While business acumen and instinct count for a lot, on occasion it’s important to go straight to the source for some answers.

And, this is where surveys can come into play. Surveys are vital for bringing tangible insight and context to our business decisions.

Surveys, when well-constructed and delivered, can help you gain almost unmatchable real-time insight and clarity. Unfortunately, we run the risk of undervaluing their potential and power. 

In this guide, we’ll explore

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Survey

What is a survey?

A survey is a research tool, commonly consisting of a list of predefined questions. These questions are asked in the form of a questionnaire to a targeted audience. The goal of a survey is data collection. The survey data gathered points to specific information that will help form conclusions and make smart decisions.
When it comes to their scope and focus, surveys can be closely targeted to a very specific audience or posed on a much larger scale, nationally or even globally.

Types of surveys 

With careful planning, the datasets from surveys can be leveraged to help bring deeper insight into virtually any business scenario.

To show the full scope of their potential, let's explore some common applications:

 

1. Market research surveys

Getting direct feedback from your target market is invaluable. Surveys help you get straight to the heart of the segments you need to understand, bringing essential insights to future decisions around your direction, offering, and brand awareness. Some popular use cases for surveys within market research include:

The new product survey

An integral element of your go-to-market strategy—a new product survey can help you to get a good feel for the market readiness and demand for your latest offerings. This form of survey can also prove helpful when it comes to exploring prospects’ expectations. This is essential intelligence when it comes to deciding how to position new products and features.

The product feedback survey

Launching in the modern agile market usually entails some beta testing or incremental product iterations. In order to make continuous improvements, all of these offerings should be subjected to feedback. For revised product iterations, your survey strategy should specifically explore adjustments and course correction.

After you’ve launched a final product variant, surveys can be deployed to gain candid user feedback on new products or features. This can be a great time to learn how well-judged your final decisions during development and revision were. If you're not getting the type of responses you were hoping for, it might be time to revise your product strategy.

The price-setting survey

Getting your pricing spot-on is an integral aspect of your product’s success, so you don’t want to leave this to guesswork. 

A price-setting survey can help you learn more about 

  • The frequency with which your customers buy a product, 
  • The brands that they currently purchase from (helpful for comparison) 
  • Honest opinions about what they feel is too cheap to be good, or too expensive to be worth it.
     

2. Sales surveys

Sales surveys get you up close and personal with some of your customers’ earliest interactions with your business. By providing a direct line of communication and asking the right questions, you can get an unrivaled understanding of the customer experience during the ongoing sale.

In a retail market that is increasingly driven by customer experience (with ever-rising expectations), it's essential to keep on top of this. Some good examples include:

Performance of the sales rep

The way that your company sells is so important, and while sales reps are all unique in their skill sets and approach, you’ll still want to gauge the impression each of your reps make. A quick survey to help customers relay their experience is a great way to learn more about your star salespeople.

The pathway to conversion 

After a customer has made a purchase, it can be a great time to learn a little more about what made their session successful. Ask a few questions that help you understand what led them to purchase. This helps shed light on the best strategies to invest in to get more sales across the line.
After you’ve launched a final product variant, surveys can be deployed to gain candid user feedback on new products or features. This can be a great time to learn how well-judged your final decisions during development and revision were. If you're not getting the type of responses you were hoping for, it might be time to revise your product strategy.

Customer perception of the brand before and after sales process

Asking questions pertaining to the impression people hold of your brand can be enlightening. Are you meeting expectations as you make sales? Does the customer’s opinion change after the sales process, and if so, for better or worse? 

4. Customer support survey 

Finally, don’t forget to keep track of how well your customer support is being received. Serving your customers well means putting in the effort that goes well beyond the sale itself. Customer service is a big contributor to ongoing customer satisfaction. So be sure to use surveys as a way of monitoring customer experience post the purchase.

Was help on hand when they needed it? How easily could they find answers to their questions? By finding out more about the way your customer support team interacted with them, you can continue to refine your process.

NPS Survey

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey asks customers a single question: would they recommend the product or service to a friend or colleague? Although simple to deploy and helpful when it comes to benchmarking, the results you gain are fairly top level. This is because the NPS survey keeps a tight focus on a single issue – the customer’s willingness to personally vouch for your product’s quality.

Customer intention vs purchase survey

What motivated your customer to purchase their product? By exploring the purchase intent behind the conversion, you can get a great understanding of what’s actually driving your sales. Additionally, obtaining more clarity on what worked for your customer can help you improve your product and future experiences over time.  It also helps you with retention strategies, if the customer is likely to churn.

Product quality survey

This is especially important if you’re not leveraging a review strategy. Did your product meet the customers’ expectations? A product quality survey will help you learn more about opinions they’ve formed about the product and your business, which in turn can shed light on how likely they are to churn or refer to other prospects.

4. Customer support survey 

Finally, don’t forget to keep track of how well your customer support is being received. Serving your customers well means putting in the effort that goes well beyond the sale itself. Customer service is a big contributor to ongoing customer satisfaction. So be sure to use surveys as a way of monitoring customer experience post the purchase.

Was help on hand when they needed it? How easily could they find answers to their questions? By finding out more about the way your customer support team interacted with them, you can continue to refine your process.

General support survey

It’s a great idea to explore the full, holistic range of your support experience. Customers typically interact with a brand across multiple channels and touchpoints before converting. From on-sight chatbots and FAQ pages through to messenger-based support within social media platforms — how well are you supporting them at each step of their purchase journey?

Performance of the support executive

How effectively is each of your support executives performing? Asking a few quick survey questions immediately after an interaction can help your team learn and grow to provide an even better service over time.

How to create a survey 

The power and potential of surveys are limitless – if you know how to create them in the most effective manner. 

When it comes to creating a survey, break the task down into a series of steps, taking time and care to optimize each stage of the process.

Effective surveys set out to achieve a tangible outcome, with clearly defined parameters for success. Design (with regard to the order, form, question types,and weighting of your questions) will also play a key role in the way that your survey performs.

Here are our detailed recommendations for a successful survey strategy.

 

1. Obtain a clear objective for the survey 

This is an important first step. Make sure you have absolute clarity when it comes to what you’re looking to accomplish as the result of running your survey. Ask yourself:

2. Set parameters for success and validity of your survey

A survey must be well-constructed. Without taking time to decide what is needed to achieve validity, you won’t be able to place full trust in your results. Ask yourself questions such as:

3. Design your survey 

Once you’ve completed the first two steps of this process, you’ll have a good idea of the “why” and the “how” of your survey. Now, it’s time to get crafting your questions! 

Here’s a flow you might like to consider.

How to create survey

 

1. First, create a rough set of questions that you’d like answers to

Don’t limit yourself or overthink things. You’re creating a long list that can be whittled down and refined throughout the design process.

2. Now refer back to the earlier foundations you laid

Which of these questions serve the key objective of your survey? 
Note: It’s important to keep surveys as concise as possible, to encourage and achieve a high completion rate.

 

3. Next, start to refine your list of questions

Decide which constitutes your top research questions. These are the questions that get to the heart of the matter you are investigating and will help your survey fulfill its core objectives. As a result, they should be prioritized as you pull your survey into its final form.

 

4. Look again at how you’re phrasing your questions

Will they be open-ended or closed-ended? Would a mix of both forms of phrasing better suit the purposes of your survey? 
 

Open-ended questions enable the respondent to give a free-form answer, usually in the form of a few sentences of text.

For example:

In your own words, describe what you’re looking for in the perfect cup of coffee?

 

Closed-ended questions are more prescriptive, giving a set range of possible answers to select from. The respondent could be allowed to choose a single or multiple choice of answers from the given options.

For example:

Which of the following is most important to you when it comes to selecting the coffee you buy?

A. Strength  B. Aroma  C. Fair Trade Status  D. Packaging

 

5. Finally, think about whether your questions take a quantitative or qualitative approach

Let’s take a quick look at what’s meant by this:

 

Quantitative:

Either measuring or measured by the quantity of something, as opposed to its quality.)

Examples of quantitative questions include:

Qualitative:

Either measuring or measured by the quality (size, value, etc) of something, as opposed to its quality. They tend to be more subjective.

Examples of quantitative questions include:

Neither form of questioning is ‘better’ or ‘more correct’ – most surveys will benefit from a blend of both qualitative and quantitative questioning, and the exact ratio will depend on your unique objectives.

 

4. Finally, test your survey

Ask a few subjects to complete the survey whilst being observed. Ask them to describe their interpretation of the questions, and take careful note of any stumbling blocks or elements of confusion.

This last step is a very beneficial way of adding the final polish to your survey by highlighting opportunities for improvement you may have overlooked.

Additional tips for successful survey design 

 

1. Be upfront about the purpose of your survey from the start

For example:

“Thanks for participating in this survey.

By completing this form, you’ll be helping the Parent and Teacher Association decide the best way to redesign the traffic flow at school each morning. This will lead to a faster drop-off times and fewer emissions by our children’s playground.”

Tips to create Survey
2. Keep a neutral tone, no leading language

For example:

Instead of “Good Pup Dog food is loved by dogs of all ages - it sets tails wagging every time! How much does your dog love our product?”

Try something like this:

Survey example
3. Try to avoid encouraging unconscious bias

Don’t let your customers get an impression of the answer you might prefer or be looking for!

For example:

Avoid very direct yes / no questions relating to a specific product.

I.e. Do you like coffee? Yes / No

Instead, try something broader that masks your area of interest: 

Survey example
4. Make use of matrix format questions - but don’t overdo it!

Matrix questions can be a great way to gather a lot of data points in an appealing way.

They are typically easy to engage with and quick to fill out. However, be aware that overstretching this format can have the opposite of the desired effect!

For example, this looks manageable -

 

Survey example

 

But this matrix is much less appealing!

Survey example
5. Group questions and order them logically

Consider the flow for those completing the survey.

Finally, consider the experience of your survey respondents. If you’re looking for specific information, then build to it in a logical manner, ensuring that they’re thinking about their answers with the broader context.

For example

Instead of diving straight into your highly specific primary questions (for example, their family’s favorite desserts), lay the foundations of learning about their family, how often they eat together.)

Survey example

This follows a more logical flow than immediately asking for their family’s preferred desserts and then jumping back to find out more about their family and their dining habits.

How to implement an effective survey

Having put so much work into crafting your survey, it would be a shame to undermine this. To ensure you’re getting good survey response rates, put careful thought into its execution: promotion, delivery, and subsequent analysis.

Consider the medium

Think about the best platform to leverage when creating your survey and getting it in front of the right audience. Today, many online tools exist to help you create and send a survey, but this won’t always be the best way of reaching an audience that is less technically savvy.

If your segment is less accustomed to online interaction of this kind, you may want to consider hiring a market research agency, who can execute the survey on your behalf.

Timing is everything

You’ll also want to think about exactly when you send out your survey. Mobile respondents have been shown to demonstrate different response patterns to those filling in forms on laptop or desktop devices, and similarly, the time of day may also impact the number of responses you receive.

Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience – when are they likely most to take your survey? Commuting time? Office hours? The weekend? The correct answer will depend on your objectives and demographic.

Put effort into your promotion

Think about the various ways in which you can get your survey questions in front of the right people, and take care to pay attention to each of these channels. Social media can be a very helpful tool for casting a wide net, especially helpful if you’re seeking a broad sample range of audience. Direct outreach via email to your existing customer base helps make the best use of existing relationships.

Think about your presentation

The way that you frame your survey has a huge impact on people’s inclination to complete it. Be upfront about the purpose of your survey from the outset – respondents will be more likely to answer your questions if you’re letting them know exactly why you’re asking them, and how their replies will help you.

Similarly, it's been shown that embedding the first question of your survey into the request email that you send can have a big impact on the completion rate. Pique people’s interest, get them curious about your survey and motivate them to provide assistance.

Finally, sweeten the deal with an incentive

In addition to showing your audience how much they’d be helping you solve a problem or improve a product, you can also boost your chances of getting a good response. Incentives could be monetary (a discount code to use in the future, cash, coupons, gift cards, etc) or non-monetary (a gift, access to a helpful resource, or even a charitable donation.)

To get the most out of this tactic, consider what will be most appealing to your target audience, and frame your incentive accordingly. Cold, hard cash usually gets the best results when it comes to maximizing response rate, and this is almost certainly down to its universal appeal across all demographics!

Helpful survey tools

There is a range of excellent survey platforms available to help you conduct surveys today.  here’s are some of the most helpful and popular online survey software.

 

1. Freshmarketer

In addition to providing a broad range of marketing automation, Freshmarketer helps you get a much better understanding of your customers  

The real benefit offered here is that of perfect timing. By triggering exit polls as visitors show signs of abandoning your website, your survey questions can be interjected at the most opportune moment, boosting your chances of a response, and giving you important clarity on your customers’ behavior.

Users also benefit from a clear and easy-to-master interface, which gives great control over the presentation, enabling perfectly branded surveys to be embedded into your website. Word clouds, bar charts, gauge charts, and more can all be used to help you get clarity on your visitors’ responses.

Learn more about Polls & Feedback

 

Freshmaketer - Survey

2. Social media 

All major social media platforms now include polling features to conduct online surveys. These typically work best for a single, simple-to-answer question (such as one that involves a binary choice or yes / no answer.) They can be great for testing the water, with a rapid snapshot of interest or opinion.

 

3. Survey Monkey 

Survey Monkey is an online survey tool that offers a feature-rich and free-to-use platform solely dedicated to the design and delivery of effective and successful surveys. Those looking for greater control and creativity when it comes to their customer research can opt for their paid plans. They also provide a wide range of well-crafted survey templates to help get you started.

 

4. Google forms 

As part of the free Google Docs offering, Google Forms allows you to conduct surveys using online forms. It is a great shout for teams who are working collaboratively and already making good use of the other programs associated with the suite. What you’ll lack in sophisticated customization, you’ll gain from the convenience and intuitive creation. With Google Forms, you can also view the survey results as you receive responses. 

 

5. Microsoft forms 

Microsoft also offers an online survey software as part of their Office 365 suite. Again, these are quick to generate and a great option for anyone looking to run internal surveys amongst colleagues who are already using the associated programs.

What's next?

Once you've collected the survey data, it is time to analyze the dataset and present the survey results to your team and the stakeholders. The key is to present it in a way that is relevant to each stakeholder. 

For example, while the product team is interested in details about the acceptance of the new features by your users, the sales team would only want a one-pager on how it is better than the competitors. 

So, take action on this article and use the steps in the article as a guide to create and execute your first survey today.

Survey