Searching for the best type of question to ask in your upcoming customer survey, market survey, or satisfaction survey? Guess what. You will not find it. Determining the best type of question to ask in a survey ultimately boils down to preference. You will likely have a preference, I will have a preference, and a market research company would have another preference.
Choosing the right type of question depends on a number of variables including the intended length of your survey, the audience you are trying to reach, your objectives of the question and the survey, how engaged you need the respondent to be, as well as something as basic as whether the survey will be taken on a PC, tablet, or phone.
The options are endless. Making the right choice is defined as accounting for all of these variables and choosing the best question or set of questions which make up your survey script. Variety is a good thing in terms of the survey experience. More engagement equals more attention and focus on your questions which results in Better Data. Better Decisions. Better Strategy. Our motto.
Trying to understand which questions are the best fits for your next survey project? Learn about 36 different options from our market research company in Syracuse.
Asking the right questions cannot be understated when it comes to survey design. This is why many survey writers and organizations with little experience in this field hire a professional market research company to assist them with script design. Using a professional eliminates bias, poorly worded questions, and sets your team up for success.
The difference between a good question and a bad question can make a large impact on the survey taker experience. It's the difference between high quality data and low quality data, a drop-out versus someone who completes the entire survey, and makes a difference between highly engaged respondents and those who are just running through the motions.
Choose. But choose wisely.
36 Types of Survey Questions
Here are 36 types of question options for your next market research survey.
1) Single response list.
This might be the most basic survey question of all. It is a single response question with a list of choices below with radio buttons. The respondent selects one response.
2) Multiple response list.
Very similar to the single response list question but instead of radio buttons, this type of survey question is typically check boxes to allow the respondent to select all that apply, all of the above, or any combination of one or more choices.
3) Open-ended text box.
As opposed to the closed-ended questions in 1 and 2 with a finite number of choices, an open ended text box is a short box to allow the respondent to type in a response. You would use this for a simple question like: "What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of our brand?" It would be difficult to list all the possible words to select from so an open-ended question makes sense.
4) Open-ended text box list.
Similar to the single open-ended text box in 3, this lists multiple short text boxes under the question. This may be used for similar question like: "What are the first 3 words that come to mind when you think of our brand?" Those responses can be recorded directly underneath one another in separate boxes or next to one another. Much easier to analyze than asking the participant to write all 3 words in one box separated by commas.
5) Open-ended text box grid.
This a more advanced type of question and one that may require a lot of typing from your respondent so use sparingly. Let's say you wanted to get the top 3 words that come to mind for each of the 3 brands of your company. You may list the 3 brands across the top (columns) and Word 1, Word 2, and Word 3 horizontally (rows). Therefore there is 9 text boxes in the grid to enter top-of-mind words. Obviously a lot of typing and will likely be a key point of drop-off in your survey.
6) Open-ended comment box.
This is very similar to the open-ended text box but a comment box is intended to capture more data. The box is larger and wider on the survey screen indicating to the respondent more text is expected and allowed. A perfect fit for an open-ended comment box would be a follow-up to a rating question such as: "Why did you rate your customer satisfaction as a 7?"
7) Open-ended quantity.
This question is an open-ended box but coded to record a quantity. As the survey designer and programmer, you can add verification to this box to ensure the respondent enters a quantity (e.g. "10" versus "ten"). This makes analysis on these responses a breeze.
8) Open-ended percent.
Similar to the open-ended quantity, here you can specify the respondent enter a percentage. Directly to the right of the box is a typical % label to make sure the respondent is on the same page. You can set up verification coding here to ensure the quantity percent entered ranges from 0% to 100%. If the respondent types anything else, an error message appears.
9) Ranking selection
As part of this survey question, you ask the respondent to rank a number of categories and survey options with an open-ended box next to the factor or a grid. The grid lists the ranks (1st through 5th; columns) and the respondent reads the corresponding categories (rows) ranking them 1 through 5. This can also be accomplished by asking the respondent to type 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 next to the category with verification logic built-in to allow only one rank per question. This aims to avoid a respondent with two number 3 ranks.
9 down. 27 to go. We warned you. Making the right choice for your survey is difficult.
10) Ranking drag and drop.
It's a similar premise to the ranking selection, but this type of question is a little more engaging. This allows the respondent to click, drag, and move the factors they are ranking. It allows for a simple reordering or ranking.
11) Single response grid.
This type of question is excellent for likert scales where you have multiple factors you want the respondent to rate. For example: "Please rate your level of satisfaction on these factors from 1 to 5 where "1" is not at all satisfied and "5" is very satisfied. The factors are cost, customer service, response time, etc. A rating of 1 to 5 is selected for each factor.
12) Multiple response grid.
Another similar set up to the single response grid except this option allows for multiple responses per row. A simple example might be a list of 3 models of cars in the rows and the vertical columns are features of the cars (e.g. good gas mileage, safe, sporty, etc.) The respondent can select all of the features which match each of the 3 card models and there may be multiple features selected for each model of car (row).
13) Drop-down menu.
This is another way of asking a single response question. A common drop-down question you often see in surveys is: "In which of the following states do you reside?" Rather than listing off 50 radio buttons of states, the respondent clicks a down arrow and can scroll directly to the appropriate state or type the first letter as in "N" for New York or "T" for Tennessee.
14) Drop-down menu list.
Like the drop-down menu question except this lists multiple drop-down menus consecutively. For instance, the question may ask which of the following words best explain the taste of the food, select up to 3. After the question, there are 3 consecutive drop-down boxes with words which can be selected in each drop-down menu.
15) Drop-down menu grid.
This is a time consuming option similar to the open-ended grid. This lists multiple items in several rows and several columns with drop-down boxes at each intersection. As you can imagine, there is a lot of clicking that needs to take place in this type of question and it is not highly recommended by our market research company.
16) Cascading drop-down.
Think of this question as peeling back the onion a bit. The first drop-down question may ask: "What is your favorite brand of car?" From the drop-down the respondent selects "Jeep". Then another drop-down appears asking: "What is your favorite model of Jeep?" From the drop-down you select "Grand Cherokee". Another drop-down appears asking: "What is your favorite feature of the Jeep Grand Cherokee?" To which you select the "Four-wheel drive in bad weather".
17) Email input.
This question is as simple as it sounds. It allows the respondent to input an email into an open-ended text box form. Through this you can validate an email in your code to force the respondent to include an "@" and potentially a ".com", ".net", and so on.
18) Date input.
Another obvious question type from our market research company. This one makes it easy for the respondent or interviewer to record the date in the survey instrument. It can offer scrolling drop-downs for month, day, and year or simply offer an open-ended box requiring the respondent to enter the date as "10/10/2018."
18 down. 18 to go. We can help you make the best choice for your survey.
19) Slider scale.
A fun type of question for sure. This is another way of keeping respondents engaged in the survey by displaying a horizontal or vertical bar where the lever can be toggled back and forth. This works for pricing (toggling between price points of $1 to $100,000 or more), percentages (toggling between 0% and 100%), and toggling between numbers. It's a different way of asking an open-ended quantity or percent question.
20) Slider scale list.
This type of question is the same as 19 but multiple slider scales on top of one another. Let's say you are asking: "What do you expect to pay for Product A, Product B, and Product C?" These can be listed as 3 slider scales on top of one another.
21) Star rating.
Bored with basic radio button questions or rating grids? Star rating scales might be a good option for you to change it up with the respondent and display a more fun and engaging question. This can be set up as stars, faces, and a variety of other icons. It works great for satisfaction: "How satisfied were you with you with your purchase? 1 Star indicates not at all satisfied and 5 Stars indicates very satisfied."
22) Net-promoter score (NPS).
One of the most common if not the most common benchmarking question in market research. Net promoter score (NPS) uses a simple 0 to 10 scale asking the respondent likelihood to recommend. Those who rate likelihood to recommend a 9 and 10 are promoters. Those who rate it 7 or 8 are passives. Those who rate it 0 to 6 are detractors. NPS is calculated as the difference between promoters (65%) and detractors (25%) = +40.
23) File upload.
Do you have an essay or assignment you required your respondents to complete offline as part of an in-home usage test (IHUT), in-depth interview (IDI), or