Monday, April 19, 2010

Successful Survey Tips: Catch Great Responses

This is the second post in a series of successful survey tips.  The previous article was all about preparing ourselves and inviting the respondent to participate.  In today's lesson Mr. Myiagi and Daniel try to catch a fly with chop sticks.  How appropriate is THAT?!  When you think about some of the lousy surveys you've taken (and maybe even given) in your life, you can see how the process could actually look like the video here:







  • Specific questions that yield specific answers. Ask just enough questions to make your decision – no more.  There is such a thing as question-creep.  Stay focused on your objective and collecting just the data that you need to make your decision.  It’s tempting to collect more information while you’re in the process of getting feedback, but there is also the risk of going off on a tangent that tires the respondent and reduces your completion rate.

  • Place the most important questions first – keep them short and easy to answer. Keep as many of your questions closed and quick and easy to answer.  This assures that even those that may drop out of the survey have given you the data that you need to make your decision.

  • Use specific numeric ranges whenever possible.  Because you’re trying to make a decision, you want to use specific numeric ranges such as 0-5, 6-10, more than 10 – instead of “never, sometimes, always”.

  • Keep your rating scales consistent within the survey.  If you’ve chosen to use a 7-point scale, stick with it.  It will help your respondent answer quickly and easily AND will make your results consistent and easy to tabulate.

  • Use engaging, conversational language – Use the same language as your audience.  If your brand is “fun” and “casual” don’t be afraid to use fun and casual language in your survey.  For example. “Which of the following best describes your experience with product X? (a) It’s the best thing since sliced bread …

  • Use open-ended questions strategically.  Open-ended responses are a double edged sword.  One the one hand, they give you the opportunity to tune into how the respondent thinks and feels about your product in their own words.  Open-ended responses are a goldmine of future copywriting language that you can use to emotionally involve your target audience by connecting with them in their own words.  On the other hand, they are often skipped over, trigger the respondent to leave the survey without finishing, and add significant cost to the analysis because they can be cumbersome to code. So, use open-ended questions only in those areas where you need to understand the deeper, emotional reasons for their answer to a closed-ended question.  For example, “Why do you say that?”  or “What is the one feature you would like to see in product X?”


What tips do you have to share about developing good and engaging questions?


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