Where do you live? What do you do? How much do you earn? Pardon the personal questions, but gathering demographic information from questions like these is a great way to better understand your audience.
Demographic information allows you to better understand certain background characteristics of an audience, whether it’s their age, race, ethnicity, income, work situation, marital status, etc. By asking demographic questions in surveys, you can gather demographic information about current and potential customers at scale, and in turn, help you design a market segmentation strategy to reach the right clients.
What’s the definition of demographic survey questions? And more importantly, how should you use them in your surveys? Get answers to these questions and more in this article, with detailed tips for implementing them, and tools to analyze demographic information. You’ll also find specific sample survey questions and demographic examples that you can apply in your own questionnaire.
It’s best to ask demographic questions if the information is necessary for your research. Try to avoid including the basic questions like age, race, gender, and marital status that many respondents might be familiar with unless it’s absolutely necessary. While it’s great to establish a baseline demographic, you also want to avoid survey fatigue, where respondents grow tired of answering too many questions. Always build your questionnaire with the objective of providing relevant insights.
Whether you think demographic questions should be placed at the beginning or end of a questionnaire depends on how sensitive the question is. For instance, if you need to know your audience’s income level, then it’s probably best not to lead with that question. But if you need to know the respondent’s age, that information is less likely to be as sensitive and can be placed at the beginning of your survey along with the name–unless you’re conducting an anonymous survey.
Marketers are one group of professionals who have a lot to gain from asking demographic questions.
The more they know about their target population, the higher the chances their messaging will resonate with their desired audience.
Think of how different your marketing efforts would be if you knew that most of your target population is composed of married men in a high-income bracket rather than single female college students. Or what if you were aiming for male retirees in California instead of female executives in the Midwest? Knowing a little about your target audience can make a big difference.
This kind of information is useful in many scenarios: You can benefit from it when developing products, measuring ad effectiveness, providing health services, understanding public opinion—even selling cars.
Anyone—regardless of their sector or industry—can benefit from finding relevant information about their audiences with SurveyMonkey demographic surveys.
The questions from SurveyMonkey’s demographic survey templates allow you to segment audiences on the basis of income, gender, location, and other factors.
A buyer persona represents your buying audience. With a buyer persona, you’re generalizing who your ideal customer is along with their likes, dislikes, and buying habits.
Demographic questions allow you to find trends in the market that can help you reposition your business to remain relevant. For instance, if sales drop, demographic data can tell you if you’re priced too high for a particular group.
Delving into the psychology of a target audience can help you know your audience better. The right experience management platform can inform you why people prefer one brand over another.
Using demographic questions helps you target the right buying audience. For instance, you might discover women prefer your product more than men. This information could be very helpful if you intended to market to men.
Demographic information examples include: age, race, ethnicity, gender, marital status, income, education, and employment. You can easily and effectively collect these types of information with survey questions.
Now, what do all these examples have in common? They’re all concrete characteristics that help narrow down which market segment the people in your target audience best fit into. That means you can split a larger group into subgroups based on, say, income or education level. Demographic questions are key to this process, but why do market segmentation in the first place?
SurveyMonkey has many expert-designed survey templates you can use straight out of the box, or as a reference to build your own customized questionnaire.
You can also use the certified questions available in the Question Bank, which is a great option in case you need to insert just a few demographic questions in a broader survey—a pretty common practice.
The following are some examples of good demographic survey questions:
Which category below includes your age?
Are you White, Black or African-American, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, or some other race?
Pro tip: For demographic questions like the last one, it’s a good idea to add an “Other (please specify)” answer option. This type of answer option gives respondents a text box to self-identify.
What is your gender?
Note that the last question requires a text box for the respondent to self-identify.
Are you now married, widowed, divorced, separated, or never married?
What is the highest level of school you have completed or the highest degree you have received?
Which of the following categories best describes your employment status?
How much total combined money did all members of your household earn in 2010?
Are your living quarters owned or being bought by you or someone in your household, rented for cash, or occupied without payment of cash rent?
What language do you mainly speak at home?
How many children are you parent or guardian for that live in your household (aged 17 or younger only)?
Where do you currently get your news about state politics?
Do you identify with any of the following religions? (Select all that apply.)
Looking for an audience to send surveys to? Our SurveyMonkey Audience product includes these attributes and more, so you can send your survey to the right people.
You’re almost ready to create your own demographic questionnaire… but first, how about reviewing some tips to make sure that you implement the best practices in survey methodology?
Online surveys are a great way to reach a broad audience. You can post demographic questionnaires to your website, send them through email, or ask for responses through Facebook and other social media channels.
If you need help reaching the right target audience, you can rely on a service that will get you enough respondents to conduct a successful survey with the right demographic mix. SurveyMonkey Audience not only makes it easy to find people who will take your survey, it also eliminates the need for them to even answer demographic questions.
How? Well, you can send your questionnaire to a selected group of respondents based on the demographic targets you want to reach. SurveyMonkey Audience knows who is taking the survey and therefore it can automatically pipe in five types of demographic information (gender, age, household income, device used to take the survey, and location) directly into your results. This saves the respondent time and ensures you’re reaching the right people.
Using the Filter and Compare tools in SurveyMonkey Analyze, you can easily compare and contrast how different demographic groups answer your questions. This makes demographic segmentation and data analysis with SurveyMonkey Audience even easier.
Now that you’ve seen what sample demographic questions actually look like, you can check out some ready-to-use demographic survey templates.
The following are templates, that include demographic survey questions, straight from the minds of SurveyMonkey’s expert survey methodologists:
* Please note that some demographics templates are available in English only at this time.
This six-question template asks respondents about gender, age, education, employment, household income, and race.
In addition to the six questions posed in the Snapshot Template, this 12-question template asks about geographic location, housing, marital status, ethnicity, business or farm ownership, and personal income.
With two quick questions, learn about respondents’ employment status and the type of work they do.
Discover the makeup of your school community with 16 basic demographic questions about gender, income, race, relationship to student, and more.
Learn more about the companies on your customer list with this 10-question survey that asks when the company was founded, where it’s headquartered, number of employees and locations, and more.
These B2B survey templates help your business clients understand their end customers. Demographic questions include age, gender, education level, employment status, annual household income, marital and family status, housing, business, and farm ownership.
SurveyMonkey offers many other demographic survey templates, including Commuting, Household Budget, General Internet Usage, Language Proficiency, Mobile or Cell Phone Use, and U.S. Military Service.
With this comprehensive guide to asking demographic questions on surveys, you’re ready to ask your target audience for all the information that you may need for your next project. Start your own survey now→