Online Surveys 101 – The Basics

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“The Internet is a vast virtual world that connects all kinds of people from around the globe. For this reason, a survey that requires a hundred or more respondents can be conducted faster via the internet.”

Explorable.com

As Techopedia.com defines it, an online survey is a questionnaire that the target audience can complete over the Internet. Online surveys are usually created as Web forms with a database to store the answers and statistical software to provide analytics. People are often encouraged to complete online surveys by an incentive such as being entered to win a prize.

According to a research that Surveymonkey.com made in 2015, surveys that open with a simple, multiple-choice question have an 89% completion rate on average. By comparison, surveys that begin with an open-ended question have a significantly lower completion rate at 83%. So on average, when a company conducts a survey it will lose six people out of every 100 just because the opening question seems to be too much work.

Some online surveys focus on opinion and attitudes while others are more concerned with collecting factual information. Many online surveys combine questions of both types. A respondent could be asked what they heard or read about an issue, what they know about it, their opinion, how strongly they feel and why, interest in the issue, past experiences with it, and also certain demographic information which will help the survey analyst classify the responses (such as age, sex, marital status, occupation, and place of residence). Questions can be open ended (“What does that make you think of?”) or closed (“Do you agree or disagree?”); they may ask the respondent to rate a product or a service on some kind of scale; they may ask for a ranking of various alternatives. The questionnaire could be very brief – a few questions taking no longer than five minutes, or it could take a demanding hour or more of a respondent’s time. A survey is usually rooted in situations where an individual or institution is confronted with an information need and no existing data will suffice. Once the information need has been identified and a determination made that existing data is inadequate, objectives are laid out for the investigation. These objectives should remain as specific, clear cut and unambiguous as possible. For example, suppose a company is planning to redesign the packaging for its product. Typically, when a company is redesigning its packaging, it is making an effort to expand or modify the brand. However, simply rolling out the new design may prove disastrous if consumers react negatively. To mitigate this risk, a company might publish an online survey displaying images of the proposed new design. A series of questions would then be asked to gauge consumer reaction.

Before the crafting of your own actual survey begins, it’s time to ask yourself a few questions, such as:

  • What information are you looking for from your customers?
  • Have you noticed a few users here and there using your product in an unexpected manner?
  • Are you looking to test the waters on what features that you’ve introduced have worked well (or not so well) with your audience?
  • How satisfied are your customers; both short (relative) and long (loyalty measurement) term?

An online survey is one of five general ways research is typically conducted using surveys. Surveys are also given using mail (the kind that requires postage), telephone, in-person interviews, and intercept surveys (respondents are “intercepted” as they pass through a heavily trafficked area). Online surveys most closely resemble the type of surveys which were traditionally mailed out. Only this time you’re using email to send a link that takes you to an HTML form that is designed for completion and submission through the computer. Information is collected quickly because as soon as your respondent has finished taking the survey, their responses are immediately submitted. Online surveys can also be embedded on your web site using what is known as an Iframe. An IFrame is an HTML element that makes it possible to embed an HTML document inside of another HTML document. You can also create a Pop-Up survey on your website so that when a site visitor visits a page the HTML form pops up from their website. If they have pop-up blockers enabled then this method will prevent them from taking your survey so you can also create a link to the survey which you can display on your website.

The top four tips for asking questions the right way on your online survey are:

  1. Start with a simple, easy-to-answer question
  2. Ask only the questions for which you really need answers
  3. Limit the number of open-ended questions and other hard-to-answer questions
  4. Ask short but clear questions

Hire a pro. MI Group provides an Enterprise Survey service, as well as other eBusiness services. Contact us today! Our next MI Tech Forum will be related to Digital Marketing Trends in 2016, and it will be held on March 16th in Montego Bay (Jamaica). Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @MIGroupJamaica @MIGroupUSA @Shopbvm @MITechForumI am text block.

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