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Creating a Great Marketing Research Survey

There are dozens of tools and methods for market research, but one of the most powerful—and one of the easiest to create and deploy—is the humble survey questionnaire. Whether you use it to explore potential new markets or take the temperature of current customers, it’s a method that gets responses and delivers data that’s readily organized and analyzed.

Building a great survey that gets results is not difficult, it just requires thought, planning, and adherence to some smart practices. Let’s review some tips for putting together a truly solid survey.

Define the scope carefully

Good market research is valuable, but don’t try to get everything right away. Keep the scope of the survey modest, dealing with one subject or a relatively tight group of them. You might even restrict the survey to one well-defined segment of your customer base.

Offer an incentive, and mention it in immediate followup

A potential reward will increase the response rate, and can be as simple as giving the respondent a discount or entering them in a contest drawing. However, the most important part of the process (especially with online surveys) is to acknowledge their effort and the incentive right away with a “Thank you, you are now entered” or “Thank you, here is your discount code” email.

Keep the questions simple and limited in number

Surveys should not go beyond 30 or so questions, with 12 to 15 being a good minimum number. For customer satisfaction surveys meant to get the respondent’s impression of a single purchase or interaction, you should ask even fewer questions. Four to six is the sweet spot.

All questions should be simple and concise, to avoid confusion. Remember that you know far more about your products and aims than the respondents; don’t let that “curse of knowledge” cause you to create questions that are difficult to answer clearly.

Offer an out

Some questions may not apply to every respondent, so make sure you include a “Not Applicable” option on questions that are multiple choice or use a rating. Otherwise the respondent is forced to give an inaccurate answer.

Construct your ranking questions in a uniform way

If you’re asking respondents to rate something on a scale, use the same scale in each question, and make sure they all have their good and bad ratings in the same spots.

For example, if you use a 1 to 5 rating scale on the first question, with 1 being worst and 5 being best, use that same system on all subsequent rating questions. That way you’ll avoid confusion and get accurate ratings.

Include open-ended questions and a final comment block

Some of your best information will come from asking open-ended questions which require the respondent to elaborate. These answers will help you understand where the customer is coming from and how they are interacting with your business in ways that are far beyond what even the best series of rating questions can give you.

Be sure to include an “Additional Comments” space allowing the respondent to give whatever feedback they wish. The (often surprising!) answers you receive there can make you aware of blind spots and/or let respondents give you some of the best kudos you’ll ever receive.

Leave demographic questions for the end

Why not ask for this simple information up front? These questions are the easiest to answer and require the least thought, but might also be perceived as “too personal.” Save them until the respondent has spent time and energy on tougher queries.

Looking for help with market research?

At V2, we’ve provided full service marketing for many years, and can provide the expertise you need. Get in touch with us today, and let’s see how we can improve your market research together.


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