Customer satisfaction studies, website evaluation surveys, business demographic research – holding any type of survey can turn into a company-wide event with high emotional charge. It’s no wonder spirits get high when there are so many branches involved: the work you dedicate to put up a survey, people’s involvement in answering it and your team’s members waiting for the outcome.
For surveys, the main goals are to increase the number of submissions and minimize bias. Response rates may vary upon the target audience, the type of research and the incentives you use.
The following 5 takeaways can help you build a friendly survey that people will love to fill in.
First impression matters most
Remember the “blink test”, aka the first 8-10 seconds a person evaluates the form before deciding to fill it in or not? Same rule applies here. The way you introduce your survey to users decides whether it will get submitted or not.
Identify yourself as an authority or an entity that has some affinity with the public you are targeting. For example, if you have created a community and wish to survey members, call to their sense of belonging to that group. Clearly define the purpose of the survey from the beginning and let people know why their opinion is needed, and what they will gain by expressing it.
It’s always a great idea to state how long the survey is going to take. People are more likely to commit to filling in the entire survey if they have a timeframe. Anything below 7 minutes is acceptable, while longer surveys risk higher dropouts with every extra minute you ask for. Perform tests with your colleagues to see how much the survey takes at the first view and tweak its length.
Survey content – keep it focused
Before you start putting together likert scales and radio button fields, clearly define the purpose of the survey. Think of what you really need to learn from people, which is the set of information that you are sure to use and eliminate any “nice to have” questions that aren’t relevant to your purposes. Generally, it’s better to shape your survey upon a single focus point than create a general survey that tries to cover a lot of lateral topics at once.
“More is less” – this principle is golden for your survey. Avoid lengthy headers and instructions, as people rarely have the time to read through several lines of text. You need them to fill in the survey, so just let them do that!
Questions have to flow in a logical order, usually starting from broad based matters and reaching narrower ones to the end. Demographic data is best to be asked for last. Keep questions simple and avoid using any acronyms or jargon without properly explaining it first.
Let people choose, not type. You can allow for some open ended questions, but not many of them, as they are hard to quantify. Within the Reports section of 123ContactForm you can generate charts only by the data included in choice fields.
Likert scales should stay consistent throughout the survey; it would be a mistake to change the order of the ratings. For example, if you stated that 1 is the least and 5 is the most, you shouldn’t reverse the sense of those values on the run.
An eye-catching design of the survey is definitely a plus, but only as long as it facilitates reading. Don’t use too many graphics within the questionnaire, as they can distract attention from the content. Speaking of the survey’s layout, usually the highest converting designs are with left aligned labels, as they allow users to read the content attentively.
An incentive such as a gift or discount coupon typically lifts response rates by 10-15%. Some marketers’ credo is to ever avoid such tactic, for fear it would bias responses. We recommend giving smaller incentives or holding contests with prize draws for participants, as they prove harmless to the quality of responses and in exchange they boost conversions. Typically, minor prizes with higher chances to win are better than large prizes available for just one or two people. Present those incentives through multimedia embedded content in your survey (photos, videos) and you will be sure to draw people’s attention.
But not all incentives involve money investment. In fact, it’s best to make the material gifts optionally, as many people just want to share their opinion freely. A free incentive that can be of great motivation is giving a follow-up perspective. Provide a statistic of responses and let people know how you will put their ideas into practice. This way you make them part of your plans, you integrate them in a higher vision. And this means you provide value.
Good timing brings the big prize
Response rates are greatly influenced by the time you send your survey. The likelihood of your email being read is increased by sending out e-mail invitations mid-week, after 12pm. To shape an interval, the best time for business surveys would be somewhere in the interval Tuesday-Thursday, during mid-afternoon. In the evenings response times are quicker, but open rates are lower than in daytime.
Sending email reminders can significantly improve your response rates. Some of your users may not have the time to take the survey right when they receive it. Once they put it on stand-by, it’s most likely that they forget about it later so don’t hesitate to remind them. You don’t need a lot of content in the follow-up email, just an elegant call to action that stresses once more the necessity of participating to the survey. A follow-up within 3-4 days from the first issue is optimal.
Make a good follow-up
Closing the loop with surveys is as important as having them filled in. It’s always a great idea to publish the survey results on your website. This will keep people updated with the outcome of their participation and encourage more and more new submissions. With 123ContactForm you can create easy reports over submissions and have them published as a separate webpage in just a few clicks. You can update the results every once in a while to keep the excitement alive.
Best of luck with your research!