online survey

3 Ways To Design A Survey That Users Will Love To Complete

Survey Tips

You’ve probably completed your fair share of surveys, and you’ve most likely ignored an equal amount.

Ask yourself why you completed some and ignored others. Perhaps some interested you while others didn’t. Or, maybe a company offered you a perk for taking the survey.

To help you get your surveys returned and not ignored, we look at five ways to design a survey that users will love to complete.

Let’s look at how to encourage users to complete your survey and not walk away frustrated.

#1: Keep It Short

The best way to design a survey that users will love to complete is to make it short and to the point. (tweet this)

Limit your survey questions, and you reduce your drop off rates.

When it comes to crafting your survey, focus on what you really want to know.

For example, do you want to know how they liked your product, what they thought of your event or how they like your customer service?

While it would be nice to know the answers to all of these questions, and more, you don’t need to know it all at once. Only ask the few questions you are prepared to take action on immediately.

Your survey respondents are doing you a favor, so do them a favor and make your survey easy to finish quickly.

Studies show that the ideal number of questions is less than 12 to prevent customers from abandoning your survey. Try and stick to 3-5 questions for the best results.

It’s also a good idea to test your survey so you know how long it takes to complete. Spell this out for your respondents so they know what to expect.

#2: Don’t Ask Leading Questions

Your customers aren’t naïve. They know when you’re trying to push your agenda, and if they encounter this, they just might abandon your survey.

Craft your questions so that they are neutral. You don’t want to lead respondents to an answer. Consider these three scenarios:

  1. Please rate product X on a scale of one to five.
  2. Tell us what you think about product X. (This asks them to type out why.)
  3. Tell us the reasons why product X is the best on the market. (You provide check boxes of items that show why you think it’s great.)

Scenario number one and two are neutral. Scenario number three obviously leads the customer and just might irritate those who don’t think your product is great.

#3: Limit Your Use of Matrix Questions

Matrix questions are the ones that require respondents to fill in little circles.

Why do these questions make people crazy? Respondents can get confused with these as overdone matrices are complicated and hard to follow.

This also hurts you as your customers may abandon the survey altogether or just choose to make a pretty pattern as they mark your circles.

If you must use a matrix, limit your header options to five so it isn’t so complicated.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to design a survey that users will love to complete, let’s look at some final tips for maximizing your responses:

  • Let your customers know the survey is coming. Tell them why you’re sending it and how you’ll use their results. Tell them the survey is confidential.
  • Give your respondents time to complete the survey. If sending online, one week’s time is generally sufficient.
  • Design your survey so it’s easy to read. Make your sections clear and pay attention to the flow from one section or question to another.
  • Send a reminder during the week-long survey period. Thank those who competed the survey and remind others of the deadline. Consider offering respondents an incentive for participating. It could be an outright perk, or you could enter them in a drawing after they complete your survey.

Finally, if you plan to send more surveys in the future, you want to let your customers know their opinions matter.

Shortly after the survey, send them an email outlining the responses and the actions you are going to take. Thank the participants again.

Follow these steps, and you can bet they’ll be there for you the next time you want to survey them.

Surveys help you make the best decisions for your business. Are you ready to get started with your free Survey Town trial? Start with your free account today, and you can upgrade at any time.

Images: Brooke Cagle



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When Size Matters – How Many Questions Should Your Survey Have?

Survey Tips

Size matters in a lot of things – tall mountains, big lattes, cars that seat eight, waterfalls and more.

But, have you ever wondered when size matters in a survey? Have you ever wondered, “How many questions should your survey have?”

In this article, we look at the answer to these questions and explain why size matters when it comes to the number of questions in your survey.

How Many Questions Are Enough?

Short surveys have a better response rate. Additionally, surveys that stick to one topic also have clearer, more accurate responses.

When it comes to the number of questions, you want to aim for a five-minute completion time. If you go any longer than that, you’ll lose your respondents’ interest.

To keep your survey right at or under five minutes, ask no more than 10 questions. In fact, we suggest you aim for around five.

Craft Your Questions

Now that you know to keep your survey questions under 10 and ideally around five, it can be hard to decide what to ask.

The best practice is to first outline your survey objectives. (tweet this) For example, if you want to know what your customers think about your newest product, don’t ask them a question about the service they had at their last visit.

Keeping to one objective helps you stay on task and ask just enough questions to meet your goal. This helps you ditch the irrelevant questions and stick to what you need to know.

By keeping your survey questions to the minimum amount possible, you also encourage more respondents to complete the survey and not abandon it.

Final Thoughts

Finally, here are a few more best practices:

  • Don’t ask anything you aren’t prepared to take action on shortly after the survey.
  • Don’t ask misleading questions. Be clear and to the point.
  • Stay away from biased questions.
  • Ask only one question per question. Sometimes surveyors will stick two questions in one, and this only confuses respondents.

If you have several objectives or topics you’d like to survey, it’s a good idea to create a survey for each of them. Spread your surveys out over time so you aren’t bombarding your customers.

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Images: Wil Stewart




Why Bias Is The Biggest Survey Mistake

Survey Tips

What is survey bias?

Survey bias includes any error that occurs due to the design of your survey. Bias can occur when you write leading questions. It can occur when you survey the wrong population or one that isn’t equally representative.

Today we pose the question – “Why bias is the biggest survey mistake?”

We’ve put together a list of ways bias is detrimental to your survey and how it can skew your results so your survey is worthless.

Researcher Bias

When the person conducting the survey has an outcome in mind, researcher bias can sneak in.

While we all have our view points, researcher bias is a huge mistake and can affect the way questions are worded and the way results are interpreted.

The purity of your survey is important, so take steps to avoid researcher bias. Involve several people in the writing and review of your survey questions before sending it out.

Bad Sample

A bad sampling of the population is another reason bias is the biggest survey mistake because it doesn’t give you a representative view.

You’ll note in the most recent political polling and surveys that there is always a margin of error. This is to be expected, but you want it to be as small as possible.

From the beginning, focus on your sampling and make sure you survey a broad population for the best results.

Biased Questions

The final way bias enters into surveys causing faulty responses is through leading questions. Be sure your question doesn’t lead respondents to an answer by avoiding biased survey questions.

Asking a double barreled question is another way to introduce bias. Don’t ask two questions in one. Measure one item per question.

To Conclude

Bias is the biggest survey mistake you can make. (tweet this) To avoid it, take time when writing your questions and make sure you send your survey to a representative population.

It is helpful to involve others when creating your survey as they can review it with an open mind.

Surveys help you make the best decisions for your business. Are you ready to get started with your free Survey Town trial? Start with your free account today, and you can upgrade at any time.

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How Many Questions Your Online Survey Should Have

Survey Tips

You’re working hard on your survey, and you want to be as thorough as possible.

But, suddenly, you notice you’ve created a lot of questions. Have you ever wondered how many are too many?

In this article, we look at how many questions your online survey should have for great results.

We’re going to highlight some tips for keeping your surveys short and focused while getting you the information you need.

Focus on One Objective

To get the best results for your survey, focus on one objective. (tweet this) Know exactly what you want to learn before crafting your questions.

For example, let’s say you want to know what customers think about your website because you’re thinking about building a new one. This would not be the time to throw in product questions.

Make sure your questions are specific and easily answerable. Keep away from biased, misleading or confusing questions.

If you want to know about other things, make another survey.

Keep Your Survey Short

With your clear objective in hand, craft your survey with as few questions as possible.

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all number of questions a survey should have, a good rule of thumb is to keep your survey short enough that the average person can complete it 5-10 minutes. This usually amounts to 10 questions or less.

Most of your customers will abandon surveys with too many questions – think more than 10. This is especially true if your questions are long and detailed. If they’re short and focused, you can often get away with a few more.

We do recommend keeping your questions short as respondents tend to abandon long-winded, complicated surveys.

Final Thoughts

Consider letting your respondents know upfront how many questions they can expect and how long you estimate it will take them to finish.

This lets them know your value not only their opinions, but their time.

Tell them why you are conducting your survey and let them know their opinions count.

No matter how many ultra-focused questions you decide to ask, offer survey respondents a small incentive for taking your survey, and you’ll find you just might have fewer dropouts.

Surveys help you make the best decisions for your business. Are you ready to get started with your free Survey Town trial? Start with your free account today, and you can upgrade at any time.

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The Top 7 Survey Question Mistakes

Survey Tips

Sending surveys is a great tool to help you gather feedback about your business, products or services and your staff.

With the availability of online software to send your surveys, it’s never been easier and more cost effective to gather data about your audience.

While you can create and distribute online surveys quite easily, you’ve got to put some thought into how you design and write a successful survey. It requires careful planning and thoughtfulness.

To help you create the most productive and data-rich surveys, we’ve put together the top 7 survey question mistakes to avoid.

#1: You Missed the Target

For the most accurate surveys, you want to select and sample the right target audience. If you don’t understand your target audience, it’s very hard to design an effective survey.

For example, let’s say your survey is about swimming lessons for children, and you randomly send the survey to your customers. You might hit childless people, the elderly or those whose kids are too old for swimming lessons.

You want to target the right audience, so you’d want to send the survey to people with young children. In other words, you need to send the survey to the decisions makers, otherwise the data you collect won’t mean much.

When you understand your target audience, you are more familiar with their basic attitudes and beliefs.  This can assist you in steering clear of offensive or even biased questions and help you pose the right ones.

Not only do you want to be cognizant of the data you are trying to collect, but you want to know enough to understand what information your respondents are capable of providing you.

#2: The Survey is Too Long

One study says humans have a shorter attention span than the common goldfish. While goldfish remain attentive for nine seconds, this study shows the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000 to around eight seconds now.

Why? You can probably blame the mobile phone.

We tell you this to encourage you to keep your survey short. Consider the respondent completing your survey on his phone while checking his Facebook feed at the same time on his laptop.

You want to maximize your responses, so you want to get right to the point quickly and in as few steps as possible.

Know what you want to learn from your survey respondents and ask only the information you absolutely need and will definitely use. Try and keep your surveys to just about five minutes. If you go over that time-frame, think about offering an incentive or reward.

#3: The Survey Questions are Biased

A survey that contains bias is basically useless when it comes to analyzing data.

What are biased questions? These are questions that lead your respondents to a particular answer. Most often, survey creators don’t intend to write leading questions, and this is a quite common mistake.

Biased questions can even prompt an answer that doesn’t reflect your respondent’s true feelings or opinions. (tweet this) When you ask loaded questions, they can confuse the respondent and often cause them to abandon a survey because they don’t want to provide the answer for fear it will give away personal data.

Biased questions can also be found in the double-barreled question. This is when you force your respondent to answer two questions at once. You want to write survey questions that measure only one thing.

#4: You Included Too Many Demographics

Another mistake is to begin your survey with too many demographic questions such as age, sex, income, education, number of children, email address and more.

You only want to ask demographic questions if your survey depends on it. For example, as in the survey we mentioned above, it would be important to know if your respondents had children.

In addition, if you are using logic in your survey, you can pose multiple demographic questions because you’ll take respondents to other areas of the survey based on their answer, and they won’t have to answer all of them.

Just be sure, again, that you really need the information. For example, if someone answered “no” to the “Do you have children question,” you could take them to another question that asks if they “care” for children (such as a grandparent).

Too many intrusive demographic questions can make your respondents uncomfortable and cause survey drop-out. Try asking your questions at the end of the survey. They’ll be more likely to answer after they’ve spent the time completing your survey.

#5: The Questions Include Negative Wording

Avoid posing questions with the word “not” in them. Your respondents may have trouble knowing what to answer if you use negative wording.

For example, you ask this question: “Do you agree or disagree that swimming lessons are not important for children?” Your possible answers are: agree, disagree, don’t know.

This is a difficult question to answer because first, it can’t be answered quickly, and second, it’s confusing.

You’re better off posing a question like this: “Do you think swimming lessons are important for children? Possible answers: yes, no, don’t know.

This question is easier on the eye and easier for your respondents to answer quickly.

#6: You Ask Unnecessary Questions

It’s incredibly easy when designing a survey to throw in every question for which you think you might need an answer. This is a huge mistake.

For example, if you really only need to know if your respondents think swimming lessons are important, just ask that question or a few related to it.

This might be the case if you’re trying to gauge your target market for their willingness to support a new swimming facility in the area.

Pose only the questions from which you’ll use the data to make a decision or take an action. (tweet this) Don’t ask questions that you won’t act on or don’t have the ability to act on.

#7: You Offer Too Many Choices

While it’s good to offer choices when asking multiple choice questions, you want to keep the possible answers to a realistic number.

Too many choices will confuse your respondents and complicate your data analysis. Keep your list of choices short and succinct.

Plan on offering people the ability to check the Other, please specify box. You might also include the option of don’t know, uncertain, or not applicable. Offering these choices keeps your respondents from getting frustrated when they don’t see their response in the multiple choice list.

To Conclude

If you avoid the top 7 survey question mistakes mentioned here, you’ll design a better survey.

You will find that you’ll receive more accurate data. Plus, your respondents will walk away from your survey feeling good about helping you and your company. They won’t feel frustrated at a poorly-designed survey.

Your respondents will be glad they took the time to answer your survey properly.

Surveys help you make the best decisions for your business. Are you ready to get started with your free Survey Town trial? Start with your free account today, and you can upgrade at any time.

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The Number Of Respondents Needed For A Statistically Accurate Survey

Survey Tips

When building your survey, there are a number of things to keep in mind including the type of survey you want to conduct, which survey tool to use, what your population will be, and which questions to ask. As if you don’t already have enough to figure out, you should also be considering what sample size you’ll need to achieve statistical confidence.

What is statistical confidence? It’s the knowledge that your survey is statistically significant, that it will actually represent the population as a whole.

You want to get enough completed surveys so you know it is an accurate representation.

In this article, we look at the number of respondents needed for a statistically accurate survey. Here are the steps to take:

Know Your Population

The first step is figuring out the size of the population you want to survey. For example, if you want to survey all of the women who attend your local college, determine the size of that whole population.

Decide on Your Margin of Error

More technically speaking, you want to know your confidence interval or margin of error. This goes back to that statistical confidence. How sure do you want to be that your responses will represent the survey population?

In standard surveys, the widely accepted confidence interval is 5%. We suggest aiming for nothing higher than 10%.

Pick Your Confidence Level

When it comes to your confidence level, we’re talking about how accurately your population is represented by your sample.

In standard surveys, the confidence level is 95%. This means that you’d get the same results 95% of the time even if you chose different samples. Go on up to 99% if you’d like, but don’t go below 90%.

Set Your Sample Size

How many responses do you need to get back for an accurate survey? This is not the same as the number of people who take your survey. It’s how many you need to get returned.

Estimate Response Rate

This involves some guesswork on your part. But you have to make a good estimate in order to decide how many surveys you need to send. A standard response rate would be between 10-15%.

But, if you’re offering an incentive for completing your survey, you can expect a higher response rate. Consider the college women mentioned above – offer them a coupon for a free meal, and your response rate should be higher.

Doing the Math

Now it’s time to do the math. You can use a handy calculator like the one at the National Statistical Service, or you can use some simple math.

To know how many people you should send your survey to, you want to take your sample size (how many responses you need back) divided by the response rate.

For example, if you have a sample of 1,000 and an estimated response rate of 10%, you would divide 1000 by .10. Your survey group should be around 10,000.

Remember that your response rate may affect the number of people you need to send your survey to.

If your response rate is higher, you might not need to ask as many people to complete your survey. In the above example, if your sample size is 1,000, but your response rate is 25%, you only need to send your survey to 4,000 people.

Final Thoughts

Before you start working on the number of respondents needed for a statistically accurate survey, make sure to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What will I do with the data I collect? If I need to compare subgroups, do I have enough people for a comparison?
  • How much error can I tolerate? Do I need to be very precise? Consider the presidential polls of late – their margin of error is usually +/- 3 percentage points. How exact do you need to be?
  • What is my budget? Will it allow for an exceptionally large group of respondents?
  • How is my confidence level? Do I know if the true population value falls within my level of confidence?

While there are many variables to consider, the basic formula of sample size divided by response rate should suffice for most surveys. (tweet this) If you have any questions about survey size for a statistically accurate survey, feel free to ask them below.

Surveys help you make the best decisions for your business. Are you ready to get started with your free SurveyTown trial? Start with your free account today, and you can upgrade at any time.

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How Often Should You Survey Your Clients and Customers?

Survey Tips

One of the most common questions people ask us is, “How often should you survey your clients and customers?”

This question doesn’t always have a straightforward answer. Depending on your industry, and the survey, it could be every few months or once a year. Let’s look at some common scenarios to help you decide how often to survey your clients and customers.

The Customer Satisfaction Survey

This survey is one you send to your most active customers to help maintain a relationship with them. This survey is most successful when sent twice per year.

This type of survey lets your customers know you appreciate their loyalty, and their purchases, and you want them to take an active part in your business by providing feedback and input.

The Survey Sent After the Purchase

Whether you’ve just completed a project for a client, or a customer has purchased a product from you, you’ll want to send a survey to get your customer’s thoughts on your service or product.

The goal of this survey is two-fold. First, you want to know what they think, and second, you want to continue building a relationship so they come back to you in the future.

This type of survey is best sent very shortly after the project completion or product purchase. Don’t wait too long as people’s memories are fleeting. But, do wait enough time for your client or customer to use your product or service.

Final Thoughts

There are other types of surveys – for example, surveys sent out after an event or training event, market research or bench marking surveys. The event surveys are best sent after the event, and the other types should be sent at times relevant to what’s going on in your industry.

Before sending your survey, have a strategy that involves how often you’ll send surveys and what you intend to gain from them.

Lastly, we recommend waiting about two months in-between survey sends so you don’t overwhelm your customers and clients. (tweet this)

Surveys help you make the best decisions for your business. Are you ready to get started with your free Survey Town trial? Start with your free account today, and you can upgrade at any time.

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Nextiva: Write Usable Biased Problems and Question skewing and modeling for political modelling

Survey Tips

You’re ready to start your first survey and you know what questions you want to ask—that’s a terrific start.

But, did you know that the way you ask your survey questions can affect your usable results, which you believed to be harmless? Did you know, in many cases, that you can change the outcome of your survey, without skewing it, from a good, successful survey to a bad one by writing biased survey questions?

Today, we’re going to look at 10 essential examples of biased survey questions. We’re going to talk about how you can inadvertently create well-written survey questions that don’t alter your survey respondent’s perspectives.

You want to pose questions that are answered accurately and without any bias. You want to abandon the chance to lead anyone toward an answer or confuse them in the process.  Do not forget, this is a skill in itself

Before we talk about the 10 examples of biased survey questions, let’s look at the biased survey.

What is a Biased Survey?

A biased survey is one that encompasses errors caused by the design of the survey and its questions. It’s important for you, the survey creator, to create survey questions that don’t change the survey’s outcome.

Things to consider are the way questions are worded, the structure of the survey, and even its design, style and colors.

A biased survey can lead to survey response bias and higher than normal drop-out rates.

Now, let’s view 10 examples of survey bias.

#1: The Leading Question

One of the biggest mistakes survey creators make is creating a question that leads respondents to give the “correct” answer. Leading questions negate your survey results, so you want to stay away from them at all costs.

You don’t want to word a survey question in a way that will sway your reader to a particular side. To do this, you must use neutral wording. Here are some examples of leading and biased questions:

  • Leading question: How dumb is (insert politician) when it comes to foreign policy? This immediately brings a negative connotation to the question. Instead, you might ask the question: Please describe your politician’s position on foreign policy.
  • Leading question: Should concerned dog owners vaccinate their pets? By using the word concerned, you put pet owners who don’t vaccinate their pets on the defensive, thus creating bias. Instead, ask it this way: Do you think dogs should be required to be vaccinated?

#2: The Loaded Question

With the loaded question, you basically force people into answering the question in a particular way. You keep them from explaining their own opinions. The loaded question has the potential to lead to survey drop-out and unclear results. Here is an example:

  • Loaded question: Where do you like to party? Well, what if the respondents don’t like to party? What if they are homebodies? Instead, you could ask it like this: What do you like to do on weekend evenings?

Avoid loaded questions so you get the most truthful survey answers.

#3: The Double-Barreled Question

Another very common survey mistake, the double-barreled question, forces your respondents to answer two questions at once.

You’ll easily destroy your survey results with the double-barreled question. You want each one of your survey questions to only answer one thing. One subject per question is the rule for accurate, measurable surveys. Here is an example:

  • Double-barreled question: How happy or unhappy are you with the rate of current school board funding and the common-core curriculum? Wow! This is asking a lot of your respondents. Some might answer both questions, but many others will concentrate on the one that means the most to them. Instead, you could ask it like this: How happy or unhappy are you with the rate of current school board funding? And, next question: What do you think of the common core?

Always break questions into singles so your survey is succinct and measurable.

#4: The Absolute Question

Yes or no answers can keep respondents from leaving unbiased feedback. (tweet this) It creates a bias because you aren’t getting the whole story with this type of question.

The absolute question usually only has the option of a yes or no answer. It also commonly includes words such as all, always, ever, and every.

Consider this question: Do you always shower before bed? The obvious answer for most people is no. You’ve basically backed respondents into a corner.

But, what if you sell shower gel, and you want to know specific showering habits for marketing purposes?

This is where you want to offer respondents some options. You might ask the question this way: How many nights a week do you shower before bed?

You’ve turned an inflexible, biased question into one that provides you with valuable information. Your answer options might be: every day, 5-6 days, 3-4 days, 1-2 days, usually shower in the morning.

#5: The Unclear Question

You want clear, concise answers, right? Then you need to pose clear, concise questions that avoid terms your respondents might not know.

Tech jargon and acronyms create bias because only some of the people in your audience know what you are talking about. It’s important to make it as easy as possible for someone to answer your question.

For example, you want to know how many of your survey respondents own a smartphone, yet you ask them if they have an iPhone. Just because you carry an iPhone doesn’t mean everyone else does. You might ask: Do you have a smartphone (i.e., iPhone, Android, Windows, etc.).

On the flip side, if you are surveying aeronautical engineers, feel free to ask technical questions.

The bottom line? Know your audience and avoid any question that makes people uncomfortable because you’ve shown bias or asked them something they don’t know.

#6: The Multiple Answer Question

Consider your multiple choice questions. When posing them, you want to make sure that there is only one answer.

For example, what if in the question above about showering, you offered these choices: every day, 5-6 days, 4-5 days, 3-4 days and 1-3 days. By using the same numbers over again, you’ve made it quite difficult to get an accurate answer.

#7: Prefer Not to Answer

It’s a good idea to always include “prefer not to answer” in your answer choices if at all possible. Many people will drop-out of a survey if they are uncomfortable with a particular question.

#8: Include All Possible Answers

Not including all possible answers also creates bias. If you are unsure of all the options, you can always add “other” as a choice.

#9: Use Accurate Scales

When asking people to rate your question, you want to offer options ranging from bad to excellent to avoid bias. (tweet this)

For example, you ask people about their experience with your customer service team. If you leave off “poor” as an option, you’ve biased the survey. A great example of just the opposite is the NPS survey question, which has a standardized question with a rating of 1-10 no matter where or when it is served to visitors.

#10: Survey Structure

The way you structure your questions from one to the other can also bias respondents. Study and test your survey to root out poor structure. For example, ask your more personal or in-depth questions at the end to avoid survey dropout.

Final Thoughts

You can avoid survey bias by using these examples of biased survey questions and making sure that your questions are clear, accurate, straight-forward and easy to answer.

This is the best way for you to get honest, thoughtful and accurate feedback from your survey respondents.

Surveys help you make the best decisions for your business. Are you ready to get started with your free SurveyTown trial? Start with your free account today, and you can upgrade at any time.

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