Survey Tips for Beginners
Quick Tips for Creating Successful Online Surveys
If you are new to conducting online surveys you may find the first few attempts a bit daunting. Don't worry. We have made sure Surveygoo is very easy to use for both non research specialists as well as experienced researchers. We can't make you a research expert overnight, but Surveygoo provides all the tools to make professional research accessible for everyone.
Quick Guide to Setting Up Your First Online Survey
1) Be clear about which audience you need to reach
Sounds obvious, but if you rush into a survey without taking the time to think who precisely is the audience you need to reach, then you run the risk of asking irrelevant questions to people. Your audience also dictates the types of questions to ask, and the appropriate tone of language to adopt.
Do you need to reach all demographics or is your target audience a clear sub set of the population (e.g. defined by age, gender, household data, product ownership or behaviourial patterns)? Many of these demographics can be targeted directly within Surveygoo. If your primary task is to explore the relevance of a product or service and you have few preconceived ideas about the audience, then it is best to conduct the survey among a wider audience and build knowledge from first principles.
2) Plan your Questionnaire
Even short questionnaires should be planned out before writing any specific questions.
First, define what information you are looking to get back from the survey.
Next, map out the subject areas or possible sub sections within the questionnaire. Always prioritise the key information objectives to avoid asking nice to know, but time wasting questions.
Lastly, map out the rough order of questions, and overall flow of the questionnaire. Remember if spontaneous awareness of brands or issues are an important objective, they will need to be asked before respondents see any prompt lists, to avoid bias in the responses.
3) Familiarise yourself with the choice of Question types
There are many types of questions which can be asked with online surveys. Different question types can be used for specific purposes. Spontaneous, open ended questions can be used for brand awareness, recall and perceptions (e.g. which brands are you aware of, or what, if anything, do you like about brand x?). Open ended questions can be used more broadly to collect verbatim answers on a range of issues (as opposed to collecting one word answers).
Surveygoo has a number of template surveys you can look at to familarise yourself with how different questions can be asked. Also look at the full range of question types and experiment with them.
4) Writing the Questionnaire
Language and tone of language are crtical in any questionnaire. People filling out the survey need to understand the questions without ambiguity. At the same time, they need to feel comfortable and sympathetic to the questions. The questions always need to be appropriate to the audience.
Getting pre-codes right is also essential. Some responses are obvious (e.g. region, gender, age) but all other codes require careful attention. Make sure the codes are precise, meaningful and mutually exclusive.
Minimise bias in the questionnaire. We suggest you keep the order of scales consistent, and that if necessary randomise answers (pre-codes) in questions. Its also important to think about question order. If its an awareness survey, for example, open ended responses should be collected first without showing the survey participant any information which may influence their answers.
If you present a very long list of pre-codes followed by several other lists of statements, there is always the risk that the survey participant will become bored and quality may suffer. Try to mix up question types, with different lengths of question.
Page layout with online surveys offer the ability to have several or single questions on each page. This can be useful for ensuring variation and addressing bias (see above). If you have too many questions on a page, it may force the survey participant to scroll down the page too much.
Respondent engagement is everything in online surveys. Surveygoo offers a range of colourful backgrounds and frames to place surveuy questions. Think about using drag and drop questions which help engage survey participants. Simple surveys, or questions with short code frames do not necessarily need to use drag and drop questions, but we recommend that they are used to introduce variation for longer quetionnaires which include long battery statements or ranking questions.
5) Review, Pilot & Test the Questionnaire
Spend as much time as you can to check the survey before launching it. In most cases the first draft of a questionnaire will have a few errors, or, more often final reviews of the questions yield last minute ideas and improvements.
As you build the individual questions, you can preview the questions to make sure they look as they should. Don't forget (if you have a regular subscription) you can send a questionnaire to yourself or a colleague as a test to check how the survey participant will see the survey. Otherwise, the preview function provides an accurate simulation of how the questionnaire will appear to respondents.
Professional market researchers often pilot surveys. Piloting is effectivey running a small scale version of the final survey in order to do a thorough check of the questionnaire, and that it provides the type of results required. The decision to pilot a survey is partly down to time and money. A variant of a pilot survey is a pre-test survey where a cut down version of a survey is run to sanity check assumptions about the audience. e.g, what incidence of the population have used a certain product or are relevant to answer a full scale survey. The results of a pre-test may significantly alter the direction, approach or objectives of a main stage survey.
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