Not All Surveys Are Made Equally: Survey Do’s and Dont’s

Surveys are revolutionary because it’s an easy and relatively affordable and accurate way to obtain data from a sample. However, not all surveys are created equally. An excellent survey must gather appropriate data and provide new insights. Surveys are easier to make than we think; the most important thing is to remain focused on the overall outcome. What are you trying to answer?

Here are some golden rules for survey making:

  1. Be as specific and clear as possible. You want your audience to comprehend your question correctly without you being there to explain it. Respondents should be able to answer questions without it stressing them out. Also, let respondents be as specific as possible when it comes to their salary, locations, and ages. It allows for more accurate data, and you can group it however you’d like later.
  2. Identify your target and make sure they’re the ones answering your survey questions. Your survey should get to the point from the start. Ask a question to identify if the respondent is whom you want to talk to. If so, they’ll proceed with the survey. If not, their survey will end quickly. Be sure to grab their demographic data anyway; it could you better identify whom you need to be talking to instead.
  3. Do not create a bias. Be objective and neutral when you talk to respondents. Skewed questions will produce skewed results because respondents might feel inclined to answer a certain way, or they might be embarrassed to be honest. Make them feel as comfortable as a conversation with a pal.

It’s critical to make sure your survey meets at least those golden rules above, or else the data you obtained will be irrelevant and unusable. Data isn’t just data anymore. It needs to be reliable and answer questions. It must be accurate to answer your research objective. You can’t talk to every member of your audience, so you need to make the odds work in your favor.

For example, let’s say you want to learn more about how an audience feels about a fast-food brand. You would clear about the brand, that it’s fast food, and the specific attributes or products of the restaurant. To assess if the respondent is ideal for this survey, you should start by asking if they tried the brand or at least heard about it. Based on your goal, you’d create a skip question that takes respondents to the end of the survey for demographic data collection if they don’t provide the answer you need to ask them about the brand. Allowing anyone to answer can create the perception that the brand is possibly unliked even if they rank highly on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, and social listening showed mostly positive reviews. Surveys should work for you; you shouldn’t have to work extra hard to make a survey make sense for your research and business goals.

Platforms like Survey Monkey and Constant Contact also provide practical tips for creating surveys on their programs that can be applied to virtually any survey. Your survey can be great if you let it be.

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