Survey Best Practices: How to Get More Replies | Binary Fountain

January 20, 2020

Survey Best Practices: How to Get More Replies

By: Kieran McQuilkin

survey-questions-responsesIf you are like most business owners, you know that surveys are hard to write and even harder to be compelling enough for people to respond. Creating surveys can be frustrating, especially if you really do care about your customer or employee feedback.

Surveys, however, are a crucial part to understanding how people experience your business, your brand or even yourself if you are asking for peer-to-peer feedback.

Below we explore some of the best practices for writing surveys to ensure you are getting quality and numerous responses to your next survey.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to start with a clear goal
  • The right length for a survey
  • How to write survey questions
  • The importance of personalization
  • How to make the most of your data

Start with a Clear Goal in Mind

The key to great survey writing (and to guarantee more replies) is starting with a clear goal. What are you asking for? Why?

These will be easy for you to answer from a business perspective, but you need to understand how your questions relate to the needs of responders. Your survey should not be solely focused on your business goals. Instead, focus on your customer’s desires to attract relevant, actionable responses.

For example, your goal may look something like: “I want to understand the main reasons our customers would take their business somewhere else.”

This specific goal acknowledges a customer behavior observation and gives them a reason to respond. Unfocused surveys usually lead to confusing answers, or worse, no answers at all, so keep a true north in mind.

As long as you are able to marry your business goal with a compelling reason for your customer to take the survey, you should be on the right track.

Don’t Make the Survey Too Long

Writing survey questions seems easy, until you think of things you want to ask and suddenly your five-question survey becomes 15.

No one wants to respond to a long survey!

You aren’t doing your audience a favor by asking for their feedback: They are doing you a favor by filling out your survey so you can improve their experience with your business. Don’t make it too long or complicated for them to provide you feedback.

If your survey is more than 10 minutes long, you are probably going to want to cut back on questions.

Focusing on the right questions that will answer your clear goal should limit the amount of superfluous questions that will bog down your survey.

Ask Questions the Right Way for Better Replies

There is a reason why research and survey writers have their own niche in marketing and analytics: writing survey questions to get maximum value is hard. It takes understanding of how to use closed-ended questions and properly balance questions to get clear insights and survey responses.

First, don’t write survey questions where you try to lead a survey responder to reply in a certain way – this will lead to inauthentic feedback and potentially ruin their interest in completing your survey.

If you want to make the most of your data, you will want to have most of your response options pre-populated, like multiple-choice questions, which accurately balance every kind of response.

You may want to structure questions something like this:

How helpful or unhelpful were our nurses?

  1. Very helpful
  2. Helpful
  3. Neither helpful nor unhelpful
  4. Unhelpful
  5. Very Unhelpful

You should notice a symmetry in these potential answers and a question that demonstrates a balanced view. If you just asked, “how helpful were our nurses?” you would be implying that your nurses are helpful.

These kinds of questions are also easier for responders to answer, making them a win-win for both the survey creator and respondents.

Personalize Your Email Surveys

Emails with personalized content or subject lines tend to get above average responses.

One of every three people will open an email by subject line alone, so make sure you have a catchy subject line with some personalization thrown in the mix. You want something compelling that avoids using the word “survey.” People may be intimidated by that word alone!

Additionally, your first lines also need to be personalized. Opening with “Hi (insert name here),” is going to work better for you than “Hi, there” or some other generic greeting.

Lastly, if you are sending your survey out via email, make sure you are keeping these things in mind:

  • Make sure your email is branded correctly so they can clearly identify who you are
  • Explain why you want their feedback
  • Explain how their feedback will be used
  • Set expectations on how long the survey will take (don’t lie)
  • Mention what’s in it for them if they fill out the survey
  • Include only one CTA, preferably a button

Always, and we do mean always, preview and double check your email and your survey before you send it out. You don’t want to forget an important question or confuse customers with a typo and lose their trust.

Speaking of trust…

Use the Data You Collect for Good

Do you know what really makes survey users want to respond to more surveys?

Actually following through on their feedback.

If you don’t make the operational, personnel or product improvements your survey responders suggest and then send them another survey, do you think they will take the time to answer it?

Probably not – or at least not positively.

Following through and making the necessary improvements shows you are able to take constructive feedback, can commit to making changes and value your survey responders.

If you want to increase your customer retention and make them advocates of your brand, don’t just ask them questions. Make the changes they recommend.

Get Actionable Consumer Insights Today

At Binary Fountain, we help business owners and managers get the actionable insights they need to improve their business operations.

From online reputation management to storing survey data, we have everything you need to listen to customer feedback and quickly identify the areas where your organization can improve.

For an in-depth look at survey best practices and other customer feedback strategies, check out our on-demand webinar on reputation and listings management.

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About the Author

Kieran McQuilkin
Content Marketing Specialist

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