What’s the difference between a great survey and a not-so-great one?
women2-sponsored-blog-postBy Betsy Mikel (Women 2.0, Editor)

It’s unlikely that you’ve got a massive research budget. Well, to be perfectly honest… when you’ve got employees, rent, hosting fees and other bills to pay, your budget for research is likely miniscule.

Yet learning from your early customers or target audience is valuable and can help you refine your focus or product. So how can you get that goldmine of insight? Surveys.

SurveyMonkey, one of the companies that presented at our recent Think Differently culture event, has been in the survey game since 1999 — when they began as a startup themselves.

Today the company is 600+ employees strong and growing. It’s safe to say they’re not a startup anymore. But their product is the perfect online platform that can help startups and businesses both large and small, build their company strategy.

Here are a few of SurveyMonkey’s top tips for crafting a survey that can help your company gain quality insights and data.

1. Pick the Best Distribution Method

To get your survey into the right hands and increase the response rate, pick the best delivery method that makes the most sense. Who do you want to reach? And what do you want to accomplish? Here are a few options:

  • Email Invite: Best if you have an email list and want to track responses.
  • Website Collector: Best if you want customer feedback from people using your website. You can either do this as an embedded survey or a pop-up.
  • Web Link Collector: Best if you want to send your survey through several channels. You’ll get a link that you can copy and paste anywhere: social media channels, in your newsletter, via text or in emails.
  • Buy a Targeted Audience: If you don’t have customers yet, but want to survey a specific demographic, check out create a Targeted Audience Collector based on attributes like gender, age, income and employment status.

2. Create a Crystal Clear Goal

You might feel compelled to ask customers everything under the sun to get as much feedback as possible about your product. But keep in mind that they might not stick around for a lengthy survey. Plus, what do you intend to do with all that data once you have it?

“If you never lose focus on your goals, you’ll be able to write questions aimed at getting you high quality, actionable data,” recommends SurveyMonkey.

So start with this question: What do you hope to accomplish? Then go from there. You’ll craft better questions — and receive better replies — if you have solidified your goal early on and stuck to it. If a question pops into your head that’s not quite on target for this particular research goal, simply save it for the next survey.

3. Cater to Your Audience

Before you get to writing the questions, think about who will receive that survey. A few things to keep in mind as you craft your survey:

  • Vocabulary: Avoid jargon if you’re speaking to a general audience that is not as familiar with your product or industry.
  • Length: Dedicated customers are more likely to stick around for a longer survey. If you’re surveying new customers who aren’t as familiar with your brand, keep it short.

4. Get to Know Your Audience

You may have an ideal target audience in mind. But how can you know that your customers are exactly who you think they are? Be sure to include demographics questions like their age, gender, income and education levels. This way, you can get a much better sense of who they are.

5. Embrace Negative Responses

When you use surveys to gather feedback on a customer’s experience, you may not always be thrilled with the replies. This is especially key right after you launch. While you may not have a smooth-as-butter transaction flow (yet), this will help you get there by identifying what needs the most work.

“You may come across new insights such as a technical faults on the checkout page, unclear messaging on how to make a purchase or unhelpful support from staff,” as a recent SurveyMonkey blog post pointed out. “Despite being negative, these little nuggets of information are like stumbling through a goldmine! It stops you from second-guessing what may be hindering your conversion rate and takes you to the stage where you can do something about it.”

Want to improve your survey game? Check out SurveyMonkey’s super-detailed Survey Writing Guide for more tips on how to craft a stellar survey.

About the author: Betsy Mikel is the managing editor of Women 2.0 and runs the content consultancy Aveck. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a lifelong obsession with French language and culture. When she’s not biking all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria, you can find Betsy on Twitter at @betsym.