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online customer survey tips

Online customer surveys can be an effective tool for gathering customer insights if done correctly.

Most all marketers and PR specialists would agree there’s no better source for quick consumer insights that an online customer survey. Still, some surveys produce only irrelevant and inconclusive data. That’s because creating an effective online survey is trickier than you’d expect. Here are five practical tips on developing an effective survey that will deliver useful data and actionable insights.

Establish a Goal

When creating your survey, establish and follow your objectives. Ask yourself: What am I trying to learn here? What data do I need to achieve my goal? It might seem surprising, but thinking about the projected results of the survey will better help you to shape it.

It’s likely that you’ll be showing the results of your survey to others – consider what metrics might be valuable to your supervisors. Understand their objectives as well, and you’re on your way to create a meaningful survey.

Construct Questions Carefully

Writing the questions and answer choices may seem the easiest part of developing a survey. It’s not. There’s an art to writing questions and answer choices that produce valid data. Vague or leading question produce results with little validity. Review as many other services in the subject area as you can to learn the techniques of constructing questions. Test the survey instrument multiple times on test subjects before doing the actual survey.

Make It Clear and Easy

For the sake of your customers, try to make it as easy as possible to complete the survey. If you know your respondents’ contact information, pre-fill their forms with appropriate data by transferring it directly from your database.  

This will save them time and increase their willingness to take the survey. Remember to ask them to correct any potential mistakes they find in the data you filled. Good software should automatically update your database with no effort on your end.

Inspire Customers to Take the Survey

This is a difficult step. Consider sending personalized e-mails. They can increase survey response rates by over 60 percent. Make sure that your survey tool allows you to customize messages sent to each respondent.

Your survey should look professional and appealing. Use a good template, go for neutral colors and make it engaging. Repeat this tactic in e-mails sent to potential respondents. Offer them an incentive, such as products discounts or gift cards.

 Use Automated Tools

Your survey software should provide lots of automated tools that will make your job easier. You can schedule e-mail invitations to be automatically sent at a time that suits your target audience. Send reminders, too. They’re bound to increase participation rate. It’s likely that your software also features a tool that will help you to determine who needs a reminder and who has already taken the survey.

 Allow Consumers to Opt-out

Every e-mail you send to your customer database should include an automatic opt-out button that will ensure users won’t get any other messages from you. Some systems will only let you know that someone has opted-out and leave it to you to remove their contact info from the database. Others will simply do it for you.

Use for Branching and Skip Logic

To create an efficient customized survey, you need to use branching. For example, you can begin your survey by asking responders to mark the age bracket they belong to. On this basis, you will ask questions relevant only to this group of people, helping your survey match your target audience.

Another important strategy is skip logic, where you prevent respondents from reading and answering irrelevant questions. Skip logic is user friendly and will increase response rates, ultimately producing more relevant data. Before you launch your survey, make sure to take it yourself first. Look for bugs, spelling mistakes and focus on clarity, coherence and easiness of the task. If you find the survey fast and easy to fill out, so will your customers.