How To Create the Perfect Survey

are you listening to your best customers?Creating a survey is an easy, affordable, effective way to dig into your customer’s psyche, find out what they want, and discover exactly what they think of your brand.

So why does it seem next to impossible to get people to take your survey in the first place?

There is a science to survey creation that is often overlooked by business owners seeking insight into customer behavior. Without the right building blocks, customers won’t take the time to answer your survey questions, and you’ll remain in the dark as to what they want.     

But by getting strategic with your survey creation and following a specific set of rules, it’s possible to increase participation and gain invaluable answers that will direct your next marketing move.

Is a survey what you really need?

First, determine if a survey is the best way to get the answers you need from your customers.

  • If you’re looking for the answer to one specific question, a poll might be a better choice.
  • If you’re looking for general feedback about the customer’s overall experience with your company, asking for a review could be most effective.

Once you decide that a survey is the best format to get the insight you want, narrow down your purpose in creating the survey.

Are you creating this survey to…

  • Evaluate customer satisfaction?
  • Find out more about the customer experience?
  • Determine employee needs?
  • Create customer profiles?
  • Plan an event?

Choosing a specific reason for creating the survey will help you create more targeted questions, which in turn will generate answers you can use to make better marketing decisions.

Asking the right questions

The questions you ask in your survey have a direct impact on how many people will take your survey, complete your survey, and fulfill your Call to Action at the end of the survey.

Because of this, it’s important to follow some best practices when deciding which questions to include.

  • The more questions you ask, the lower the response rate will be. Keep your survey between 10-12 questions in length. It shouldn’t take the customer more than 8 minutes to complete the survey.
  • Use mostly close-ended questions that are easy to answer and easy to analyze. Limit open-ended questions, which feel longer, are more labor-intensive, and more difficult to analyze, to 3 per survey.
  • Ask your most important questions first, and make the first question easy to answer.
  • Ask specific questions, i.e. “How can we improve the taste of our product?” as opposed to “How can we improve our product?”
  • Avoid double-barreled questions like “How did you like the venue and the entertainment?” Ask one thing at a time.
  • Avoid using jargon or abbreviations in your questions.
  • Save profile/demographic info for the very end, and don’t make these questions mandatory.

When to survey

The top three times for creating a survey are…

  1. As neededYou can create and distribute surveys as the need arises. For instance, prior to a new product launch or after a big event.
  1. Interaction-basedYou can also commit to surveying your audience after an interaction, like after they make their first purchase.
  1. Regularly scheduledYou may want to create a quarterly survey, a seasonal survey, or another regularly-scheduled survey that will keep you updated on the changing needs and wants of your customers.

After the survey

Once a user has finished taking your survey, don’t leave them hanging!

While you’re busy analyzing the data they’ve just provided you with, they’re off to check Facebook – unless you take advantage of the opportunity while you still have their attention.

  • Create a closing page or thank you page with an incentive or specific Call to Action. Here you can provide a special offer or discount for taking the survey, plus tell the user how and when they can see the survey results. This will keep them engaged with your brand long after they’ve answered the last survey question.
  • As survey responses roll in, be patient! 50% of responses come back the first day, and about 88% come back within one week.
  • Once you have collected your results, use the statistics and data to create an action plan based on those results. After all, there is no point in surveying your audience if you don’t listen to their answers! Use what you learn to make strategic changes to better serve your customers and keep them coming back.

Surveys are a powerful tool for digging deep into the customer mind. Remember to survey around a specific goal, keep your questions short and simple, limit the number of open-ended questions you ask, and direct customers to a closing page with an incentive.

By following these best practices, you will dramatically increase the number of survey participants, which in turn will give you the data you need to make smarter, more cost-effective marketing decisions.