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Video Tutorial: 5 Questions to Ask for a Successful Survey

Video Tutorial: 5 Questions to Ask for a Successful Survey

A few weeks ago, SurveyMonkey’s senior methodologist Dr. Liana Epstein, shared the 5 questions you need to ask yourself before you send out your survey.

As she explained, when getting ready to create a survey, it’s easy to jump in and start immediately adding questions. However, there are some pretty important questions to ask yourself before you start building your survey. These 5 basic questions — how, why, who, when, & what — tend not to get much attention as the more popular questions you include in your survey but can make a significant impact on your results.

In fact, we think they’re so important that we made a quick video for you. So take a look, your survey (and your respondents) will thank your for it!

So, to quickly recap, here are Dr. Liana’s 5 questions to ask for survey success:

Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Send Your Survey

1.    How:          How do you want to ask?

Okay, this is the easy part. After all, you’re reading this blog or watching this video because you already decided that you want to use an online survey to do the asking for you. So really, the place to start is our second question…

 2.    Why:          Why do you want to ask?

The most important step in a survey is figuring out what you actually want to know and making your objectives clear and simple.

3.    Who:          Who do you want to ask?

Survey respondents should be a “sample” of a “population.” A population is the entire set of people who you want to ask. Your sample is the portion of that bigger population that actually ends up taking your survey.

(*Survey Tip* Need help accessing a sample of your target population? We have an Audience available to take your surveys.)

4.    When:        When do you want to ask?

In surveys, depending on who you want to respond, you’re going to want to send out invitations at different points of the week, and leave surveys open for different amounts of time—especially if you want to get more responses. Closing a survey too quickly can frustrate people who tried to respond, and exclude people who are just a little slower at getting around to things.

5.    What:        What do you want to ask?

There are so many different kinds of question designs and factors to consider, but here are some general guidelines to get you started. First of all, keep your questions simple, straightforward, and concise. This will make it easy for your survey-takers to understand what you’re asking, and will make it easy for you to analyze your data.

Next, if you’re going to give your survey-takers answer choices, try not to use more than 7 answer choices for any given question—people get overwhelmed. Also, make sure to label the answer choices. So that means don’t ask your survey-takers to rate how happy they are on a scale of 1 to 5. Ask them if they’re extremely happy, very happy, moderately happy, slightly happy, or not at all happy. Words are easier for people to think about than numbers.

And finally, if you need a little more help, check out Question Bank, our library with thousands of pre-written, methodologically sound questions to help you get the most useful responses.

Any more questions about survey methodology? Let us know in the comments section below!

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12 thoughts on “Video Tutorial: 5 Questions to Ask for a Successful Survey

  1. lolly says:

    I like the information video

  2. Lamidi A. Taofeek says:

    Nice to get information as thus,it enhances my knowledge of research methodology. Thanks for a laudable job.

    1. Bennett P says:

      Thanks Lamidi!

  3. Ed says:

    Very good video, however it would be much better if she would not be looking on her right and read from whenever she was reading this from. People are like sponges, if something doesn’t look “real” they would not get this video seriously. Liana also needs to be much more relaxed and shoot something that’s not so “student-like”,


    1. Bennett P says:

      Thanks Ed – Liana’s been a teacher for years, but this was her first time on video. I’m sure she’ll get more comfortable as time goes on.

      Thanks for the feedback, and for watching the video.

    2. Chris says:

      Ed you’re a dufus. I think Dr. Epstein did a fine job. Yes, I could one could tell she was reading something off camera, but who cares, pay attention. BTW- she was looking to her “left”, not “right”. It would be your right as the viewer. Maybe it’s Ed’s attention span that needs work. Besides she got the message across and the only thing I saw about her that seemed “student-like” was that she looked young. Which, to me, would indicate bright, since she already has her PhD. Jealous Ed? Besides it’s an instructional video, and having someone intelligent and pretty on screen is a plus if you ask me. Who says a PhD. can’t be adorable. I thought you did fine Liana. If you ever do a workshop in Texas I’d be happy to come see you speak.

  4. Ron Manns says:

    There is another extremely important question to ask regarding a survey:

    What do you plan to do with the results of the survey?

    If you understand how you want to use the results, you can better formulate questions to elicit feedback that really helps you take action. For example, perhaps you want to use the feedback from the survey to determine whether or not to continue offering a specific service. In another case, perhaps you want to take action to improve a service and want to determine how to prioritize possible enhancements.

  5. Elaine says:

    Liked the video – Is there another video that answers the 5 questions specifically for a Corporate audience?

    1. Sheila G says:

      Thanks Elaine! Not one just yet, but a great idea. Stay tuned for more…

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