Top tip for devising an online survey

Surveys come in all shapes and sizes, but a vast majority of them share one glaring problem: lack of focus. The less focus your online survey has, the more questions it will have, and in turn, the less completed, valuable surveys you will receive. (Plus, there’s one more problem.)

If a survey has more than 6-10 questions, the abandon rate skyrockets. Who has time for filling out 20-30 long questions with multiple blanks? Do you? I don’t.

Sure, people are happy to share their experiences and opinions, but giving them concise survey questions that clearly illuminate one sole purpose is the most likely way to produce three important results:
1) High quantity of completed surveys
2) Meaningful results
3) A captive audience who is likely to fill out the next survey

Doing the opposite, sending people to a survey that takes 15 minutes (or longer) to fill out, will result in the opposite of what you need. That’s really the lesson. Narrowly define the most important thing you need to learn, and make it as easy as possible for people to complete your survey in just a few minutes. Keep the language friendly and even fun if possible.

Keep it short. Any survey that takes longer than 10 minutes cheats people out of their time. At that point, they are literally consulting for free, and they are going to want some reward.

A great survey is Apple’s customer service satisfaction survey. They are courteous, to-the-point, and quick as could be. The language is friendly, conversational. They even reward you with a thank you. Always end your survey with an enthusiastic ‘Thank you!’

Kelly Hobkirk - teaching marketers how to harness strategy, goals, reality, and purpose to connect and do better work.


Kelly Hobkirk has been helping companies succeed in creative ways for nearly 25 years. His work has been featured in Time Magazine, and books by Rockport and Rotovision. Get exclusive articles when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.

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