Is there a perfect survey length? How long is too long?
What is the point where respondents drop off? Is less really more?
We look at all of these questions in this article as we discuss keeping your survey to a reasonable length. Here’s how to use the right length to get the most responses.
Only Ask What You Need
Let’s say you want to ask your customers questions about several of your products, how they feel about your customer service and if they’re interested in a new product you’re thinking about launching.
Before you start creating a survey with all of these questions, ask yourself which one of these questions you are prepared to act on in the next few months.
Then, ask about just this one. That’s right, create your survey around one goal.
While you may have several questions in your survey, you want to keep it goal-centered and stick to one topic.
Then, in the future, you can send out a survey about one of your other topics.
By keeping your survey to a reasonable length, you’ll have more responses.
Brevity is a good thing not only in the number of survey questions, but in question length. (tweet this)
People today have a short attention span. If they have to read your question that spans two long sentences, they are more apt to drop out than if the question was one short sentence.
Short and simple is the way to go when crafting your questions.
Watch Out for Repeats
Read and re-read your survey before you send it out. Enlist family and friends to look it over, too.
Make sure you aren’t repeating yourself or asking the same question in different ways. Repeat-questions just increase your length.
Complete the Survey Before Sending
It’s a good idea to test drive your survey before sending.
Create your survey, sit down in front of your computer and pretend you are the respondent. Carefully read and answer each question, thinking about whether it’s really necessary.
Time the survey so you know how long it takes start to finish. Notice if you feel like dropping out before finishing. If so, ask yourself if the survey is too long, or if the question is wordy and confusing.
Be Upfront with People
Since you’ve taken your own survey, you know how long it takes to complete.
If it takes two minutes, tell them. If it takes 15 minutes, you want to let them know. It’s not a good idea to surprise respondents as they begin taking the test.
You can bet that people who think they’re taking a short survey are likely to drop out at the five-minute mark.
Set the expectations upfront. Then watch your response rates. If you find your customers are more likely to complete a four-minute survey than they are a seven-minute survey, plan accordingly in the future.
Short, focused surveys with just one objective tend to get the best response rates.
As you create your questions, do it with the customer in mind. You really want to know what they think, so respect their time and only send specific surveys. After all, you can always send another one at a later date.
Bottom line, your survey should take no longer than five minutes to complete. Time is a precious commodity, and you don’t want to take advantage of it.
This means you want to include less than 10 questions as a general guideline to improve your response rates.
Your customers will appreciate a shorter survey that’s quick to complete, and you’ll experience fewer drop outs.
Another benefit is that when you send additional surveys in the future, your customers know you appreciate their time, so they’ll be more apt to answer surveys down the road as well.
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Image: William Iven