Online Survey Creation Guide


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Stay connected to your customers using online surveys. A well-crafted survey will engage users, provide the feedback you need and show your customers that you value them.

No matter the industry or reason, there is an online survey for you. This guide will cover:

Reasons For Conducting Surveys
Best Practices
How To Best Design A Survey
Analyzing Those Juicy Results

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Online Survey Creation Guide

  1. 1. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION Copyright SimplyCast 2013
  2. 2. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION This guide is for organizations of any size or individuals wanting to know the basics of online survey creation to collect targeted feedback and information. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION By Michael Cusden Michael Cusden, an inbound marketing manager at SimplyCast, is responsible for creating ebooks, whitepapers and online marketing guides. Michael is a prolific blogger who also manages content for SimplyCast’s website and user application. He has expertise in content marketing, social media marketing and occasionally has time to Tweet about it. To learn more follow @simplycast or @michaelcusden WHY SHOULD BUSINESSES BE TAKING ADVANTAGE OF ONLINE SURVEYS? Survey Says: - Online surveys can help identify differences across market segments. - Online surveys can help developers of products, services or programs to gauge the market’s response to new development concepts. - Online surveys can reveal audience preferences for design, features, applications, etc. - Online surveys can measure customer service satisfaction levels and identify weaknesses and strengths in your strategy or processes.  - Online surveys can evaluate attitudes of customers, clients, and employees - Online surveys can reveal how the market feels about your competitors’ products and positioning. - Online surveys can measure the effectiveness, clarity or emotional impact of a message to an audience. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 2
  4. 4. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION WHY CONDUCT ONLINE SURVEYS So, you have heard of online surveys but how exactly can they benefit your company or business? Before I dive into best practices and the designing of a survey, let’s focus on what exactly there is to gain by asking questions. 1 Collect Valuable Data In Real-Time The purpose of creating and sending out online surveys is to collect data, as with any traditional survey. Whether it is market research for your product or researching industry trends, an online survey is the best way to get results fast. The great thing about online surveys is that you can create them in almost no time at all and be collecting data. Then once the results are coming in, you can review them in almost real-time due to everything being online and accessible 24 hours/day. 2 Learn from Your Results Online surveys are great for collecting customer input about your product or service. Send one out every few months to better gauge customer satisfaction, enquire into new feature ideas, learn how customers are using your product or service, and record any general feedback. I also recommend having feedback outlets on your website or application all the time. Use the surveys as a larger request a few times a year. This way you are sure to get the biggest sample of your audience. It should go without saying that the key is to take what you learn and put it into practice. Customers will be happy to see their input being put to good use and, more importantly, will keep providing you with feedback. If they think you are not listening they will stop trying to help you out and maybe even stop using your service altogether. 3 Become a Thought Leader No matter the topic of your survey, the results will be valuable data. But what if you could turn that data into lead generation and present your company as an authority or leader? It is very possible. If you conduct an online survey about industry trends, for example, you will find yourself holding a lot of valuable data in your hands. Chances are, other people in your industry are going to find it valuable too. Publishing your data with a thorough analysis of its implications will position you as a thought leader on that topic and generate new leads and followers for your company. Publishing such information to other B2B and B2C marketers not only has benefits for you but it provides information that benefits them as well. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 4
  5. 5. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION 3 Turn Data into Content If you do choose to publish your online survey results, get creative with the kinds of content you can produce. Not only can you publish your data in a press release, but you can also turn it into a blog post, infographic, video, marketing ebook or a case study. People love visuals when it comes to statistics and data, so keep that in mind and take advantage of graphs and charts to make the data less intimidating and more understandable. As you can see, you can gain a lot from a simple online survey without any significant investments in time or money. Before Making an Online Survey Okay, so you now understand why you should be asking questions to your customers, readers and anyone else you want to target. But what else should you work on before laying out your survey? Some important questions need to be answered before even considering designing a survey. In fact these questions are important to consider before even deciding whether a questionnaire survey is the right way to go. First ask yourself or your team: What is it that you really want to find out with your research? • Can the survey help me find answers for this problem? • Who are the right people to ask? • How can you reach them? • What is needed to make them understand your questions? These are just a few of the issues you need to be clear about before you even decide that an online survey is the way to go. So, you have come to the final conclusion that a survey is the way to go. Great decision! Otherwise, this guide would not be that helpful going forward now would it? Copyright SimplyCast 2013 5
  6. 6. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION What Makes A Good Survey? There are 3 features of an online survey which are a must for success. 1. The questions are clear and precise, collectively allowing for detailed, unambiguous and meaningful answers. 2. All predefined answers provided and their formats are appropriate to the question. 3. There is room for people to add additional information if they need to. On top of that, always keep the user experience in mind. This is very important. Look at the survey as a person answering it. If you have trouble with certain questions, take them out. Reading, scrolling and clicking can be tedious options, so: 1. Avoid any unnecessary questions. 2. Use conditions to avoid asking questions not relevant for a specific participant. 3. Keep questions and answers short and easily readable. 4. Think about the trade-off between scrolling and clicking. Display everything on one page for short questionnaires (5-15 questions). Use grouping wisely for longer questionnaires. 5. Avoid confusing participants with different scales, i.e. limit the amount of different scale types, scale scopes and scale descriptions as much as possible. Try not to change the direction of scales. 6. For rating scales it might be useful to use an even number of rating options so the user has to decide for a certain direction. There are so many types of online surveys that it is hard to truly define what makes a good survey. But the above details are tried and true examples of what to include and plan out for your next questionnaire or data gathering expedition. Top Take Aways COLLECT VALUABLE DATA IN REAL-TIME PLAN EVERYTHING BEFORE EVEN CHOOSING QUESTIONS LEARN FROM YOUR RESULTS KNOW WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO FIND OUT WITH YOUR RESEARCH BECOME A THOUGHT LEADER USE THE BEST STYLE OR LAYOUT TO MATCH YOUR OBJECTIVES TURN DATA INTO CONTENT Copyright SimplyCast 2013 6
  7. 7. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION BEST PRACTICES OF AN ONLINE SURVEY Right, best practices. Did you think you were going to get away with not reading about the correct things to do when it comes to surveys? No chance. You want your survey to work, so following best practices is the only way to go. To help you gather feedback from your customers, donors, members, and constituents, I have done the gathering and have assembled the best practices for effectively building and promoting an online survey. By sticking to the following must-do’s, you are giving your next online survey the best chance to be a success while collecting the important data you need. Single, Well-Defined Survey Objective What feedback do you really want from your customers? Narrow down the objective, or what you want to know, to the key questions that get to the point quickly. For example, when conducting a post-campaign satisfaction survey, stick to questions surrounding the creation and nothing more. This will keep your survey focused and help avoid adding extra questions that are not really needed. Take a few minutes to plan your survey and consider what you want to get out of the results before building your questions. Keep The Survey Short Ideally, a survey should take five minutes or less to complete in order to get the best response rate. Anything longer than 10 minutes should be re-thought, or survey takers should be given an incentive for using that much of their time to answer your questions. You also risk getting poor responses as people will just start clicking options without reading just to finish. Also try to avoid questions with more than 10 answer options. Too many options for a single answer can confuse the survey taker and slow down completion time. Break the question into multiple questions or consider another way to phrase and answer it. Keep in mind, the stronger the relationship between the scope of the survey and the respondent group you have sent it to, the higher the response rate you will enjoy and the greater the acceptance will be for answering longer surveys. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 7
  8. 8. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION That said, respondents should be informed up front how much time is expected to complete the survey. If it is estimated that it will take eight minutes, then write eight minutes, not four minutes. Another important guideline is that rather than creating long, extensive surveys, which you send out infrequently you should aim for short, precise surveys that are sent out on a more frequent basis. It is tempting to add questions which are nice to have since you already have the respondent’s attention. Do not do this, because if you’re not concise you run the risk of not receiving any answers at all. Design Survey For Easy Measurement When you ask a question, you want to be able to understand the results. Yes or no, up or down, good or bad. You get the idea: leave no room for a grey area. The key is to ask closed-ended questions that generate results that are easy to analyze, spot trends, and set baselines. A good example of a closed-ended question is: What SimplyCast service do you use the most: 1. Email marketing 2. SMS marketing 3. Facebook marketing Using too many open-ended questions that require respondents to type out responses (i.e., “What do you like about our email product?”) will take time to read and further analyze. Plus, they make for a longer survey completion time, which nobody really likes. Closed-ended questions make it easy for the survey taker to speed through the questions and give you easily quantifiable data. Remember, more and more people will be taking the survey on their Smartphone or tablet, meaning they are in a hurry and on the go. Take this into consideration when focusing on the speed factor of your survey. Ask For One Thing Per Question No two-parters, no follow-ups, no scenarios. Just one topic per question. Seems simple enough, but it is an easy trap to fall into when creating questions. Avoid such enquiries as “Do you like driving cars and cooking?” These are two unrelated subjects and should be broken into separate questions that will allow survey takers to answer both independently. Also make sure to give respondents the chance to answer the question with an “Other”, “Prefer Not to Answer”, or “Not Applicable” option where necessary. The reason for this option is, while vague, it can provide better insight than a non-answer. It is best when giving an option of “Other,” to provide a text box for write-in answers. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 8
  9. 9. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION Avoid Biasing A Response Ask questions in a way that does not sway or add bias into answers. For example, when gauging a customer’s likelihood of referring your business to friends, use a scale that ranges from “not very likely” to “extremely likely” with a few options in between. Avoid using “always” or “never” extremes as they can bias responses in the opposite direction. It is very easy and common for a company or individual without the proper market research education and experience to make this mistake. This extends to many things, from the way a question is phrased to the types of responses which are available. Even the way an interviewer presents the questions (whether data is being collected by phone or in-person, for example) will affect the answers people give. Here are a couple of examples of questions that are obviously skewed: • “Don’t you agree that our new product meets all your needs and expectations?” • “Most people find our level of service to be excellent. Do you?” Avoid Ambiguity A question that can mean different things for different people is an ambiguous question. Using, for example, generic wording or words with double meanings can often lead to ambiguity. Using ambiguous phrasing may mean that the person answering is really not sure what the question means. Watch Your Language It can be tempting to “spice up” the questions you ask or try to be funny. After all it may fit in with your normal content and company voice. But you should avoid phrasing that could result in stereotypical answers or that provoke the respondents. This may include words such as “radical”, “old fashioned”, “progressive”, or “extremist”. Cliches and slang should also be avoided, in addition to any foreign words and abbreviations that may cause confusion. Keep it simple. The more you try to jazz it up, the more you are probably hurting your survey. Save the “spice” and humour for the welcome page or thank you page, not the actual questions. Keep Required Questions To A Minimum Too many required questions in a survey can ruin the flow and likely decrease your response rate. People don’t like to be forced to do something, especially when taking time to answer a survey. I recommend making required questions only those that you absolutely need to make a business decision. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 9
  10. 10. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION Question Order Is Important The first question or two should be easy and interesting in order to engage the respondent and get them into the flow of the survey quickly. Place profile or demographic related questions at the end of the survey to avoid scaring people off. If a person has taken the time to answer all your questions first, they are more likely to provide at least some of their profile information at the end. I also recommend not wasting a person’s time. If there are requirements to the survey, have those first to answer. Don’t put them at the end so someone learns they can’t complete the survey after spending time on it. My advice would be to start your survey with a “warm up” phase where you ask simple questions to get your respondent acquainted with the survey setting and at ease with the situation. Then move into the more important and demanding questions. These questions form the main part of the survey. Towards the end, you move into the “cool off” phase where you ask for demographics, additional comments, etc. Create A Logical Flow A survey is no different than telling a story or presenting a case. There needs to be a logical flow that makes the survey feel easy to understand and finish. Group questions that cover similar topics together and use text boxes to introduce each section of the survey. Don’t jump back and forth between topics. Page breaks should be used to break up longer surveys to prevent what seems like an endless scroll of questions. A side benefit to page breaks is that they provide for an auto-save of prior responses every time someone clicks on them. Why an auto-save? Well, it can help you get some answers if the person decides to leave before completion. Avoid Mutually Exclusive Answers A common mistake is using categories that do not exclude each other. For example: “How old are you?” • Below 25 years • 25-35 years • 35-45 years • 45-55 years • 55 years or older In this case the respondent is asked to provide only one answer, and if the respondent is 35 years old, he or she can choose two of the offered alternatives. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 10
  11. 11. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION Test The Survey In every whitepaper I put together, it is almost a guarantee I will mention testing at some point. Testing is a must for any type of marketing. Testing should be so ingrained into your process that you don’t even think about it anymore. Surveys are no different. Once you have built your survey, send it to a couple of trusted associates or friends for testing purposes. Have them time how long it takes to complete and provide feedback on the overall flow of the survey. You can also check on the test entries to ensure the answer format will provide useful data. Are answers generating in the reports? This is also the perfect chance to do a final check on spelling, format and any graphical elements. Set Expectations Make it clear what time expectations are for the survey in your invite and on the welcome page. When using an email survey invitation or a survey greeting page, tell the audience why you are asking these questions, provide an estimated completion time, and explain what you will be doing with the data collected. The more transparent you are, the more trusted you will be in the eyes of the survey takers. There is nothing worse than being led to believe a survey is something it is not. Never Assume or Take Things for Granted Respondents may not have knowledge or strong opinions about issues that do not affect them on a day-to-day basis. It is therefore important to make sure that you do not take things for granted when asking questions. Words and definitions may have different meanings for different individuals and groups. In addition, a questionnaire is not a test meant to reveal the extent of knowledge that the respondent has on a specific subject. Stick to the obvious facts about what you are trying to learn. If you have a very detailed survey that involves specifics, you need to send that to a targeted list that matches your subject. For example, you will get different results asking questions about your services to current clients and to those who don’t use you. Target Wisely This means, simply put, get your survey in front of the right people. To get the most out of your survey efforts, you have to get the right people to take it. This will provide the feedback about your organization or product that you are looking for. Your stated objective and how well you understand your customers will determine the appropriate audience for your survey. For a good response rate, I recommend sending it to the segment of your audience that will care most about the topic(s). How will you know who these people are? Well, all that information should be found in the lists you have been gathering and optimizing over time. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 11
  12. 12. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION Share Results With Respondents Once the survey is complete and the data is collected and analyzed, let the respondents know what you have learned and what actions you will be taking as a result. Following up with respondents (and customers in general) helps validate your relationship with them and sends the message that their opinions make a difference. When customers feel like a part of a business, they’re more likely to provide feedback in the future. If the information is industry related, you can also turn these findings into valuable content for lead generation purposes. Press releases, infographics, whitepapers and blog posts will help share your findings to enforce your place as an authority in your space. There is so much that can be done with data. The key is making sure you first collect it properly and let your respondents know you will be using it publicly. Time to Create By sticking to the mentioned best practices, you are giving your next online survey the best chance to be a success and get the important data you need. Be creative and try new ideas. After each survey, look at the metrics and optimize to make the next survey even better. There is not a perfect survey out there but by following the rules you can get pretty darn close. Top Take Aways HAVE A WELL-DEFINED SURVEY OBJECTIVE KEEP REQUIRED QUESTIONS TO A MINIMUM KEEP THE SURVEY SHORT QUESTION ORDER IS IMPORTANT ASK FOR ONE THING PER QUESTION DESIGN SURVEY FOR EASY MEASUREMENT AVOID BIASING A RESPONSE CREATE A LOGICAL FLOW TEST THE SURVEY SET EXPECTATIONS Copyright SimplyCast 2013 12
  13. 13. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION CREATING, LAUNCHING AND TRACKING YOUR SURVEY Now that you understand the logic behind an online survey and what best practices to follow, it is time to create, design and craft your masterpiece. Surveys are more than adding questions to a list and publishing. A successful online survey is a work of art and takes time to create. Here is a process that I find works best when putting together a survey. Some of these points are repeated from the best practices section. This is not a mistake. It is to clearly let you know that they are very important to do. I will cover the look and feel, including images, graphics and more after breaking down the skeleton of the survey. Step 1 - Define your goals Before you write your questionnaire, ask yourself and your colleagues, “What do we want to learn?” Make a list of research objectives and narrow it down to your top 3-5 goals. There is no sense bothering your list of respondents if you don’t know what you need in the first place. Step 2 - Create list of questions Think of all the questions possible that pertain to each of your goals. Don’t restrict yourself by type of question or number of questions. Simply write everything that you would ask a potential respondent if you could. Use plain language that can be refined later on. Don’t sweat the small stuff at this stage. Step 3 - Refine your survey Choose the best 10-20 questions from step 2, making sure you have a good mix of research goals. Refine each question one by one by making it into one of the types below. • Rating scale: Respondents will answer this question using a range, the most popular being 1-4 (no option for neutral) and 1-5 (typical scale question with a neutral option). Example: “Please rate your satisfaction with our email marketing product on a scale of 1-5” • Multiple choice, one answer: Respondents must choose a single answer from a list. Example: “Which type of marketing most influenced you to sign up to our application?” where the options are search engine, newsletter, online ad, blog post etc. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 13
  14. 14. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION • Multiple choice, multiple answers: Respondents select one or more options from a list of answers. Example: “Which types of marketing helped convince you to sign up for our product?” A respondent who had found you on a search engine and a blog post could answer yes to both. • Matrix of choices, one answer per row: Use this to ask the same question about multiple items. Example: If you want your customers to rate satisfaction for 10 features, you can group these features together and ask for the same rating. • Matrix of choices, multiple answers per row: Respondents have the flexibility to select any box in a matrix. Example: “Please select what type of marketing you would use to promote your business.” Respondents could then say they used Twitter, Facebook, press releases, PPC ads etc. • Ranking questions: This question forces respondents to put a preselected list of items in order. Example: “Please rank the list of product features listed below by your satisfaction with each.” • Open text – one answer: Respondents can answer whatever they like, giving you a more qualitative gauge of how well your company is meeting its objectives. This is also a great place to gather testimonials with a question like “Why would you recommend our company to a colleague?” • Open text – multiple answers: Here you can discover choices that you don’t know or cannot predict. If you’re not very familiar with what features your customers even value, you can have respondents list the features they want and normalize the responses. Step 4 - Transform yes/no questions If you have any yes/no questions in your survey, try to transform them into rating questions. For example, change this question: “Are you satisfied with our product?” into this one: “Please rate your satisfaction with our product on a scale of 1-5.” Step 5 – Engage with a welcome page Why would someone want to take your survey? What is in it for them? You have a short amount of time to engage a person to actually take your survey, so make it count. In a short and concise way, you need to explain why they should take the survey, what it will do and what they will get out of it (incentive, improved service etc.) Less is more for this stage of the game. Also give the respondent a time frame of how long the survey will take. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 14
  15. 15. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION Step 6 - Start your survey with a grounding question Begin your questionnaire with a generic question like “How satisfied are you with our product?” By doing this, you can compare the other ratings to this initial one. This can also serve as a great satisfaction benchmark over time. Step 7 – Thank you, thank you, thank you Thank your respondents and provide a call to action. The survey is done, so now what? On a thank you page, you could explain what will happen with the results, promote a coupon code and link to buy, or more information on your company. This is a critical touch point where the respondent is ready to act. Make it count. Step 8 - Test your survey by phone Call some of your potential respondents or those helping you test and see how they answer your questions. Look for any misunderstandings or areas where you could further clarify what you want. You would be amazed at how you can optimize by actually saying things out loud. Step 9 - Market your survey If you have a customer list, sending emails with an incentive works well in generating responses. Your customers know a lot about you from first-hand experience, and surveying them will help you enormously. Don’t go overboard with the incentive though, because then you will just get people who are taking the survey to win or score the prize. Their answers may not have any value as they just rushed through to get to the end. Another example would be for testing website usability. Simply post a link to your survey on your homepage, or as a pop-up on exiting your website. Step 10 - Compile responses Make sure you have an easy way to get your responses into a spreadsheet. Most survey software services will provide simple exporting functions. You will want to explore responses in different ways, cross-tabulating different questions and comparing to any in-house data you have. You will have a lot of data to comb through, so making sure you are collecting it and able to look at it in a simple way is important. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 15
  16. 16. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION Step 11 - Analyze the responses Look at the survey data you have collected, preferably with a visual analytics if available. This will help you understand how your respondents are thinking and what they want. Whenever you come across an actionable piece of information, take note. As a business, you want to be able to spot trends and act on them. A nice pie chart or graph showing what customers are feeling is great for that. Step 12 - Compile your report Focus on the initial goals of your research and show your conclusions. Are customers happy with your product? Yes, they rated us at 4.7 / 5.0. Which features do they find most important? They care most about A and B. Are they satisfied with what they think is important? They love A, but aren’t as keen on how we present B. As you are going over these points, are they matching up with your initial plan of what you wanted to learn? Step 13 - Create an action plan List the actions you hope to take regarding each conclusion. Do the results show that customer service seems to be lacking after hours? Then add “look into adding more support after closes” to your action plan. If customers consider feature C very important, but don’t seem satisfied, do more research to find out why. This is where you can drill down on another survey and focus entirely on feature C in this case. BE CLEAR ON THE PURPOSE OF THE SURVEY Why are you conducting the survey? What should be the scope of the survey? Who do you want to respond to the survey? Copyright SimplyCast 2013 16
  17. 17. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION SHARE! Visual Tips For Surveys Is there anything more boring than screen after screen of text? Just as it is important to provide different question types to keep things interesting for the respondents, it is also important to give them something visually stimulating as well. Incorporating images or visuals in your survey will go a long way in keeping people engaged in your questions. Whether you start with a simple logo or go further and show actual product images, screen shots and mock-ups, your respondent feedback will be higher quality. An online survey that looks good and is presented well will have a higher response rate than one that looks like it has been thrown together quickly. Pay attention to layout, fonts, and colours, and incorporate design elements from your business website, like your logo. Using visuals, like images or video, can stimulate participants’ memory. If you would like to know if people remember or noticed your last mailing or advertisement, include it in the survey to jog participants’ memory. Ready to Design Your Survey? Online surveys are an easy and cost-effective way to find out how your customers feel about your business, and applying these tips will help you to get the most out of your online survey. The results of the surveys can be used to fine-tune products and services, and they can even be used to make important decisions about the directions of your business as a whole. Top Take Aways DEFINE YOUR GOALS WATCH LANGUAGE AND DON’T SWAY THE RESPONDENTS CREATE LIST OF QUESTIONS AND REFINE CREATE A FLOW OF QUESTIONS – EASY, HARD AND DEMOGRAPHIC TEST YOUR SURVEY TO FINE TUNE COMPILE A REPORT AND CREATE A PLAN OF ACTION COLLECT DATA AND PULL RESULTS MAKE YOUR SURVEY VISUALLY APPEALING Copyright SimplyCast 2013 17
  18. 18. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION ANALYZING SURVEY RESULTS The surveys have been sent and the data has been collected. Now what? Time to pour over the results of course. For a survey marketer, this is the best part. All that raw data just sitting there full of answers and solutions. If you can learn to read the data, it is all there. Simply put, you are learning about your customers and gaining a better understanding of their tastes, preferences, issues, thoughts and concerns. Also, you are learning about the relative temperature of your company from your customers’ point of view. What you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and ultimately how you can improve. The customer provides more insight into your company than a team of hired consultants, feedback from your staff or even your bottom line. Truly, the importance of customer surveys is market research: the more you know about them, the better you can serve them. Only the brave ask for this unfiltered feedback, let alone delve into potentially devastating information. So, what do you do with it? Listen. Learn. Change. Identify the most important questions first. • • • • • • • • • • • • • Who are your customers? What are their demographics? Where do they live? (Optional) How old are they? (Optional) What is the annual household income? (Optional) What is their purchase history? What is the frequency of their purchases? Do they have email updates? Would they like contact from you? What type of contact would they like from you? Would they like recommendations for other products and services? Are they likely to recommend your company? What are their concerns with your products, services or customer service? Copyright SimplyCast 2013 18
  19. 19. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION Identify the most important questions first Though these questions seem simple and straightforward, these are the most crucial compared to any other type. Essentially, the way to get the most from your data is to first understand who your customers actually are. This will give you a baseline for future surveys. Regularly review data collected. Truly, there’s no point in collecting the data in the first place without regular and consistent analysis. Beyond asking the right questions, it is even more imperative to understand and digest what exactly your customers are telling you. Say, you send out surveys through your emails every couple of months, then that gives you less than a month to tear apart, digest and implement any changes learned from the information collected. Say you have a floating survey box that appears on your website. That means that you’re going to receive data daily, if not hourly (though it helps, in this case, to provide an incentive to do so), then you’ve an obligation to review that information as it comes in. Compile it. Analyze it. Compare it to other surveys. This is the best and only way to get the most from your data. This baseline is what you’re going to build additional surveys from. Even then, always, always, always review your data regularly. How to Analyze Your Data Analyzing the information that you gathered from your surveys can be challenging. Though many survey software systems have an automated data analysis tool – similarly to website or email analytics – you still need to understand what the data means. Furthermore, for those who don’t have the privilege of an automated data analysis system, we’ll guide you through how to look at your data and how to interpret it. But first: the most important yet basic number you need to start with is the number of online surveys sent (if you did so through email). This also applies to the number of surveys completed from your website. The number of surveys is the fundamental number that helps you calculate and interpret the rest of your data. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 19
  20. 20. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION Complete Surveys Next to the number of surveys sent out or posted on your website, this is the second most critical number to know. Not only does this number provide the starting point upon which the rest of your data is based, it also gives you an idea how intriguing or relevant your survey is. To Calculate For surveys sent via email, take the total number of surveys sent and divide it by the total number of completed surveys. (100 completed out of 200 sent is 50%). For surveys available on your website, take the total number of surveys completed and divide it by the total number of hits. This data point is a bit trickier and not as straightforward as surveys sent via email. Some of the problems you encounter may stem from where the survey is available on your website. It may be easier if your survey pops up when a customer clicks on your home page. Since the survey is available to everyone who visits your site, this percentage is easier to calculate. If your survey is available as a landing page and appears in, say, a sidebar of your home page, then it becomes a bit trickier. However, if a survey pops up after a customer purchases a product from your site, say, before completing a sale, then you’ll be able to capture this information more easily. Incomplete Surveys This percentage is the opposite of completed surveys, but the statistic is equally as critical. If you have a mechanism to track how many people started your survey and then cancelled it midway through, what it shows is that your survey is lacking in some way. This percentage may seem a bit disheartening but it demonstrates several key factors: • The necessity of pre-testing • The quality of questions • The variety of answers • The relevance of the survey To Calculate Take the total number of incomplete surveys and divide it by the total number of surveys available. Compare this percentage to the percentage of surveys completed. You may be shocked at the result. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 20
  21. 21. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION If the number of incomplete surveys outweighs the number of completed surveys you know s omething is up with your survey. Time to reevaluate. Opens Outright, this may seem to only apply to email-based surveys, but it has complete relevance to web-based surveys. The percentage of opens generated shows how effective your “hook” or incentive is. If the lure sucks, then no one will respond. To Calculate Essentially, this calculation is exactly like the others, in that you take the total number of opens and divide it by the total number of surveys sent. Again, this also applies to web-based surveys. Click-Throughs (Website) Essentially, this data point demonstrates how intriguing your online survey is and whether your customers are interested in learning more about you. Visiting your website after they’ve completed your survey also indicates whether your incentive was compelling enough for them to immediately cash in. To piggyback on this data point, you can see how many pages your customers are visiting after the initial click-through. Typically, this data point applies mainly to surveys emailed directly to customers, but also can be used with surveys posted on your site. What’s different about click-throughs on a posted survey is that you’re looking at how many pages your customers are visiting after completion. Social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) click-throughs is another data point worth analyzing as well. Incentive (Most Successful) It is commonplace for companies to offer a variety of incentives to lure customers in to take their surveys – from coupons to online discounts, incentives are a great way to increase your survey completion rate. Taking a peek at the incentive trending will give you an idea of which works best. To analyze this data point takes a bit more work because you’ll have to backtrack and look at data from older surveys. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 21
  22. 22. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION Essentially, figure out which incentive drew in the most responses and stick with it. Also, this indicates the ratio between type of incentive and the number of website click-throughs Incentive (Least Successful) Clearly, this is the flipside of the previous data point. You may think, “Well, we already know which promotion is working the best, so why do we need to know what’s the worst?” Good point. Consider the bigger picture: knowing which incentive doesn’t work may also indicate which promotion doesn’t work in your other marketing strategies. Say it comes out that the least successful promotion is a discount on shipping. By comparing this data to your other marketing strategies, you’ll see a similar trend. From there, you’ll realize that you’re going to have to bag the shipping discount in favour of what’s universally successful. Type of Survey (Most Successful) This data also points to the correlation between the type of online survey and the percentage of completion. Also, this indicates: • The ratio of the type of survey and the percentage of customers “cashing in” your incentive. • The ratio between type of survey and the number of click-throughs to your website and social media pages. • The ratio between type of survey and the percentage of incompletes. • The relationship between type of survey, the medium (email or website posting), the percentage of completions and the percentage of incompletes. Summing Up Does your brain hurt a little after dealing with survey metric analysis? I feel for you. But it is a necessary part of a successful survey. The good news is you should have it all in front of you now. The honest feedback and the answers of what to do next. Create your action plan like I mentioned above and improve the areas that need it. These results are also ideal for optimizing your future surveys. Take everything that worked and remove variables that did not. Copyright SimplyCast 2013 22
  23. 23. ONLINE SURVEY CREATION CONCLUSION Online surveys should be a marketer’s dream. Learning what your customers support and value is the true secret for growing business. Customer feedback must be one of the main driving forces of any organization, because without happy customers, business cannot scale. That sort of feedback will not only reinforce the focus of your business but will also create a lasting relationship with your customer. It has been said that information is power. This simple cliché underscores the market control and business success that information yields. Thanks to the growth of the Internet, gathering actionable information is easier than ever. Creating engaging online surveys has never been more necessary. Remember, no matter how easy your online survey software makes the creation process, there are still best practices and design tips that must be followed for creating online surveys that yield actionable insights. Get In Touch 1.866.323.6572 Copyright SimplyCast 2013 23