How often as consumers do we get pestered and harassed about filling out surveys? Unfortunately, all the time; especially for someone whose wife is addicted to Amazon.com. After I get myself out of the dog house, let’s talk about the fundamentals of good survey’s.
So, what makes a good survey? It’s just a bunch of questions, right? We’ll like everything, it’s a little more complicated than that. If you want the completely unbiased opinions of your customers, creating a survey is more scientific than you thought.
Questions to avoid
When writing a survey’s, it is of the utmost importance to remain unbiased. You don’t want your verbiage to sway someone’s opinion one way or another. Unless of course you’re the Devil.
- Double-barreled Questions – Questions like these include “Do you think Ford makes the safest and longest lasting cars?” or “Do you think Blue Dog is the greatest and most reliable merchant provider in the universe?” What if I think Ford makes the safest but not the longest lasting? You are technically asking two separate questions here (hence the double barrel metaphor). Break them up into multiple questions.
- Leading Questions – Consider the follow question: Yes or no, do you think concerned animal owners should vaccinate their pets? This question will put people who don’t vaccinate their pets on the defense by implying they don’t care for their pets. Instead, ask Should pets be required to be vaccinated?
- Loaded Questions – Think about this question: Do you enjoy shot-gunning beers? What if I’m a communist and don’t like beer? What if I like beer but don’t like shot-gunning them? Survey questions should allow respondents to completely answer.
- Non-exhaustive Questions – Like loaded questions, these questions don’t allow the recipient of the survey to be accurate. What percentage of your income do you spend on food? 10 – 30%, 31% – 60%, 61 – 100%. What if you are a reptilian shapeshifter and don’t need to eat therefore you only spend 0% on food.
- Unavoidable Questions – All your questions should have a “prefer not to answer” options to avoid pressuring your respondents.
After learning what questions to avoid, now time to learn some good survey practices. Nothing is worse than taking a survey and about half-way you start to panic, “How long is this survey going to take!?” It’s always a good idea to include either a percentage bar or an ‘estimated amount of time’ to prevent survey fatigue.
Another way to stave off survey fatigue is to save the boring questions, AKA demographics, to the end of the survey. By that time, they have invested so much time they are highly unlikely to get bored and stop at this point. These questions include things like: How old are you? Are you male or female?
In addition, an important component is transparency. If your survey is not going to be anonymous, then make it clear. Same thing for anonymity. Explain your goals for the survey. You do not want your respondents to think they are being tricked or manipulated.
A question you might be wondering, aside from the avoided questions, what types should I use instead? That depends on what you want to learn from your survey; qualitative or quantitative. If you are looking for detailed information, use open-ended questions. This is best for a low amount of surveys. Imagine reading 300 long answer surveys! If you are looking for larger market information, use answers that can be numerically measured.
Distributing your survey can also depend on the type of data you are looking for. Send it out to individuals who fit your demographic, or use mass distributions like SurveyMonkey to email recipients. Just remember when looking for quantitative data you need a very large amount of responses to create an accurate picture of the market.
A great survey has a planned structure, with question topics flowing logically, with quality and unbiased questions that have a distinct ending point.