survey, opinion research, voting

Good Surveys vs. Bad Surveys: Does it Make a Difference?

We have all encountered a survey in the past. Surveys are widespread and can be used to evaluate anything from brand satisfaction to your experiences in a specific class. In your career as a marketer, it is likely that you’ll continuously deal with surveys and even design your own.


Remember, not all surveys are created equal! Although surveys may seem straightforward and intuitive to create, adequate planning is needed to ensure that you are asking the right questions and getting the information you need. 


An important goal when conducting a survey is to get projectable results that can be applied to your broader population. If your survey is not properly designed, your results will not be very useful. Let’s briefly evaluate the components of a good survey:


1.     The survey is connected to your research objectives.


When designing your survey, always make sure you connect your questions to your original research objectives. Company executives should be aware of the objectives of the marketing research efforts and your survey should feed these goals. If it doesn’t, the information collected by this mean will not be usable or may present an undeniable gap.


2.     The type of questions included in the survey are appropriate for the analysis you want to conduct.


When possible, try to include more close-ended questions compared to open-ended. Close ended questions are easier to analyze and provide results that can be projected to broader populations.  That doesn’t mean that open-ended questions cannot be used, however, additional interpretation efforts may be needed if they are included.


Become familiar with different types of questions (categorical vs. metric) and the scales and analyses that can be used to evaluate survey-taker answers. Not all question types will be suitable, and their usability will depend greatly on your research objectives.


3.     Survey questions are easy to understand and do not lead your subjects.


It is generally a good idea to construct a draft of your survey that you show to other team members and edit thoroughly before administering to your final population. The feedback you gain from team-members or test subjects can be invaluable when refining your final product and getting results you can use.


Make sure your questions are not too wordy and that test subjects are answering the questions you meant to ask. It is not uncommon for certain ideas to be misconstrued in writing, so it is best to test before delivering the final survey. Finally, make sure your questions do not lead subjects to provide the answers that reaffirm your own biases.


4.     Your questions have a natural flow and don’t overwhelm survey takers.


As a survey maker, your goal is to collect as much useful and relevant information as possible. This can only be done if your test subjects actually complete your survey and provide real answers. You risk losing participants if your survey does not follow a natural flow, if you overwhelm test takers with questions or repeat your inquiries.


Remember, more is not always better! You do not need to ask many questions to get the information you desire. Furthermore, not all questions will be applicable to all survey takers. Take advantage of resources like Qualtrics where you can add or remove survey questions based on previous responses. These platforms will also greatly facilitate survey analysis.


Reviewing and revising your survey before administering it to your target population is key. Feedback from team members will help you refine your questions and make sure you are getting answers that target your objectives.


Ultimately, not all surveys are made equal and good surveys take planning and revising. Following the aforementioned steps will help you construct surveys that provide you with projectable and valuable data for you and your business.

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