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Our survey says: UH-OH

Surveys are a great way of researching new products and surveys and providing real information about a marketplace.  However, this week I saw not one but three really badly designed surveys on a start up forum I frequent, so I thought I’d write down my Golden Rules of Survey Design.

1. Figure out what you need to know.


Sounds obvious, but a lot of surveys do not have a proper objective.  If you are trying to find out about a particular industry, think about what you need to know.  If your survey’s purpose is to collect future marketing data, be upfront about that.  Don’t simply collect data for data’s sake.

2. Keep it short


This follows on from #1.  You should have no more than 10 questions in any survey, unless there is a reward/reason for them completing the survey.  Otherwise you’ll have half-completed and abandoned surveys which skew your results.

3. Don’t load questions


Prime example: “How much would you pay for this product? £5/£10/£20” with no option to say “I wouldn’t buy this product”.  There is no point in doing the research unless it’s reasonably independent and credible.  Even if you would like results that say “99% of respondents would buy my widgets” – it’s not a real survey unless it gives you a real picture of the market.

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4. Quantative vs Qualative

Ideally you want a balance between quantative data (i.e. data which can be measured so “8/10 people rated our service as good”) and qualative data (i.e. freestyle comments so “I thought this service was great, really professional and quick turnaround”).  Quantative data gives you statistics, whereas qualative data gives you quotes.  Balance your survey so you have at least 50% quantative.  You can also enhance quantative questions with a “comments” box beneath them so people can add freestyle questions.

5. Test it

Because when you read the survey, it will seem perfectly rational because you wrote it!  Get a fresh pair of eyes to proofread it and idiot check the questions.  Then you can tweak wording or rating scales as necessary before launching it to the public.

6. Get results


To get good results, you need to make it as enticing as possible for people to respond to your survey.  Throw in a prize or a free report of the results.  Get it online using www.surveymonkey.com or similar and post it on forums, Twitter, Facebook, send it out in your newsletter, email the contacts in your address book.  Make it easy for them to do it!

And since you made it this far – I am doing my own survey: How did you start up? Vote here: https://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/svaforum/viewtopic.php?t=2734

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