.
Let’s imagine that a survey on employee satisfaction showed that the majority are not satisfied with the quality of coffee in the office. This information, at first glance, may seem insignificant. However, according to research, employee satisfaction is directly related to their productivity. Therefore, improving the quality of coffee can lead to an increase in overall operating efficiency.
Data interpretation must be based on sound methodologies and presented in an understandable manner. Using charts, graphs and other visual tools can greatly help in this process.
According to a Harvard Business Review study, the quality of data interpretation can influence final business decisions 84% of the time. This highlights the importance of correct analysis and interpretation of results.
So, running a successful survey is about more than just questions and answers. This is a complex process that requires a strategic approach, attention to detail and in-depth analysis. I hope these tips help you make your next survey not just a good survey, but an effective tool for achieving your business goals.
Statistics and Research
The Effectiveness of Well-Phramed Questions
A study published in the “Journal of Marketing Research” shows that the quality of survey questions can influence their effectiveness by 20-30%. This confirms our advice about the importance of choosing and phrasing questions correctly.
The influence of design on responses
A number of studies in psychology and marketing confirm that the design and design of a survey can influence the level of respondent engagement and the quality of the data obtained. For example, statistics from the Behavioral Science & Policy Journal show a 15-25% increase in response completeness when using an attractive design.
The importance of anonymity
A study in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes shows that guarantees of anonymity and confidentiality can increase the honesty of responses by 20%.
According to SurveyMonkey, surveys launched midweek (Tuesday-Thursday) receive 17% more responses than surveys launched on the weekend.
These studies and statistics support the effectiveness of the methods and approaches I recommend in this article. They are not only theoretically sound, but also practically tested, making them reliable tools for creating and analyzing surveys.
There are no small details in creating a successful online survey: from choosing the right target audience to analyzing the results, each stage has its own significant role. In this article, I’ve presented 10 key tips to help you create an effective survey and collect quality data for further analysis.
The target audience: Understanding who your target audience is will allow you to take their interests and needs into account when composing your questions.
Selection and formulation of questions: Qualitative questions are the key to obtaining useful data. There shouldn’t be too many of them, but each one should be as informative as possible.
Decoration and design: Design elements are not just decoration, but also a factor influencing the quality and quantity of responses.
Testing: Don’t launch a survey without testing its effectiveness with a small sample.
Data collection tools: Use the tools that best suit your tasks and needs.
Guarantees of anonymity and confidentiality: These factors directly affect the quality of responses and the credibility of your survey.
Mobile optimization: Taking into account modern realities, your survey should be convenient for completion on mobile devices.
Timing: The launch time and duration of the survey influence the level of respondent engagement.
Analysis of results: Collecting data is only half the task. You need to be able to analyze them.
Feedback and interpretation of results: The information received must not only be taken into account, but also correctly interpreted for further use.
In conclusion, I would like to say that a quality survey is not only about well-thought-out questions and beautiful design, but also about deep analysis of the data obtained. This is a complex process that requires attention to detail at every stage. So if you want to get the most out of your surveys, each of the tips listed will be extremely helpful.