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How to implement successful online surveys – How to write questions? What is a good response rate?

Going beyond Web traffic analysis

While web traffic analysis is a good measure of knowing customer’s web-content preferences, it is insufficient to know latent customer needs which could add to your bottom-line tremendously.  Businesses today need to proactively adapt to these latent needs to stay ahead of the alert competition.

Conducting online surveys to understand customer preferences as they evolve is a smart way to deliver value and keep your customers happy. Most customers do realise that supplying information can help them in the long run as it may result in better products a lower prices.

Smart marketers are adding free goodies to make these online surveys more appealing, and most customers like getting rewarded for the time they spend and the information they share.

Thanks to the timely feedback through these online surveys, many web-businesses are making better decisions faster. Additionally using the web for such tasks significantly reduces the cost and time needed to deploy and analyse surveys.

Ideally you could use online surveys for:

  • Understanding demographic profile of your customers.
  • Tracking customer preferences of your web offerings (attitude / satisfaction).
  • Tasks performed on your website and the wish-list of preferred tasks (behaviour).
  • Why targeted customers do the things they do on your website (motivations).

Online Survey Structure

Once the purpose of the online survey has been defined, you need to decide on the overall survey structure; one that is clear and customised. Questions in the survey should ideally be grouped by topic, with the question sequence flow being logical and simple to understand. Jumping back & forth between various topics is not advised as it can easily disorient your users.

You need to determine the format of questions of your survey. We recommend that most of your questions should be closed-ended. They need to have predefined sets of answers; including multiple choice, answers on a numerical scale (e.g., 1 – not at all satisfying, 5 – very satisfying) and yes/no responses.

Web users prefer these types of questions as they are much easier to summarise and analyse than open-ended questions enabling quicker decisions.

However you could use open-ended questions when you don’t know the full list of recommended answers. They also at times, ensure that your survey captures all the relevant issues (e.g., “Is there anything else that you would like to share about our website?).

roi.com.au’s recommended Questions and Answers

Once the outline is complete, roi.com.au recommends using the following 3 principles for developing your questions:

Singularity – ensuring that each question addresses a single issue only. For example the question “Which of the following reasons makes you to visit and purchase from our site?” is not advisable because it lumps together 2 issues that may be unrelated: reason for visiting and need for purchasing.

Clarity– users should be able to understand the questions by just reading them once. You need to avoid complex sentence structure, technical jargon and double negatives. It’s a good habit to read questions (aloud) yourself to see if they read naturally.

Neutrality – avoid using questions that bias the respondent toward a specific answer. Such a question might be: “Did you know that 55% of e-commerce websites use cookies?” The respondent may not like to seem ignorant, so this question wording may bias people towards the yes option (answer).

It pays to invest in online surveys as they are easy to implement and can an alert you to unique market information which can provide your business a competitive advantage.