In this video, learn what steps to take to create an effective survey: defining objectives, question wording, what to avoid, incentives, etc.
- [Instructor] Before we dive into creating a survey with Survey Monkey, it's important to have a plan of attack. In this movie, we'll explore some important steps you can take to ensure you get the best results from your survey. As we move from traditional survey methods to online methods, one truth remains the same, you get out what you put in. A survey can fall if it includes ill-defined objectives or poorly worded questions which could result in low response rates. So let's look at some techniques that can help you to overcome some of these pitfalls.
Number one, you have to clearly define your objectives. It is probably the most important thing before you even touch Survey Monkey to clearly define your objectives. You should be asking, "Why are we conducting this survey?" Everything will flow from the answer to the question including the method and questions you ask. You should also be asking, "What are key information needs "and how will we use this information "or what actions will we take based on "the information that we gather?" Your survey can be measured against these objectives.
Is the question necessary? Does it satisfy one of the objectives of our study? As you develop each question, ask yourself, "How will you use the responses to this question?" This process will help you separate the need to know from the nice to know. Also, keeping your objectives focused and specific will result in a questionnaire that is focused and specific. In the end, this will improve your response rate. Here's an example of a reasonable survey objective. The purpose of this survey is to understand the service needs of our customers and the extent to which we are satisfying those needs.
An objective like this will keep you on track and ultimately reduce the length of the final questionnaire. Experts recommend that your questionnaires should have a logical and coherent flow. If you think of your survey as a type of conversation, you'll typically move from one topic to another in a logical fashion. As you may have experienced, a conversation that jumps around from topic to topic in a random fashion can be very arduous. A conversation will also typically move from the general to the more specific, therefore, you might consider putting your general and non-threatening questions up front.
This will serve to draw respondents into the survey and help to maintain the integrity of the whole survey. We also often see surveys that begin with demographic questions. Some feel that they can be somewhat intrusive at the beginning so you might want to think about leaving these types of questions for the very end of your survey. Alright, let's move on now to question wording. As you develop your survey, you should be continually asking yourself "Will the respondent understand this question?" Is the language appropriate for the respondent? Always remember to keep it simple and avoid complicated language.
As well avoid ambiguous and vague wording. Ask yourself if there is a common agreement in the terms that you're using. For example, we might use in the past year have you contacted customer support. Do we mean since the beginning of the year or the past 52 weeks? Give very precise instructions for each question. For example, instruct the respondent to check one box only or check all that apply. It's also a good idea to emphasize important words in the question or instructions and if you're providing the respondent with a list of alternatives in a closed-ended question, make sure that the list of responses contains all possibilities.
This list should give them the opportunity to check Other. This can be followed with Please specify in a textbook so that you can capture this information. Also, allow for the possibility that the respondent might not know the answer or the question is not applicable to them. Therefore, it's usually a good idea to include a don't know or not applicable option as a possible choice. Open-ended questions should be used sparingly as respondents can quickly tire of completing open-ended questions.
Second, when you're dealing with the results, the coding of responses can be quite challenging and time consuming as well. It's always a good idea to place one at the end of a survey that will allow the respondent to express opinions that they haven't had a chance to throughout the survey. A typical wording might be something like, "Do you have any final thoughts or opinions regarding "the topics discussed in the survey?" Now to improve your odds of collecting valid response data, here's a list of items that you will want to avoid in the construction of your questionnaire or survey.
Avoid any words that may be unclear to a respondent such as acronyms or other unfamiliar words. Avoid modifying objectives such as usually, often, sometimes, occasionally, regularly. These terms can mean different things to different respondents. You should also avoid double-barreled questions like, "How would you rate us for our honesty and integrity?" The respondent may feel that you're highly honest but have some integrity issues. Avoid asking respondents to guess.
In the same way, avoid questions that ask respondents to make difficult estimates like, "How many times "in the past year have you accessed our website?" In this example it would be easier to answer the question if the timeframe was expressed say in months. Avoid the use of hypothetical questions like, "What would you do if our support structure changed?" Also, recognize that questions about future behavior are at best unreliable, just keeping in mind that the people have a hard time predicting what they might do or think next year, next month or even tomorrow for that matter.
Now the response rate for a survey is determined by dividing the number of people who completed a questionnaire by the total number of people who were eligible to participate in that questionnaire. Improving your response rate increases the reliability of the survey results. A low response rate leaves us wondering if our respondents are representative of the total sample universe or are they atypical. So let's explore a few tips you can use to help improve your response rate and improve your confidence in the results of your survey.
Generally there is a direct correlation between the length of the questionnaire or survey and the response rate. For example, the shorter the survey, the better the response rate. Make the questions relevant to your audience and they'll enjoy completing them more. Consider getting a third-party endorsement. Response rates typically improve with the endorsement of say an association or a publication. How about offering an incentive? Using an incentive will almost always improve your response rate.
And they don't have to break the bank. You could send all those who responded to a survey a copy of the results for example, and this will be dependent of course on the nature of the survey. Another option is to enter the respondent's name into a draw for say a cash prize or a draw for a prize that is relevant or consistent with the profession of those you are surveying. Or you could offer to make a charitable donation based on the number of responses that you receive. In closing, an online survey tool is not the only tool in the box.
We really need to let the objectives drive the methodology and not the other way around if we hope to collect real meaningful data.
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- Building a business case for online surveys
- Creating a new survey
- Building an online survey
- Editing and reordering questions
- Customizing the design of a survey
- Choosing a collection method
- Collecting and analyzing survey results
- Filtering and customizing results
- Sharing results