Online Surveys = Ongoing Insights

Our Top Tips for Successful Surveys

Our Top Tips for Successful Surveys
Ruth from SurveyMonkey

Filtering Results, by Katie

When you are looking to isolate particular parts of your data, filters can be your best friend. Whether you’re looking to see the responses from a particular group of people, a specific response date, or respondents who answered  a certain way, filters do away with all that cumbersome digging.

Analyzing your data is one of the most important parts of your surveying process, so  it’s a good idea to think about which aspects of data will be important to you while designing your survey. This will set you up for fast, easy analysis after you’ve received your results.

For Example:

Will you want to see your managers’ responses separate from your supervisors’? If so, you’ll want to create a survey question that asks about your respondent’s position at the company. This will allow you to use the Filter by Response feature when it comes time to analyze your data to segment out the responses of each.

The Filter by Property feature allows you to filter by date, completed vs. partially completed responses, email address, name, IP address and custom values. When filtering by date, you need to set the parameters to capture the entire chunk of time you’re interested in. So to filter for March 5th, for example, you would filter March 5th-6th.


Need to dive even deeper into your analysis? Custom Filters allow you to create custom criteria filters based on responses. Filtering this way to be a great way to combine or negate particular responses. However, when designing, remember not to get too complex, as they may become so specific that the criteria will come up without a match. Simple is better here!

Keeping it Simple, by Ruth 

Designing your survey to be easily understood, comfortably short, and composed of many short pages (as opposed to cramming them all into long one) are excellent strategies to prevent drop-outs or lost responses.  If you write your survey with simple, straightforward language and design, your respondents will be able to focus their energy on providing you with thoughtful responses, instead of trying to decipher jargon or navigate the form.

Keep your pages short and sweet.  The less scrolling required, the better.  Responses are saved and submitted each time a respondent clicks ‘Next’ and ‘Done.’  The more pages you include (the more times your respondents click ‘next’), the more opportunities you’ll have to record their data, even if they don’t complete the survey. On the other hand, if a respondent fills out 90% of a 1-page survey and walks away, you’re left without a single bit of data that has been saved. Furthermore, from a methodological perspective, we advocate having shorter pages to keep respondents focused and engaged.

Additionally, if at all possible, I recommend keeping matrix questions to a minimum.  As you may know, if you’ve ever filled out a survey with a litany of matrices, they tend to make the respondent zone out, which will negatively impact your data quality.

Keeping your survey simple and focused will help unburden your respondents so they can do what you’d like them to: provide honest feedback.  You’ll benefit in the quality of your data, and also from the increase in stored responses that multiple pages will generate.

Branding and Customization, by Pierre 

Branding your survey can make a big difference. By adding your logo, colors, and fonts, you can increase your brand recognition and add credibility. This connection between your brand, survey, and respondent, can help to motivate the respondent by making them feel their opinions matter and are being collected by a trusted source.

Branding also has the added benefit of exposing the respondent to your brand without expensive advertising.

As a paid SurveyMonkey subscriber, you can include several elements into the design that will reflect your company’s brand and image:

  •  Add your logo to the header of the survey
  • Add images into the body of the survey
  • Edit your survey’s theme, colors, and fonts
  • Define your custom color palette by using specific hex codes through our color picker
  • Make certain sections or words stand out using elements like Bold, Underline, or Italics
  • Redirect respondents to your company’s webpage upon completion of the survey

When to Require Questions, by Matteo 

We all want to gather as much information as possible out of our surveys, but it is  important to remember that your respondent may not care as much about your survey as you do. In each survey there are some questions that really get to the heart of what you’re asking, and some which are just nice information to have. The answers to the first group of questions can be designed to be mandatory; the answers to the second group should not be.

Our suggestion is not to go overboard in the amount of required answers you are looking for.  If a respondent doesn’t answer a required question, he will be jumped back to the first mandatory question he forgot to reply to, instead of being directed to the next page. This may discourage some respondents from continuing on with your survey.

People may choose to skip your survey question for all sorts of reasons. Not everyone will want to share their opinion with you about every question; they may not even have one. While taking a survey that requires you to answer some questions of a sensitive nature, your respondents might opt to abandon your survey instead.

What do you think?

We hope you’ve enjoyed these insider tips from a few members of our awesome Customer Operations team. If you like these and want more, please tell us what other tips you’d like the team to provide in the comments below.


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  • Kaylene

    Some sage advice! Have just gone to the “effort” of customising with logo / colours and it looks great. Do you have any data on the fall out rate from mandatory questions? I would like to have the data to do analysis by for example Department (hence a mandatory question) but not at the expense of a significant drop off rate in response.

    • Hanna J

      Hi Kaylene – It’s true that making questions mandatory can negatively impact your response rate. But not making questions mandatory can negatively impact your data quality.

      The #1 factor that will impact your response rate is the quality of your survey design. Factors like the number of matrix questions you include (don’t include many, if you include them at all), the survey and page length (keep both as short as possible) will have a much greater impact on your response rates than whether or not you make questions mandatory. For more information on designing a good survey, check out the methodology section of this blog ( Thanks!

  • Sumit Rahman

    Excellent advice here, especially on keeping it simple and minimising mandatory questions. The point about having many short pages so that you can record responses more frequently is a handy one to bear in mind. And I never thought about the fact that many matrix questions are annoying, but as soon as I read it I realised that is exactly how I feel about them when I fill in surveys!

    • Hanna J

      Hi Sumit – We’re so glad you found this advice helpful! We’ll continue to post the latest survey tips, suggestions, and ideas here, so check back in for the latest. Thanks!

  • very helpful and great.
    thanks a lot.

    • Hanna J

      Hi Ousseini – Thank YOU for your comment! We’re so glad you found this helpful 🙂 Have a great day.

  • hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii

    • Hanna J

      Hiii Danial – How are you doing today?

      • danial

        im ok u

        • Hanna J

          Hi Danial – We’re doing well! Thanks for asking :).

  • Karin

    Very good info….Ruth’s tip on making more pages is great! Thank you

    • Hanna J

      Hi Karin – We’re so glad you found it useful! We’ll continue to post our insider survey tips and information here, so check back in for the latest. Thanks, and have a great weekend.

  • Amit singh

    hi i am amit . i am interast for servey mani

    • Hanna J

      Hi Amit – Are you interested in taking surveys to raise money for charity and a chance to win an instant win game? If so, join SurveyMonkey Contribute! For more information:

  • Joe Schmoe

    Katie and Ruth are hot.

    • Hanna J

      Hi Joe – Awww shucks. We think so too 😉

  • Great tips & it would be equally helpful to see survey that follows these suggestions

    • Hanna J

      Hi Tina – That’s a great suggestion! Maybe we’ll create a survey following those tips and embed it in a blog post. Until then, if you have any questions or need survey guidance, you can always reach us here, on our Facebook page ( or our Linkedin Customer Group ( Happy survey making!

  • As assessment coordinator in the Honors College your articles are right on target and I use all of these techniques. We assess all programs and courses each semester, different course offerings. Over the years the survey return rate has continually declined. I have tried everything that we normally do as assessment individuals, i.e. changing the time of assessment, KISS surveys, trying to new avenues and approaches, but still no success. Do you have any ideas and/or strategies for higher institutions that might improve the return rates. We are looking at developing new strategies but wondered if you have some suggestions for us?


  • I am working on changes to my website which will hopefully make it more user friendly and give better results for visitors and users .
    With this in mind I am considering setting up a survey of visitors priority requirements from a website like mine .
    If I use surveymonkey for this project is there a charge and if so on what basis is the charge made.

    Many thanks
    Tom Doyle

    • Hanna J

      Hi Tom – We do offer a free BASIC Plan. It limits the number of survey questions you can ask to 10 and the number of respondents to 100. The next level of plan is our SELECT Plan, which you can purchase month by month according to your needs. The SELECT Plan allows you to ask an unlimited number of questions, and to send your survey to an unlimited number of respondents. For a full list of plans and features offered, check out our plans and pricing page: Thank you!

  • Please keep these tips coming! I am so new at this and sometimes find myself lost in the shuffle.

    My Company and Team are extremely happy with some of the results we have received so now I am working on making the response percentage higher.

    Thanks to everyone at SurveyMonkey for providing a needed tool to so many industries!!!

    • Hanna J

      Hi Sandra – Thank YOU for your sweet comment! You really know how to make a Monkey’s day 🙂 We will continue to post new survey research, tips, and ideas here, so check back in for the latest. We’re looking forward to surveying with you. Thanks!

  • Ume

    I love surveys!

    • Hanna J

      Hi Ume – We love surveys too! We’re happy to be the survey partner you trust. Thanks, and have a great weekend.

  • sabir saroar


    • Hanna J

      Hi Sabir – That’s exactly what we were thinking about you. Thanks!

  • Great tips, thank you. Shortening the page and number of Q’s per page, and then reducing required questions really make sense, and makes me wonder what survey responses I’ve missed out on in the past.

    • Hanna J

      Hi Annette – We’re so glad you found the tip useful! We’ll continue to post survey tips, suggestions, and ideas here, so check back in for the latest. Thanks.


    • Hanna J

      Hi Ambrosoli – Thank you for your comment! We appreciate you 🙂


    • Hanna J

      Hi Ambrosoli – Thank YOU for your comment. Have a great day 🙂

  • Mike Bryant

    Thanks for the tips…all true….

    May I also add….the survey originator should think about the answers/impressions/opinions they need for them to change/modify their business or personal approach. I find too many ‘surveyors’ ask questions and then don’t realise the potential benefits from the answers.

    Another aspect….close the loop… too often results are in an the respondent doesn’t hear anymore….so what was the benefit of their feedback?

    Your Survey Monkey tool is excellent….Thanks Mike

    • Hanna J

      Hi Mike – Those are both great tips! Thank you for sharing with us and your fellow survey makers. We appreciate it! Have a great weekend 🙂

  • Thank you for the very practical tips. We have just become a licensed user and these will help so much.

    • Hanna J

      Hi Samantha – You’re so welcome! Thank YOU for trusting us with your survey making needs. We’re always here if you have questions, need suggestions, or just feel like saying hi. Have a good weekend 🙂

  • Arosha Gamage

    These are good tips. I recently did a survey as a part and partial for my PhD research. What is a good respose rate? What is the best criteria to judge it?On what basis?

    • Hanna J

      Hi Arosha – A “good” response rate depends on the context of your survey, as well as the population you’re surveying. If you’re response rate is in the double digits, good work! But again, it really depends on the population. You might try looking at the literature on your discipline to use as a benchmark. Thanks!

  • CBowen

    Great tips. Very useful for me at this time.

  • nothing much just like to say .. keep up the good work guys and good luck!..

    • Hanna J

      Thanks for the good wishes, Rujrake! We appreciate your comment. Have a great day.

  • John

    If an answer to a question is necessary to trigger the logic options, then I always tick the ‘required’ box. However if it is a ‘sensitive’ issue which people may not want to answer I always include an option such as NA or ‘Prefer not to Answer’. This enables the person who doesn’t want to disclose, what they preceive to be, sensitive information to continue with the rest of the survey.

    • Hanna J

      Hi John – That’s a great tip! Giving people an out (“NA” or “prefer not to say”) will do wonders to improve your response rate. Thank you so much for sharing. We (and your fellow survey makers) appreciate it.

  • Paulo

    When people do noo answer surveys I call them personally and I tell them how important it is for the Organization or Projects to have their responses and how much we value their responses. I also them them that the results of the survey will help us practice continuous improvement and we are not using the surveys results to blame people.

    When I have too many people answering the surveys I divide them in groups and I assign one leader for each group. The role of the Leader is to keep them engaged in answering the surveys.

    • Hanna J

      Hi Paulo – That sounds like a great strategy to increase respondent retention rates. We think many of our users would benefit from implementing a similar one. Thanks for sharing! We, and your fellow survey makers, appreciate it.

  • Location seems important. Can that be more emphisized in survey’s?

    • Hanna J

      Hi Josheph – What do you mean by location? Question Bank offers questions that allow you to easily ask what sate or US territory your respondents live in, and provides you with a drop down menu that already has those states and territories listed. Does that meet your needs? Let us know. Thanks!

  • thanks for comments ,,,,,,,,,,,,i am also interested in it.

  • Pingback: Better surveys – tips()



    • Hanna J

      You’re welcome Erastus! Thanks for reading our blog. We appreciate you.

  • Hello tehre, I am creating a survey to embed on our website but I want respondents to be able to say Nope don’t wanna do your survey – and redirect them back to our site. How do I do that?
    Appreciate any help!

    • Bennett P

      Hi Harai,

      Happy to help! If you’d like to give your respondents the ability to opt-out of taking your survey and continuing to your site, we would suggest using the Invitation Pop-up collector. This gives you the option to have a button with the pop-up of the survey for “Now, Never or Late”. Visitors to your site can then choose when, if at all, they want to take the survey. Unfortunately you cannot use the Redirect feature on our Embed collector, as it causes nesting on the pages. Here is some info for you:

  • Neat blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?

    A design like yours with a few simple adjustements would really
    make my blog jump out. Please let me know where
    you got your design. Bless you

    • Kayte K

      Hello there- we use WordPress!

      Good luck with your blog and thanks for reading and for the kind feedback. 🙂

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