CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUL. 05, 2014
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How to Increase the Success Rate of Your Online Surveys

There is more to an online survey than coming up with effective questions.

Other aspects of the process are equally important and may determine the success of your ability to gather customer feedback. Components that are often overlooked when creating an online survey include the following:

  • Establishing goals
  • Vendor vs. personal hosting
  • Testing the survey before it goes live
  • Measuring the results

This article highlights each variable above and how to address common issues related to online surveys.

Defining Clear Survey Goals

When you sit down to plan your survey, your first task is to determine whether or not you need help launching your campaign. If you need to ask hundreds or thousands of customers about their preferences and you want accuracy within 5% or less, then you should spend money on hiring a good research firm. There is enough complexity and skill involved in running this sort of survey that experts are needed.

However, if you sense that customers are responding poorly to some part of your business; for example, customer service, and your goal is to get your customers to vent in useful ways, then running your own survey probably will work fine. The question is what level of precision you need from your results. In most cases, extreme precision is not required. It is enough for you to offer your customers the opportunity to speak out about existing services or new products.

Should I Use a Vendor Or Host The Entire Survey?

When you have picked one or two goals for your survey, the next step is to consider tools. You either can host the software or use a vendor. For small businesses and personal surveys, it is recommended to use a vendor. This will reduce the complexity of your first survey and help you to focus on your goals, the quality of your questions, and other issues apart from technology.

These days, vendors are equipped with tools that allow individuals to customise their survey. This includes logos, themes and page layout. On the other hand, choosing to host an online survey requires hiring developers or IT specialists to handle the technical components of hosting, programming and coding. If your business has a fully functional IT department, it is best to go with this option.

Testing Your Survey

Testing your survey is a great way to understand how it will perform before it goes live. The size of a testing group should be at least 5-8 customers. While you can test your survey online, it probably will work best in person with a printout of the survey. Your goal is to understand how your customers are likely to respond to each question, the inner dialogue that will be triggered by reading each of your questions. This dialogue is impossible to capture online. Instead, you need to be able to ask your test audience how they responded to each question, what words, phrases, and sentences confused them, what worked and what failed.

Testing also is critical because you should never change your survey once it is put up and advertised. Changing questions in mid-survey will distort your results, creating two surveys. Your goal is to ensure that the results you get the first time are adequate for your needs.

Measure Your Results

Instead of accurate results within a margin of error, you want to find strong responses that indicate a solid set of your customers respond in a particular way. You also want to find the unexpected responses; for example, customer comments that raise issues you have not considered. If you have designed, written, and tested your survey well, you will find that your results are often very clear in their message.

To conclude, putting together an online survey requires careful attention to the individual components that make up the entire process. A successful online survey is one that helps you gain new insights; therefore, you should be open to both positive and negative feedback. Good luck!

How has launching online surveys helped your website or company? Let us know what you think.

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