6 Steps To Conducting An Online Survey

The anonymity that the Internet provides makes it the ideal environment for asking your customers what they really think about your business, product, or service. An online survey can reveal customers’ true opinions, as well as enabling them to share ideas with you in a safe and comfortable environment. Setting up the best online survey is easy when you use these six steps to guide you in the process.

1. Decide on your research goals

Before you can start your research, you will need to form a clear picture in your mind of your survey objectives and the expected outcome. Do you need feedback on a product or your service? Is the information you are looking for of a general nature or very specific? Do you have a particular audience in mind, or will you be sending out online surveys to the general public? The answers to these questions will help you to decide how to target your survey.

What gives?

Creating a survey without first establishing “why” is a bit like travelling to a new destination without a map or directions. You may chance upon the place you were trying to reach, but will you know you’re there?

Read our guide to setting objectives

2. Create a list of questions

There are many different types of questions that can be used on a survey, like open questions, closed questions, matrix table questions, and single- or multi-response questions. Most people who take part in surveys prefer short multiple-choice questions. When writing the questions, keep the language very simple and avoid ambiguity or double negations. One of the benefits of designing an online survey is that participants don’t have to fill in questions that are not relevant to them. Based on their answers subsequent questions can be skipped using logic and piping, improving response rates.

3. Invite the participants

There are many ways to invite people to take part in your online survey. Who you want to take part in your survey will help you to decide on the best distribution method. You can send an email to your subscriber list, post your survey on Facebook, send surveys by SMS or design a banner that can be displayed on other websites if you wish to cast a wider net. If your research goals require targeting a specific audience you can buy survey responses from a dedicated consumer panel.

4. Gather your responses

It is important to monitor your response rate, as your final sample size will depend on how many participants complete your survey. In many cases you can increase the response rate by offering an incentive to the participant, for example, you can offer a gift, the chance of winning something in a lottery, a donation to charity, or a points accumulation system where participant can save up points that can be exchanged for gifts. Another way of increasing the response rate of your survey is by promising to share the results with your participants.

5. Analyse the results

Visualise your data by presenting the results in charts and graphs, as this will help you quickly reference your results in reports. You can also make use of text analysis and word clouds on open ended questions to pick out common response trends. You can also print out the data in the form of a spreadsheet, which can then be exported for further analysis. With online surveys the gathered data is stored automatically, so you can start analysing the results straight away. In most cases, you can already see preliminary results while the survey is still open.

6. Write a report

The final step in conducting online surveys is to produce a report explaining your findings and whether they have met your research goals. A successful survey will provide reliable answers to the questions you had about your business, product or service, allowing you to take data-driven actions based on hard evidence. Used correctly online surveys can effectively measure customer satisfaction, get feedback on products or services, and reveal key influences in your area of research.

The process for conducting an online survey is easy and inexpensive. SmartSurvey can provide you with all the tools and features needed to help you in designing your survey. Most businesses’ needs can be met with simple and short online surveys that target a specific group of customers. The results, on the other hand, are priceless, because they will help you make important and informed decisions about your business.

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