5 Tips to Help You Write a Better Survey

There are many factors you need to consider when writing an online surveyphone survey, or mail survey. Working with an experienced market research firm can alleviate your concerns and difficulties when writing a survey. If you are going to spend the time and money on commissioning a survey, you'll want to ensure the script is comprehensive, unbiased, engaging, and accurate. If you miss any of these, your survey may produce misleading results.

5 Tips to Help You Write a Better Survey

Here are 5 tips a market research survey company uses to write surveys:

  1. Define your objectives - before you even touch a key on your keyboard to start writing a survey, scribble the objectives of the survey directly from your team, manager, or after talking with the client. Is there a past survey script to base this instrument on? If not, what do we want to learn from the research? How will the results be used? Objectives help formulate priorities in a survey script and let you know what's a "must-have" versus a "nice-to-have."

  2. Lay out your screener qualifications (if necessary) - all surveys typically include qualifying questions to ensure you are researching the correct audience. Ask yourself, what are the parameters for my study? Specific geography? Ages? Incomes? Past purchasing behavior?

  3. Lay out an outline - I personally believe this is one of the most underrated and undervalued pieces of the survey writing process. An outline of questions helps define topics and flow. It also provides a quick high-level overview document that can be reviewed with your team, manager, or client to confirm the direction you are headed is correct. More importantly, it allows you to adjust everything quickly in an outline format instead of spending hours re-formatting or re-programming a full script. This is the most valuable step of the five listed.

  4. Begin writing the survey - pay attention to grammar, spelling, logic, and follow MECE. MECE stands for mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. For mutually exclusive, make sure there is no overlap in age ranges (e.g., 25 to 35, 35 to 44.) If the respondent is age 35, which category do they select? For collectively exhaustive, make sure you provide all possible answer choices for the respondent. If you ask which social media platforms your respondents use (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.) but you do not list LinkedIn or Other(s), the question fails to get a true depiction of social media usage. Pay particular attention to logic and routing in the survey to ensure that you are not asking questions that are not applicable to the respondent. Consider using branching or routing. Wording in surveys is a scientific process, make sure the language is not leading or biased.

  5. Proof and test - think about creating a survey script checklist that forces you to do a rundown of items to double and triple-check in your survey draft. Always complete a full proofing of both content and typos. If the survey is being programmed for online, mobile, or CATI - test it until you are 100% comfortable. Attention to detail is key here, because if there is an error in your script chances are, over the course of 1,000 survey completes, many respondents will end up finding it if you can't, which does not reflect well on you or your company.

Drive Research is a market research survey company in Syracuse, NY. We assist all types of businesses with their market research and survey needs. Understanding the needs of your customers is crucial to successful marketing strategy. Contact us at 315-303-2040 or email us at [email protected].

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