Have you ever been lured into taking an online survey that promised to be “quick and simple,” only to find yourself on the third page of questions, 15 minutes later, with no end  to the interrogation in sight?

Yep. It’s a classic flaw with many web-based (and other) surveys, but one that can easily be prevented.

Here’s the fact: surveys that are fast and simple have higher response rates. The quicker a participant is able to get through that list of questions, the more likely you’ll be to get a complete response instead of some partial – or non-existent – data.

What do you need to keep in mind when creating a survey? A few key pointers:

Pre-planning – Before you start listing off a dozen questions, consider the purpose of your survey. What are you hoping to learn and who are you most interested in hearing from? Plus, once you have all the results, how do you plan to use them?

Survey content – The goal of any survey is to come away with some actionable data. Consider this as you draft content. Keep questions clear and to the point. Avoid any jargon or confusing lingo that can be misinterpreted. Focus on closed-ended questions so it’s easier to compare all of your findings.

Survey structure – People will abandon surveys at any point over even the smallest details. Make yours as easy-to-follow as possible. Group similar questions together and put in a logical topic order. Ask your most important questions early on and save more sensitive or optional ones for later.

Communication – Sometimes we just need more information. So if your survey is not super-quick, say so up front – and provide a realistic idea of how long it will take to complete it. This can greatly reduce abandonment rates as people know what they’re committing to when they begin. Adding a progress bar can also be helpful in letting respondents know they are half done, almost done, etc.

Implementation – Do a test run of your survey to ensure it is glitch-free and that the whole “quick and simple” promise is accurate. To improve the chances for a response, offer an incentive and send reminders. Include clear instructions and clearly label the submit button or process to complete.

Pushing out a successful survey with a high response rate is definitely doable. If you keep it simple and follow some key tips throughout the planning and implementation process, there’s a good chance you’ll see a lot of responses come in!


Posted by Brenda Timm, VP – Strategic Communication & Online Services