Rarely does a week go by without me getting a couple of surveys via email or text asking about my recent gym experience, doctor’s visit, neighborhood safety, job benefits satisfaction, diversity and equity issues, or how I feel about some product I bought or even just glanced at online… Does that sound familiar?
Whether you see a few or a lot of these surveys, the real question is: How many do you actually take? And how many do you start but leave incomplete?
Bad Survey Example #1: Summer camp evaluation survey
When my son was attending summer camp, the organizers decided to survey the parents about their experience with the program. The email was nice and personal, letting me know that it will only take 5 minutes to respond. Sure, I was happy to contribute. But then it started by asking me to populate my name, my son’s name, his age, which exact summer camp program he participated in… All the things they clearly knew the answer to!
But wait, then the next question asked if I thought his instructors were knowledgeable. Nothing wrong with the question at first glance except for there were two of them. And I really felt one was the expert in what he was teaching but not the other. So, I could not answer the question. I stopped at that point and did not complete the survey.
Bad Survey Example #2: Buyer feedback
My friend Jackie is really into fitness, and, one day, she decided to treat herself to her first home-gym machine. After weeks of research and shopping, the choice was made, and she got her “best treadmill ever”. In a few days, there was a nice card in her mail, from a manufacturer, congratulating her on a purchase and asking if she’d be willing to answer some questions about her shopping experience in a short survey. There were both a URL address and a QR code to the survey included right on the card, which was convenient.
But then the survey was not that mobile-friendly with parts of the questions extending beyond the width of the mobile screen and requiring lots of scrolling to view and answer. So, after struggling through a few questions, Jackie gave up and closed the survey without finishing.
Bad Survey Example #3: Patient satisfaction survey
My other friend, Michael, has recently had to go through a lengthy physical therapy course. He told me that every time he had a procedure, check-up, or any kind of interaction, his highly acclaimed Physical Therapy Center bombarded him with survey requests and reminders. Responding to them at first, Michael had never received any follow-up, and then he simply stopped responding.
Should businesses actively seek feedback and opinions from customers and employees? Yes, they should and for two simple reasons: experience matters and expectations keep evolving. Thankfully, we live in a data-driven world and modern technology makes it easy for just about anyone to create and disseminate a survey. But you need to ensure your survey is attractive and easy to take.
While there are numerous tips for better planning, better design, and better marketing, today we are going to share 15 smart software features you need to know about to make your surveys as simple and easy as possible – and maximize the response rates.
1. Custom emails
From addressing your audience by name and using your brand fonts and colors to embedding a question – your survey invitation is the first thing your audience will see, so give it the attention it deserves. While not every survey is sent via email, if email invitations are on your list – take a closer look at all the possible customization options.
2. Survey Introduction
Using Intro/Descriptive text question type in in the beginning of the survey allows to communicate the purpose of the survey, express your appreciation to your participants, and set the expectations for the survey length.
3. Progress bar
You have a much better chance of getting a complete response when you choose to display a progress bar. It allows participants to see how far along they are in a survey, feel like they are making progress, and have a clear idea of how much effort it will take to complete the rest of the survey.
It isn’t always necessary to ask all respondents the same questions or ask them every single question. Take advantage of the question display logic or branching to make the survey relevant and easy to complete by routing participants around questions that do not apply to them. In other words, make your survey automatically skip to the next applicable question for your respondent based on their answers to the earlier questions.
Pre-population is a feature that allows you to pre-fill information you already know about the participants. This reduces the length of the survey by removing any questions where the answer is known. In my first bad survey example above, instead of asking my name, my kid’s name and age, the summer camp company could have just pre-populated this information based on my email.
Piping gives your respondents more personalized and engaging survey experience. With this feature, participant answers can reappear in the next questions, making the survey more conversational and relevant. For example, if a participant says their preferred communication method is a phone call, the next question could ask what time of the day is best for calling them.
7. The right question types
Sometimes the length of the survey can be significantly reduced by choosing the right question types such as Matrix Grid that allows participants to answer multiple related questions on the same scale. A Drop Down can save your participants typing time. Other question types, such as Image Choice or smiley Rating Scale, can make your survey more engaging.
8. The right channels
To maximize survey participation, you need to reach people exactly where they are. Sogolytics makes that possible by providing a wide array of distribution options and features including email, social media, QR codes, website, and text message. Make sure to use a channel that your target audience uses quite often and combine channels to maximize visibility.
9. Mobile friendly
With almost 60% of all website traffic worldwide being generated via mobile phones, making sure your surveys are optimized for mobile devices could be key to ensuring a positive respondent experience and higher survey participation. Mobile surveys minimize disruption in your customers’ lives and offer a quicker, easier way for them to share their feedback. Consider using mobile-friendly question types that involve minimum scrolling and be sure to preview and test your survey on hand-held devices.
10. The right time
Some surveys should happen at the same time each year, but many will make the most sense after an interaction or, so called, trigger event, such as — product purchase, office visit, event registration – you name it! The key to collecting the most accurate data is to ask people for feedback while their experience is still fresh in their minds. If you wish to send out surveys at the right time, use software that allows you to set up trigger rules and automate your feedback collection.
11. Save and continue later
Save and Continue Later is a feature that allows participants to save answers they have already entered and finish their responses at a later time. This feature is extremely helpful for longer questionnaires such as annual employee engagement or customer satisfaction studies where participants may need extra time to complete.
Reminders are a great way to encourage participation throughout the entire survey project window. There are a variety of reminder options but smart feedback platforms like Sogolytics allow us to set up intelligent reminders to only those who have not yet participated.
Many consumers are concerned about sharing their personal data with businesses. Many employees are concerned about the confidentiality of their answers. In both cases, you can boost participation by conducting anonymous surveys. The anonymity feature removes all electronic identifying information about the participants. Conducting anonymous surveys and including a clear privacy disclaimer will make people more likely to participate and provide candid responses.
14. Multilingual surveys
Multilingual surveys will ensure higher response when you deal with a global or multicultural audience. Getting a chance to answer in their preferred language, respondents can understand the questions easily, will be more likely to complete, and you will receive more accurate and insightful data. The best part is that the right software will make the multilingual surveys hassle-free for you.
15. Touch rules
Last but definitely not least – touch rules. This feature gives you the chance to avoid the common mistake of over-surveying participants. Set up touch rules to avoid survey invitations being sent to individuals who either received a particular number of invitations or participated in a particular number of surveys during a select period.
Touch rules would be a perfect solution for Michael’s patient satisfaction surveys story! Mobile-friendly survey would ensure Jackie had provided feedback on her buying experience, and the right question types would fix the bad summer camp evaluation survey I was not able to complete.
Good thing you’ve read this blog and will not have those mistakes in your surveys! 😉 But wait, there is more! Join our webinar, “The Right Time for the Right Questions: How to Boost Survey Response Rates” webinar to hear more easy-to-use ideas and survey best practices, and watch response rates rise by up to 300%.
Finally, if you’re looking for a smart and flexible survey or feedback management software, try Sogolytics. Our intuitive platform provides an end-to-end solution with advanced functionalities designed to engage participants, increase response rates, analyze data, and identify key drivers to inform your next steps. Let’s connect – our consultants will be happy to discuss your needs and recommend the right solution.