Guest Column | September 24, 2019

5 Guidelines To Ensure Better Survey Responses

By Angela Myers, Market America | SHOP.COM

Patient Satisfaction Survey

Many surveys are left unanswered, but a well-constructed survey can uncover information about customer needs that purchasing history cannot reveal. Jeremy Fennema, Vice President of Business Programs at Market America, believes it is a mistake to ignore the power of surveys. He maintains that they are crucial to developing new products and to harnessing collective buying power so his company can deliver the best deals to customers. Market America is a global product brokerage and internet marketing company that specializes in One-to-One Marketing. In an interview, Fennema stated, “I can’t imagine a single company that shouldn’t use a survey.” 

Throughout his time developing surveys and utilizing their data to create more profit and loyal customers, Fennema has discovered five guiding principles to create surveys with high response rates and that generate useful data.

1) Keep It Short And Simple

“When it comes to best practices, really the biggest one is short and simple,” Fennema said. “Your best survey is going to be as short and as simple as possible. Think about it from your own perspective. If you’re sitting down and somebody is saying, ‘hey take this survey,’ what do you want to do? You want to be done as quickly as possible. Not a lot of people enjoy taking surveys.” 

Fennema suggests that a survey should be no longer than three minutes. He also recommends having a specific topic for each survey, such as pet products or coffee-drinking habits, instead of trying to overcomplicate the survey to cover multiple facets. If the survey is designed to be short and simple, it will not be difficult to take or to analyze collected data.

2) Explain The Value Of Taking The Survey

While surveys provide great value for companies, Fennema advised that the wording used in each survey should emphasize the benefit for the person taking it and should establish the benefit from the start. “The more you can make sure the experience is as great for them as possible, the better off you are.” 

For example, Fennema says the benefit he finds when their customers complete a Market America | SHOP.COM survey is that his company can use the data to deliver customers and a monetized community of entrepreneurs better prices, additional ways to save money while shopping online and the specific products they want. “We want to get them done with it, but we also have to explain the value,” Fennema said. “We start all our surveys and promotions of the surveys off with two keys principles — why should you take this and what is the benefit to you,” he said.

3) Set Clear Expectations

While a survey should emphasize the ROI for the person taking it, it also needs to establish clear expectations. Fennema explained, “We also want to set the expectation with them of how long it will take.” After explaining the value of the survey, Fennema recommended giving an estimate about survey length; letting people know how long it will take up-front creates an honest relationship with the user.

4) Keep The Survey Moving Forward 

Not only should a survey tell the user of its duration at the beginning, the length should be reiterated throughout the entire survey. Fennema recommended breaking down surveys into sections. He designs his surveys so that the first section is about getting to know the user, and then consequential sections are about different products and offers within the specific category. At the beginning of each section, Fennema usually mentions the user’s progress and how they only have a couple of questions to answer in that section. Fennema said, “They know it’s a short survey but we’re reiterating that fact when we have broken it down into bite-sized chunks. It’s really demonstrating to them that you’re being honest with them,” he said.

5) Don’t Have Them Answer Unnecessary Questions

Fennema advised against asking unnecessary questions. When creating surveys, he says it is vital to be clear and thoughtful in constructing questions. “Think about how you’re asking the questions and how things are structured so you’re being as appreciative and as good of a steward of the time of the person who is taking it as possible,” he said.

Another tip to eliminate unnecessary questions is to allow the user to skip over questions that don’t apply to them. “If you know that a previous question eliminates a subsequent question, then use your tool to do that,” Fennema said. For example, if the first question is “Do you have a pet?” and they answer no, let them skip the questions about what they buy for their pet. Thoughtful questions and options to skip over irrelevant questions enhance surveys and can increase response rates.

While data from purchasing history is great, surveys can add another dimension to data collection. Fennema concluded, “I see a lot of other companies just looking at their data and trying to extract information from that. The one thing you don’t get out of your own data is what you don’t already know, what you don’t already offer and what doesn’t yet exist. I think what we’re going to start to see is that shift, a year or two or maybe three from now, where people are going to start marrying up this Big Data analysis with surveys to be able to have these two work together.”

Angela Myers, SHOP.COMAbout The Author

Angela Myers is the Public Relations and Marketing Intern at Market America | SHOP.COM. Angela is a sophomore at Elon University double majoring in Professional Writing and History. Her passions include business writing, travel and fitness.