10 Essential Survey Tips
by Chris van der Leer on May 25th, 2017

​Creating a survey seems like an easy way to perform primary research on a target market, however it is important bear a number of guidelines in mind when planning a survey.
Here are 10 items you should consider when building a survey or questionnaire:
  1. Know the aim: Be clear on the survey purpose. Having a clear objective will help determine the data required, which in turn will dictate what questions need to be asked. Having an unclear objective can lead to collecting data which does not clearly contribute towards the purpose.
  2. Be time conscious: Respondents time is valuable, do be mindful of how much time it will take to complete and perhaps mention this on the survey itself. Survey respondents are more likely to respond if they know how much of their time it will take.
  3. Be clear on how data will be distributed: Most people value their privacy and do not appreciate having their contact details and opinions handed around without their knowledge and consent.
  4. Dangle a carrot: Provide an incentive to encourage respondents to spend the time to respond to the survey. This is particularly useful if the potential survey respondents do not have a vested interest in contributing towards the survey; providing an incentive will get more responses.
  5. Take only what you need: Ensure that the collected metrics contribute towards the purpose of the survey. Don’t collect superfluous data as it is likely to muddy the survey results.
  6. Keep the questions simple: Vague, poorly worded and indirect questions tend to confuse survey respondents. Use close ended questions. Short and focused is best – employ the use of economic verbiage.
  7. Avoid pre-biased questions: Get the draft survey reviewed by somebody who does not have a vest interest in the outcome. It helps to review adjectives and adverbs in the survey questions, remove them if they do not add value to the question.
  8. Keep the question order logical: Don’t confuse respondents by jumping around the subject matter – consider the purpose of the survey and order the questions appropriately. It helps if the order of the questions takes the respondent on a journey in order to engage them more.
  9. Avoid jargon:  Be aware of who the target demographic are and tailor the survey questions to their skill level. Technical language should be avoided, if the use of jargon cannot be avoided then a glossary or explanation of terms is recommended.
  10. Consider the target market: Do be mindful of how the survey is delivered. If a survey is distributed on paper then people might not complete and return, however if it is done on-line then a response is more likely.
This article was excerpted from a paper developed by Chris van der Leer and created for ‘US1986 Apply calculations, data analysis and statistical interpretation in a business context’. It is licensed under CC BY 2.0. This means that you are free to license and adapt the contents of this article by giving credit to the original author.

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