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    The Ultimate Guide for Online Survey Tips

    5 top tips for this, 10 useful tips for that! Is your inbox full of online survey tips for creating questionnaires that you never really get round to reading? Sometimes, it can be beneficial to have a handy go-to guide to remind you of the steps you need to follow to help you conduct meaningful research. Creating surveys should not be complicated! So, to assist you with your research, we thought it would be helpful to share some best practice tips for creating an online survey that will help you reach your goals…

    Set your Objectives

    The best place to start with any piece of research is to establish exactly what you want to achieve;

    Online Survey Tips Online Survey Tips

    • What are the objectives of the survey?
    • What do you want to find out?
    • What information do you need to collect?
    • Will the data collected help you to make the decisions that are needed?

    Well thought-out objectives will greatly influence the success of your research project. Whether you are carrying out employee satisfaction evaluations, gathering feedback from events, doing some product launch research or conducting an NHS Friends and Family Test, your objectives will help you stay focused on the questions you need to ask.

    Determine your target audience

    Before we go any further, let’s establish one of the most important factors of successful surveys:

    Who is your target audience?

    A good place to start with any piece of research is to identify who is going to take your survey. At this point, don’t forget to ask colleagues for their input in order to target the right people to gather quality feedback. Your peers will have valuable insight on what information is required to meet objectives. Your sales or management teams will know the areas that are positively or adversely affecting customers and who to direct questions to. Once you know who will be invited to take part in your research, you can begin to formulate the survey structure.

    Online Survey Tips for Design

    Online survey design can dramatically influence the results you receive. It is wise to invest time and resources at this stage so as not to waste money in gathering, analysing and reporting on irrelevant data further down the road. Keep in mind your customers probably have busy lives and don’t have a lot of spare time to answer surveys, so make every question count! Focus on what you want to find out - maybe you want to improve customer satisfaction levels or gather patient feedback.

    There is a multitude of question types to choose from that will help you get the information you are looking for. Here are some of the most commonly used types;

    • Multiple choice with one or multiple answers
    • Single or Multiple Textboxes
    • Matrix of Choices, Textboxes and Drop-down Menus
    • Ranking Questions
    • Likert (Rating) Scale
    • Net Promoter Score
    • Slider Scale
    • Continuous Sum
    • Semantic Differential

    Use some Open Text Box questions that allow respondents to enter a free form text answer in order to get more in-depth insight. You can use the Text Analysis Tool to manage the answers; read our User Guide to find out the benefits. You can also take advantage of question customisation tools to add to the quality of your survey feedback and produce a professional look to your questionnaire by customising everything to meet your brand guidelines.

    Don’t forget to let your target audience know the reasons for the survey, they will be more willing to invest time in answering if they know you are using the results to provide them with a better service!

    For a bit more insight on the importance of survey design, read why Stephanie Beadell and Matthew Guay believe thoughtful survey design is so important.

    Avoid Survey Fatigue

    Keep a few important points in mind that will help avoid survey fatigue so that your results are as unbiased as possible:

    • Don’t send too many surveys to the same respondents
    • Remember to KISS – Keep your surveys simple and short where possible
    • Make your surveys mobile responsive to catch people on the move
    • Don’t ask questions you already know the answer to
    • Use a progress bar to let respondents know how far along in the survey they are

    Collecting Survey Data

    You have identified your audience and designed a state-of-the-art questionnaire. Now it’s time to send it. Send your survey invitation via email and SMS, share via social media and embed a link directly onto any page of your website. Don’t forget that you can create one survey in multiple languages so that you can collect data from anywhere in the world.

    If you don’t have the contact details to hand but it’s essential to guarantee responses to validate your results, then consumer panels might be the answer! It’s quick and easy to set up and guarantees you will get the number of responses you need. Read our blog on How to get the Right Survey Audience to take part in your survey.

    Do a Test Survey

    Hang on a minute before hitting that send button! A good policy to follow is to always conduct a pilot test survey. This will expose any faults in your survey design and test that everything is working as it should. You may have used skip logic or question randomisation, now is the time to test out your survey, to make sure it will be as effective as possible!

    Set a Deadline

    Be clear from the outset what the start and finish date is for your survey. By using the survey restriction tool, you will save yourself the job of having to set calendar reminders to end the survey and you won’t have to log into the system to manually end the survey.

    Analyse and Report your Online Survey Results

    Tools for online survey analysis are far-reaching. New features are enhancing the process all the time and allow you to view your results in real-time to make immediate decisions! Advanced exporting features allow you to turn your results into custom graphs, export the raw data into a CSV file for further manipulation or download responses into a word document and print friendly versions. You can edit and delete responses or filter by specific options i.e. show only female respondents.

    Report your Findings

    To complete the research process, share your survey results with colleagues and management. For most organisations, research plays an important part in ongoing improvement and business strategy. Many organisations will use online questionnaires to regularly reach out to consumers in order to increase customer satisfaction and improve efficiency. However, bigger research projects can be commissioned for everything from product launches to academic research.

    Online surveys provide many benefits to organisations as they are quick and easy to set up and are relatively low cost compared to conducting surveys by telephone or by post. If you want to get started immediately, sign up for a Basic, Pro or Business Plan or book a live, personalised demo for an Enterprise Plan.

    Happy Surveying!

    Get started and create your first survey

    Request a demo from one of our friendly team members or call us on 0800 0937 822.


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    About Author

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    Phil Cleave

    Phil is part of the Content team at SmartSurvey and has over 20 years experience in the PR and Comms sector writing for Tech Companies.

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