A survey is a powerful tool for collecting research data. But there is a difference between a poor survey and a good one. A well-written survey will give you the insights you need to drive your business forward.
From who you ask to how you ask, the following tips will help you get better and more accurate results from your surveys.
Asking the right people is the first step to getting great survey results. If you don’t ask the people who actually use your product or service, you will probably end up with irrelevant data. Poor or irrelevant data can actually harm your business. So how can you go about finding the right respondents?
Start by targeting an audience relevant to your research. Try setting up questions designed to collect eligible, reliable respondents, and weed out those who aren’t needed.
Bias comes in different forms. To avoid it, you need to recognize the different types.
Selection bias occurs when you ignore a critical section of your population. For example, if your survey is only available online, you are essentially disregarding any respondents who don’t have access to a computer or mobile phone. Thus, you end up with a skewed representation of the population you need to analyze.
Question bias happens as a result of simply working in your business every day. Your in-depth knowledge of the subject matter may color your questions based on the answer you think you want. Without even realizing it, you could be twisting your questions to get a particular answer.
To avoid bias, have an objective third party check your survey – for example, a qualified research partner. Also, be sure to randomize your questions and answer options. Respondents tend to pick a certain answer when they are unsure how to respond.
The better your questions, the better your results. But which types of questions are best for your research? There are many different types of questions you could add to your survey:
After choosing your appropriate types of questions, you need to focus on how you write them. Here are a few best practices for writing great survey questions:
Take time to practice writing your survey questions. The clearer your questions are, the more accurate the responses will be.
You are asking your respondents to take time out of their busy lives to provide you feedback to benefit your research. Make it easy on them with simple, short, and easy to use surveys. Your goal is to have them finish your survey with accurate results, not get frustrated and quit halfway through.
The following things can help you simplify your survey:
You may have a situation where respondents have sped through your survey. Other times, you will find those who have an answer pattern, or put answers that make no sense. This is poor data, and you need to recognize it.
If you are encountering poor data, consider hiring a trained professional to help you identify the cause. Some ways to fix or avoid poor data could include online survey tools with start and finish times, and repeated questions but in a different format.
Putting together a survey that yields useful insight is a lot of work. So it can be frustrating if you don’t get the answers you want. Writing great questions that get to the heart of the matter, and picking the right respondents is a skill that takes years of practice. But when done well, you will be collecting illuminating insight that can push your business forward.