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How to Create an Effective Survey

Updated on February 5, 2014

Surveys for business

Surveys can give you better understanding of what your customers want, and how they experience your company. Surveys are very easy to create, and they can give you significant insights. However, the survey will benefit your organization only if it is effective, user-friendly and gives you the information you need. All of these tips are designed to increase the response rate and the usefulness of your survey.

Clear goals

Have a clear idea of the information you want. Just asking "how was your experience?" Will not give you much information to work with. Asking "How was your experience with our sales team?" is more specific and will deliver more actionable information. You can certainly ask about the respondent's overall experience, but the survey should mostly give you specific information that can be used in marketing, sales and strategic decision-making. Consider the insights you would like from your respondents, and structure the survey to deliver it.

Question wording

Wording questions well is important for any survey. Keeping your questions concise will reduce the risk a respondent will misconstrue or misunderstand them. Questions should be as short and clear as possible. Asking “when did you purchase this product?” is better than asking “do you remember when you purchased this product?” The second can have several answers. Even if you have a specific set of responses to choose from, there may be unnecessary confusion. You want the survey to be accessible and usable by many people, with a variety of communication styles.



Keep the survey short. Nobody wants to fill out a lengthy survey. The longer the survey, the fewer responses you will receive. Stick with the most important and most interesting insights you would like to have from the respondent, and leave it at that.

A little information from a lot of people is more useful than a lot of information from just one or a few people. A little information from many sources gives you a greater sample set of information to make decisions with. If you wish to dig deeper and really explore how a handful of customers respond to your products, there are other methods of doing that, but the survey is better for large numbers of respondents.

Question types

Mix different types of questions together. A series of multiple choice questions can get very boring and tedious to fill out. Use variety, such as multiple choice, short text response, a scale of one to ten, checkboxes, etc. For some parts of the survey you can ask a question, and for others you can make a request such as "Please rate on a scale of one to ten..." These details help to make the survey more interesting for the user, and keep your response rate up.

Qualifiable and quantifiable information

Ask for both subjective and objective information. There is a use for qualitative information such as satisfaction or how a person feels, as well as information that is more quantitative such as the number of units purchased. A customer who is "very satisfied" after purchasing one unit is very different from one who is only "somewhat satisfied" after purchasing 50 units of your product. Receiving both types of answers from each respondent will make your study more useful.



Categorizing respondents and demographics

Ask questions that make respondents categorize themselves. Ask specific questions that help to divide up the respondents, such as amount purchased, the types of products or services they purchased, how they became aware of your company, etc.

These questions deliver important and actionable marketing information. They can also help you to understand each customer's unique perspective. Customers who find you through a search engine may have different expectations than customers referred to you by a colleague.

In addition, demographic information such as geographical location, income, age and gender will help you see who your customers are and how better to reach them.


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    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 6 years ago from New York City

      Thanks, Sameer. Glad you liked it.

    • sameer-speaks profile image

      sameer-speaks 6 years ago from Mumbai, India

      Crisp and clear explanation of concepts of surveys. I think some information on types of survey questionnaire would really help in practical understanding of the concept.

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 6 years ago from New York City

      That's great, Page. Thanks for coming, and best of luck!

    • PageC profile image

      PageC 6 years ago

      Great tips for creating services -- as a budding entrepreneur, I find these very helpful.Thank you!