Successful Online Surveys: Quality not Quantity

With successful online surveys, the data obtained are reliable, and the feedback is efficient. Because too long surveys can bore respondents and they can decide to give up filling their answers, composing well written, concise surveys is the best policy for success. In successful online surveys, quality of questions included is the main goal rather than quantity. Research has shown that when surveys include a lot of heavy text, respondents tend to give up, so survey completion rate drops. Conversely, with short and succinct online-surveys, people have the willingness to complete all the questions until the end.

To write brief surveys, concise and sufficiently detailed at the same time, is not difficult. When they are composed, authors should focus on the essential information they need to obtain. Questions in successful online surveys should only be asked if the answers to them will provide the needed data.

Another manner to achieve successful online surveys is to start with interesting questions. When the first question or questions are interesting and grab the attention, respondents are motivated and inspired to complete the whole survey. The survey design has a great impact on survey response rates.

Deciding on the format of each question is essential to obtain the correct answers. For example, when specific information should be obtained, the yes or no question format is not suitable; instead, multiple choice questions are appropriate.

Another factor ensuring successful online surveys is planning ahead of time before the final survey version is launched. The analysis should be completed prior to launching, because when flaws are discovered after launching, it is too late.

The style of writing used to compose online survey questions is also of importance. Using simple language rather than specialised jargon, as well as respecting respondents’ dignity and not causing offense or embarrassment are of prime importance. Using neutral language is important in online survey questions – the purpose of successful online surveys is to find out the opinion of the audience, they are not like a forum where the authors of survey questions can also express their own opinion. Grammar is of course important, but relaxing it to make questions sound less formal is the correct approach.

To make online surveys successful, authors should arrange survey questions in a logical order. Furthermore, there should not be questions which in fact include several elements that should be answered separately – such questions are both difficult for respondents to answer and they are definitely difficult to interpret for researchers.

With respect to the types of questions in online surveys, it is of special importance to offer only one open ended question, or two at most. Open ended questions need written responses. With an excessive number of open ended questions, respondents can become tired and not give high quality answers.

Finally, with online surveys sent via email, well written subject lines are essential to capture respondents’ attention; they are certain to open the email message and complete the survey, so a well composed subject line is another factor for successful online surveys.

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