In today’s fast-paced environment, we require a steady and accurate flow of information on our population’s needs, behaviors and preferences. This critical need for constant information on the part of governments, businesses, and social institutions is exactly the reason why we place so much dependence on surveys.
The term “survey” is often used to describe a method of gathering information — in person, by phone, or online — from a group of individuals, which often makes up just a fraction of the population being studied.
Unlike a census, where all members of the population are studied, surveys gather information from only a portion of the targeted audience. Most surveys are not public opinion polls; rather, they are directed toward a specific administrative, commercial, or scientific purpose.
Surveys provide an important source of basic knowledge in various fields. Economists, psychologists, health professionals, political scientists and sociologists all conduct surveys. They study diverse matters such as income and expenditure patterns among households, the roots of ethnic and racial prejudice, the implication of health problems and voting behavior, etc.
Types of Survey
Depending on the type of data you’re collecting, who your target participants are, and your plans for the data, you’ll need to use a survey that’s the right fit. There are a few different types of surveys, and you’ll decide which type to use based on which best fits your and your participants’ needs and expectations.
Online surveys allow for quick distribution to a vast amount of people while keeping the data in one spot for easy analysis. Go for this method if you want speed and reach.
Telephonic surveys are more time consuming and demand more man power. However, these are a good option for those looking to create a more personalized experience with their participant and possibly ask follow up questions.
Paper surveys are the way to go when your participants may not have access to the internet and you’re lacking the manpower to implement a telephonic survey. They’re not the best choice if you’re planning on importing the results to the computer for analysis as hand entering each survey can be time consuming.
5 Advantages of an Online Survey
With smartphones putting the world at our fingertips and WiFi nearly everywhere we go, online surveys are the choice of many businesses and researchers. Here are 5 advantages of using an online survey:
- Easy creation – Download a template, rearrange questions, edit, drag and drop
- Cool customization – Make it your own with adding a logo, choosing a color that matches your brand
- Distribute to your heart’s desire – With sending the link in an email, you can target the specific participants you choose. Looking for more participants? With a URL link that you can post anywhere on the web, people from around the world can fill out your survey.
- Power to the Participants – Online surveys allow participants to fill it out on their own time, whenever and wherever they want. This means that you don’t need to meet in person to distribute surveys or collect data. Instead, you get to sit back and relax after you send it out.
- Consolidated Data – Doing it all online in the same platform means that your data is all in one place, usually in an analysis friendly export. No loose paper in random places, no missing responses, no calculations by hand.
The Benefits of Using a Survey Software
There’s no shame in needing a little help along the way. In fact, using a survey software will probably show your peers just how smart you are by saving time and effort. If you’re still hesitant to use one, below are some benefits of doing so that might change your mind. Benefits may include:
- Support from industry professionals for when you get stuck or need a nudge in the right direction
- Templates to help you get the ball rolling on your project
- Built in analytics and reporting functions to aid processing your results
- APIs capabilities so you can have some of your most powerful tools working together
- Skip logic features to control the flow of your survey
3 Important Reasons to Conduct Surveys
At Sogolytics, we see plenty of great reasons to conduct surveys, and many of them can be reduced to this simple list:
1. You don’t know everything
Sorry to say, but it’s the truth. In sports, when the underdog wins or a fluke play takes everyone by surprise, we say, “It’s why we play the game.” In education, we ask questions to find out how much our learners have learned. Simply put, we don’t know the answers until we ask the questions. If you already have all of the answers, start again at number 1. Those who know everything are simply unaware of their blind spots. Survey questions are simply an acknowledgement of the fact that you need insights from others.
2. You want to improve
Whether you’re an academic researcher testing your hypothesis or a business implementing a new initiative, you can’t make decisions without data. That is, you shouldn’t. From time to time, of course, we all make decisions based on gut instinct, but when the stakes are high and the decisions have wide-ranging impact, we need more information. When you create a survey, you’re identifying priorities and seeking how to achieve them.
3. You need to make decisions
What does “better” mean, anyway? Someone in HR might think it means higher employee engagement and improved retention. Someone in marketing might want to see a rise in the company’s Net Promoter Score. Still others want students to do better in school. If you haven’t defined your goals, it’s hard to reach them. Assessing the current situation often requires measuring — employee engagement, NPS — before setting targets. It might be great to boost engagement rates to 95%, but it would be helpful to know where you’re starting. Then, of course, you’ll need to measure again to find out if you’ve been successful.
Designing a Survey
You could have a great idea for a survey, but that doesn’t matter if you can’t create one that’s actually efficient and effective. If you’re looking for some guidance while designing a survey, follow the six simple steps below.
- Know your topic.
- Identify potential participants.
- Decide what you want to know, and create questions that’ll give you the answers.
- Organize the questions in a format that makes sense for the participants.
- Proofread and edit your survey.
- Have a team member proofread and edit your survey.
Each survey is a little different. Sometimes you start at step 3 with a question that you want to know the answer to but have yet to identify potential participants or figure out how it fits into a larger topic. That’s okay. Steps 1-3 can happen a little out of order. What’s important is that you have a clear idea of your finish line and tangible steps that will get you there.
7 Ways to Improve your Survey
Whether you’re new to the game or an experienced survey maker, there’s always room for improvement. Here are seven ways you can elevate your survey to boost response rates and get the answers you need.
1. Choose the right question types
The wrong question type will get you the wrong answers. For example, use a single-select question like a radio button when you’re only looking for one answer. If you want the participants to choose multiple answers, use a multi-select question like a check box.
2. Avoid GIGO
GIGO = garbage in, garbage out. Don’t collect unnecessary or unusable data through irrelevant or poorly structured questions. Avoiding GIGO can look like choosing the right question type, trashing superfluous questions, and remembering to include questions that collect data that you want to use in your analysis.
3. Employ Question Display Logic (QDL)
Your participants don’t need to see questions that aren’t meant for them. For example, you may ask, “Did you attend yesterday’s training?” in your survey. If the participant answers, “No,” then you wouldn’t want the next question they see to be, “How would you rate the instructor’s preparedness on a scale from 1-5?” It just doesn’t make sense. With QDL, you can set it up so the participant only sees this second question if they answer yes to the first. When employing QDL, a participant will see certain questions based on their answer to a previous question.
4. Use branching
Another type of logic similar to QDL, branching makes it so that participants only see pages relevant to their previous answers. With branching, the pages that a participant is navigated to are based on their answers to a question (or questions) on a previous page.
5. Pre-populate data
Know your participant’s name, department, tenure, or other demographic information? Save them time and make sure you get answers by pre-populating data.
Customizing your survey makes sure the participant knows what the survey is about and who your company is. Change the colors to match your brand, add your logo, and use the style and voice of your company to stand out from the competition.
7. Hold back on making things mandatory
When all the questions in your survey are mandatory, participants are less likely to complete it. Decision questions in logic should always be mandatory, but everything else has some leeway. A survey should resemble a conversation more than an interrogation.
Sample Survey Templates
Check out the sample survey templates below to inspire you in your survey making.
Creating an Engaging Survey with Sogolytics
While I’m sure this first 3/4 of this article has prepared you to soar in the survey world, it’s always nice to have a little help from the experts. Sogolytics recognizes that customer engagement goes beyond hitting send. Read on to learn how to create a stellar survey with Sogolytics.
Keeping in mind the steps to designing a survey from above…
- Start from scratch or with a template from the bank
- Delete, add, and edit questions with the help of the Question Bank and Answer Library
- Save the participant time with pre-population
- Make the survey flow with logic and branching
- Customize the look of the survey with colors and designs that match your brand
- Preview how the survey looks to make sure it’s up to standards
- Distribute via your preferred channel (email, url link, embedding, etc.)
- Schedule and send reminders to your participants
Once you’ve sent out your very engaging survey with the help of Sogolytics, you can sit back, relax, and wait for results. Then, run reports, share results, and export data all within the same platform. Use your newfound knowledge to make the best decisions for you and your business!