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Three Common Survey Design Mistakes You Can Avoid
 

Three Common Survey Design Mistakes You Can Avoid

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We all know what the most common survey design mistakes are: having surveys that are too long, too onerous, or that have questions that are leading or biased in some way. But what about the next most ...

We all know what the most common survey design mistakes are: having surveys that are too long, too onerous, or that have questions that are leading or biased in some way. But what about the next most common survey design errors?

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    Three Common Survey Design Mistakes You Can Avoid Three Common Survey Design Mistakes You Can Avoid Document Transcript

    • Three Common Survey Design Mistakes You Can AvoidWe all know what the most common survey design mistakes are: having surveys thatare too long, too onerous, or that have questions that are leading or biased in someway. But what about the next most common survey design errors?1. Too many open-ended questions. Very often, when we’re writing a questionnaire,we realize that there are opportunities to discover new things or we are unsure of whichanswer options to offer. Our solution? Open-ended questions. We might ask peopleabout unaided brand awareness; that is, “When you think of Product Category X, whatbrands come to mind?” Or you might ask, “What else can our company do to improveyour satisfaction with our services or products?” Or you might have a question followedby a list of possible answers, including an “Other. Please specify: ” option.The first two examples are open-ended questions, but even the third one is expecting alot. Having two or three questions that require real writing is fine. But if you ask toomany, it becomes a turn-off. It is simply too onerous and few respondents will type thatmuch. The result? You end up with a lot of missing data. So choose wisely, and useopen-ended questions judiciously.2. Excessive jargon. If you’re doing a survey project, chances are that you have agreat deal of expertise in a particular product category, industry, or topic area. And byvirtue of the fact that you’re an expert, you have developed a specific language fortalking about relevant issues. It’s very easy for those of us who develop areas ofexpertise to forget that other people simply don’t use the same language to discuss thesame topics. We have to be vigilant when we’re creating surveys to use friendlylanguage. Go for the lowest common denominator in terms of who’s going to be takingyour survey—and use language that they are likely to use. Excessive jargon turnspeople off and leads to dropouts, or worse. If they don’t really know what a term meansthey might guess, and you might be getting inaccurate data in return.3. Forgetting your manners. It sounds trite but it is really true. We need to berespectful of the people who are taking our surveys. An occasional “please” and “thankyou” goes a long way. In the survey opening, use polite text to set the context andinvite them to the survey. Remember, they’re doing us a favor. At the end of thesurvey, there should be a clear and distinct thank you message, especially if this is asurvey going to your own customers. I’m stunned at how abrupt many surveys end. IfI’m a customer and I’ve just given you 5, 10, or maybe even 15 minutes of my time toanswer your survey, and it simply ends at the last screen, that’s not really very nice.
    • Here’s some possible text: “Thank you. Your opinions are very important and will helpus to improve our products and services.” Or, “Thank you. Your input has beenextremely valuable. Stay tuned to our company newsletter to hear how we’ll beapplying these important research results.” Let them know that it wasn’t just anacademic exercise; that you plan to actually use the research.While it is great to see that there are so many free and low-cost survey tools availabletoday, such as Ask Your Target Market, SurveyGizmo, QuestionPro, SurveyMonkey,and Zoomerang, there are lots of mistakes that people can easily make when writingsurveys. Finding a great tool may be easy these days, but writing a great survey is not.Author Bio:For more expert tips on market research subscribe to Research Rockstars free newsletterat http://www.researchrockstar.com.Free Membership Pass: Get unlimited access to Research Rockstars mini-courses, newsletters, e-books, and RFP templates: http://www.researchrockstar.com/amember/signup.php.Have a market research question? Kathryn Korostoff is president of Research Rockstar, acompany that delivers online and in-person training to busy professionals seeking marketresearch excellence. Kathryn is a market research professional with a special interest in howorganizations acquire, manage, and apply market research. Over the past 20 years, she haspersonally directed more than 600 primary market research projects and published over 100bylined articles in trade magazines. http://twitter.com/ResearchRocks