Surveys are an excellent customer listening tool. They help you identify what is important, how to allocate resources, make critical decisions and reduce overall risk. Recently, Tech Data surveyed its cloud services customers. Our purpose was to gain valuable insight into their cloud business to ensure we are aligned to deliver the best cloud solutions portfolio and support possible.
So how can you incorporate surveys into your marketing efforts to uncover your own valuable customer insights? We’ve identified 12 survey best practices to help you get started:
1. Define a clear research question or objective
Knowing the specific feedback you want from your customers or target audience is a good starting point for developing clear, focused questions. Keeping your research question or objective in mind will help you limit your questions to those most essential.
2. Keep your questions and answer choices simple
To avoid fatiguing your respondents, compose simple question and answer options, free from jargon or complexity.
3. Ask closed-ended questions
While open-ended questions allow respondents to explain what is on their minds, it can take time to review, code and interpret the results. Closed-ended questions, such as multiple-choice or scaled questions, are time efficient for both respondents to answer and for you to analyze later.
Want to account for all possible answers? Add an “Other” answer choice with an option for respondents to fill in an alternate answer.
4. Keep your questionnaire brief
A study from Microsoft states that the human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to eight. Despite this hurdle, you want to achieve a high response rate so that you can analyze results from a sizeable representative sample. You also want to ensure your respondents provide earnest (not hasty) answers.
SurveyMonkey research shows respondents start speeding through questions at eight minutes, signaling that respondents were becoming disengaged. Ideally, you want to aim for a survey that takes no longer than five minutes to administer (approximately 15 questions or less).
5. Be transparent about your survey
Up front, inform respondents approximately how long the survey will take. This will help to prevent them from losing interest halfway through. Additionally, let them know the purpose of the survey and how their survey data will be used. This can help increase your response rate and put respondents at ease about taking your survey. Be straightforward about what personal information you are collecting, why you are using it, and how this information will be shared.
6. Motivate your respondents to take (and complete) your survey
Adopt the funnel technique when organizing your questions to ease the flow and improve the user experience. This concept recommends that you start and end your survey with engaging, light and more general questions, while placing those requiring more detail and difficulty in the middle. The idea is that the easier questions will warm up your respondents to answer those that are less so. The survey will end with lighter questions again (such as profile or demographic information), encouraging them to finish strong.
7. Let your respondents see their progress
Along with adopting the funnel technique, if you are creating an online survey using software such as Qualtrics or SurveyGizmo, there is a progress bar function available that can show your respondents how far along they are in the survey. Being able to see how much progress they’ve have made is a good incentive for them to follow through.
8. Save your respondents time with skip logic
When considering how to design a survey that will leave your respondents happy, think about how you can save them time. Taking advantage of survey software features such as skip logic, allows respondents to skip a question later in the survey based on a previous answer to a closed-ended question. In other words, respondents get to skip questions that aren’t relevant to them.
9. Brand your survey accordingly
Design your survey with your company’s logo, color palette and brand guidelines in mind, especially if the survey is web or email based. This tactic reminds your respondents they are sharing their perspective with a company they are familiar with and trust, not some other suspicious entity.
10. Test it out
Before you launch your survey, be sure to test it and share with colleagues for feedback. You can even share your questionnaire with a small sample of your intended population. Be sure your content is clear, easy to understand, and the overall survey design flows and works appropriately.
11. Follow up with your respondents
Track your response rate and send a friendly reminder or “nudge” before your deadline to those who have yet to participate, to make sure their perspectives are considered. Many survey services offer an email automation feature for you to follow-up with respondents.
12. Share your findings with your respondents
Once you’ve analyzed your data, let your respondents know what you’ve learned and what actions you will take as a result. This courtesy can help you fortify your relationship with your customers by showing them their opinion matters! Also, by showing them you are putting their perspective to use, they may become even more willing to share their views with you in the future.
To learn more about how else you can stay ahead of the curve, contact the Tech Data Cloud Solutions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Ashley J. Martinez is a business development manager at Tech Data, supporting customer enablement for the Cloud Solutions team. Prior to joining Tech Data, she worked in higher education as a marketing and communications professional. Ashley holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication studies from the University of South Florida. In her free time, she loves to go exploring around the Tampa Bay area and spend quality time with her husband Tilly and their Chiweenie, Felix, and Chihuahua, Oreo.