Among the things made faster, easier and cheaper by the Internet is the process for obtaining feedback from the people we serve. In business, we may want to obtain feedback from our customers, our employees and even our vendors and suppliers. Feedback may also be sought by members of an association, donors to a charitable cause, congregants in a religious organization, participants in an event or any other community of people who can tell us how we are doing.
Conducting surveys online is one way to obtain this kind of feedback. Several free or low-cost "do-it-yourself" platforms are out there that allow you to create and execute an online survey and review the data that comes back. SurveyMonkey and Surveygizmo two of the more widely used examples of these tools.
With online surveys, you need a way of reaching your target audience. This is most often achieved by providing a survey link in an email. However, online surveys can also be posted in social media accounts like Facebook or Twitter, embedded in a page on your website or provided on a computer or tablet made available as a kiosk. If your target audience cannot be reached in one of these ways, you can elect to pay for responses from a research panel. Research panels are groups of people who agree to take surveys and are compensated for their time through rewards or points programs.
Here are some tips for conducting a successful online survey.
First, keep the questionnaire short and sweet. Leave out the things that would be nice to know and focus on just those things you really need to know.
Second, provide an incentive or "hook" to encourage participation, especially if you are asking for more than a couple of minutes of someone's time. Why should they take the time to participate in your study?
Third, be upfront with how much time you are asking for. Nobody likes to be 15 minutes invested in a survey they were told will only take five minutes.
Fourth, avoid asking too many things at once. If you have ever been asked to rate 12 items on a scale from 1 to 5, you know that after the first couple of items you lose interest and your attention wanders.
Finally, never use surveys as a sales or fund-raising gimmick. In the industry, this is called "sugging" or "frugging" (Selling or Fund-Raising Under the Guise of research) and is not acceptable under the industry codes and standards of marketing research.
Following these design tips will help insure your survey yields useful feedback and gives your organization guidance on how to improve and prosper.
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Andrew Richardson is a survey research consultant, the founder of Lucidity Research, LLC and a member of the Carroll Technology Council. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Carroll Tech Council, please visit its website at http://www.carrolltechcouncil.org or contact Kati Townsley, Executive Director, at email@example.com or 443-244-1262.