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Ten Tips for Creating Online Surveys
that Get Results (Pt 1)

With survey software you can easily create and post an online survey. However, posting a really good online survey takes skill and time. Here are some tips to help you post more effective online surveys:

Have clear goals. Who needs what and why? What should happen following the collection of data?Write down your goals, and as you design the survey, refer to your goals to make sure you will get the information you need.

Avoid mission creep. Don't let your colleagues insert questions that are unrelated to your goals.

Compose an effective invitation. Tell participants in broad terms what your goals are and who is sponsoring the project. Promising anonymity will increase response rates.

Obtain a good email list. If you purchase a list, ask if the list includes the right types of companies and people with the right titles. When did they last update it? A survey about computer systems should use lists of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and information technology directors and managers, not marketing executives.

Less is more. Ask meaningful questions, but design a questionnaire that people can complete in five to eight minutes. Survey fatigue will cause people to drop out or check any answer just to finish.

Avoid two-part questions as the responses will be meaningless. Either response is ambiguous if you ask, "In 2014 will you increase the hours that part-timers work and purchase health insurance for these part-timers (yes/no)?"

Add text to define numerical scales. For example, "Rate from one to five the experience you had at our restaurant where one is very disappointing and five is outstanding. Use a similar scale in subsequent rating questions to avoid confusion.

Avoid loaded questions that attempt to mask your real goal. Political surveys sometimes preface fundraising pitches with surveys that contain loaded questions, such as, "Do you agree that Obama Care will shutter many small businesses?"

Keep it simple. Avoid overly lengthy or complicated questions, for instance, questions that ask you to rate or evaluate each of 20 factors from one to five. Many participants will assign any answer just to finish the question.

Test the survey several times, providing different answers each time. Then ask your colleagues to test the survey. Are the questions clear and complete? If you have skip questions, are the various pathways logical? How long does it take to complete the survey in a thoughtful way?

Stay tuned next month for additional survey tips.

Our online surveys help companies understand
their customers, markets and competitors.

Market Intelligence for Growing Companies © July, 2013

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