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Learn how to create a survey online in 10 easy steps

Explore our sample questions and survey templates, all accessible when you sign up today!

Deciding that you need feedback is easy, but creating a survey seems hard. We’re here to tell you it's not and that we make it really easy—from our sample questions, to our pre-written survey templates, and our automatic charts and graphs.

Online surveys

You want to collect information or feedback from a group. What’s the best way to do it? A survey, of course. A survey is the easiest, most efficient way to gain insights that will help you improve your business. But the most important thing to know about surveys is that questions have to be designed a certain way to yield the data you need.

An online survey is just what it sounds like—a method for asking focused questions from a defined group of people via the internet. You can use these opinions and insights to help drive your business decisions.

Offering your survey, quiz, or questionnaire online has definite advantages and a few challenges. But don’t worry, we’re here to make the process simple. We’ll get to our 10 easy steps to create your online survey, but first, let’s take a look at a little helpful information about online surveys in general.

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Advantages of online surveys

You may have experience in taking surveys on paper, by telephone, or online. But when you’re on the analysis end of surveys, it's clear that the advantage is within online surveys.

Increased response rate

Surveys have modernized from those being filled out by hand. Online surveys tend to get higher response rates because they can be done on any device. Get more tips for improving your survey rate >

Lower, more affordable costs 

As technology has advanced, online surveys have become the more affordable alternative to using agencies and market research firms. No need to set aside a large budget for creating, distributing, and collecting surveys—you can do it all from a single platform, accessible to your entire team or organization

Real-time access

When you create an online survey, the data from your respondents is available immediately. With SurveyMonkey, you can easily analyze your results and turn them actionable insights. With no need to collect a paper questionnaire, you get your responses in real-time. The margin of error is greatly reduced because answers are entered directly into the online survey system. See how it works

Convenience

Online surveys are easy to create. Even on our most basic plans, SurveyMonkey offers sample questions and templates for almost any use case—from event planning, to customer satisfaction, and employee engagement. Our survey themes and customizations will have you making perfectly formatted, beautiful surveys in no time. Results come in real-time and our platform will use machine learning and AI to automatically analyze the data for you. There aren’t even any hassles with our advanced filtering and crosstab reports. It’s convenient for your respondents, too! They can take your survey on any device.

Design flexibility

Our platform makes it easy to format an online survey. You can create the layout you want with the questions you need. Our Question Bank even offers answer choices, right out of the box.  No programming knowledge necessary. The flexibility to create exactly what you want is a huge plus. 

No interviewer

Some survey takers might feel uncomfortable being completely forthright when speaking to someone directly in-person or on the telephone. It’s much easier to open up when responding in private. The online process also eliminates any tendency toward bias that may be present during in-person interviews. Learn more about eliminating bias in your surveys >

Cost efficiency

Online surveys do not require printing, mailing, postage, or a person to conduct interviews. There’s no need to enter data manually into a database—it’s collected automatically. This is a huge advantage and makes offering surveys more affordable than having the staff to conduct the surveys.

Accessibility

SurveyMonkey empowers you to create accessible surveys that are Section 508 and WCAG 2 compliant. We have an accessible survey checklist to help you ensure that your survey will work with a screen reader. We also offer out-of-the-box survey designs that ensure they’re accessible to people with visual disabilities.

Challenges of online surveys

Potential fraud

If your survey contains too many questions, questions that are confusing, or is just too complicated, people may not answer truthfully. Respondents are answering the survey in private, so they may not be compelled to take the time to answer accurately—they could simply be clicking any circle to get the survey done. This is especially true if they are only taking the survey to receive a promised reward.

Limited sampling and respondent availability

Some populations have limited internet access or are less likely to respond to online surveys. This may affect not only the number of respondents but the demographic of your results as well. If you need additional responses for your surveys, SurveyMonkey Audience can help. 

Possible cooperation issues

Online surveys can be deleted or ignored. Popular email clients sort mail for recipients, so surveys sent via email may not be seen in their primary inboxes or disregarded as “junk mail.”

Little oversight or moderator

While the lack of an interviewer is a strength in some ways, it’s a challenge in others. An interviewer can clarify confusing questions or ask for more details to explain answers. Without that factored in, respondents may make inaccurate assumptions that make their answers erroneous.

Types of online surveys

These 4 common types of online surveys—customer satisfaction, employee engagement, market research, and customer feedback—provide businesses with key information to inform future goals and growth. Each one provides crucial data for business plans, HR departments, product development, and customer relationships.

Customer satisfaction

Find out how your customers feel about your products, services, and business practices with a customer satisfaction survey. The information gleaned from this type of survey can be used to make changes and improvements that will keep your customers happy, loyal, and engaged with your brand. 

Use customer satisfaction surveys to:

  • Determine the effectiveness of your customer service representatives
  • Find out customer satisfaction with your brand
  • Identify products or services that resonate with your customers
  • Pinpoint areas for improvement
  • Measure customer loyalty
  • Improve customer experience

Go beyond measuring customer satisfaction and build better customer experiences across your business. Learn more about GetFeedback, the CX solution offered by Momentive (the maker of SurveyMonkey).

Employee engagement

Get a handle on how your employees feel about many aspects of your brand, services, company, and management with an employee engagement survey. Responses to these survey questions help you understand the impact of your current systems and shine a light on areas that are in need of improvement. Keep your employees engaged, happy, and more productive with employee engagement surveys.

Use employee engagement surveys to:

  • Build a more inclusive workplace
  • Understand employee sentiment with salaries, benefits, and perks
  • Evaluate job satisfaction
  • Examine manager effectiveness
  • Perform exit interviews

Learn more about SurveyMonkey Enterprise, which can help organizations create happier, more productive workplaces. 

Market research

Business from small startups to Fortune 500 companies use market research to inform their decisions. Market research surveys help you understand what your target market wants and expects, whether for a product, service, or your overall brand. Don’t rely on your gut to make those important business decisions, do your research.

Use market research surveys to:

  • Find out your target audience’s opinion of your brand, product, or service
  • Assess what is missing from the market and opportunities for growth
  • Launch new products
  • Evaluate the success of an ad campaign
  • Measure brand awareness
  • Find out where you stand against competitors

Drive better decisions by capturing market needs, industry trends, and buyer feedback. Explore SurveyMonkey Market Research Solutions

Customer feedback

Your customers can help you improve your business through customer feedback surveys. Gather feedback throughout the customer journey to assess brand awareness, purchase experience, retention, and loyalty.

Use customer feedback surveys to:

  • Better understand your customers’ behaviors, perceptions, and attitudes
  • Measure brand awareness and sentiment
  • Identify pain points in your purchase flow
  • Optimize your customer service
  • Improve customer loyalty

Before creating your survey

So, now you’re ready to take advantage of all those benefits from an online survey. Here are a few things you need to do before you start actually creating the survey:

Determine the objective

The first and most important step when thinking about how to make a survey is to identify why, exactly, you want to create a survey in the first place. In other words, what’s the objective?

A concise and focused objective can help you make a survey that asks just the questions you need to get answers you can apply. Here are some things to ask yourself as you brainstorm your survey’s objective:

  • Who else will be seeing and using the responses? 
  • What insights am I hoping to gain? 
  • What decisions am I ultimately looking to make?

Familiarize yourself with our tips for creating a survey

Once you understand why you want to make a survey, you can move forward in building it. This page will show you how to create a survey that delivers invaluable insights through the following key tips. 

Introduce the survey’s purpose

What is your objective? Exactly what do you want to learn from this survey? Make sure you have a clear goal in mind before you begin formulating questions so your data is relevant to what you want to learn. This will help you design the survey to address your objective.

Determine your target audience

Who is your target audience for this objective? Clearly define who you want to receive data from—is it customers? Employees? Defined demographic groups? Determine what group of people is going to give you the insights you need. If you want to know about your brand awareness, then you’ll want to target the market, and perhaps a specific demographic that already knows your company. However, if you want to know how your product is performing, you’d reach out to the people already using it—customers.

Use survey questions judiciously

Keep your survey questions to the minimum necessary to collect the data you need. Don’t overwhelm respondents with extraneous queries. Short, focused questions will lead to better quality and quantity of responses. We recommend keeping surveys to 10 questions max. And if you need to go beyond that, consider offering respondents an incentive for providing their feedback, i.e. discounted coupons.

Speak the respondents’ language

It’s important to communicate clearly in your survey. This means literally creating a multilingual survey if necessary, as well as using language that reflects your target audience’s cultural norms. Stay away from corporate jargon like “vertical,” “thought leadership,” and “growth hacking.” Present your survey with clear, concise, natural language.

Test the survey

Before you send the survey out, test it. Have some of your team members or a few select members of your target audience take the survey. This will help you identify any glitches or questions that aren’t clear, so you can fix them before sending the survey to your full list. Learn more about collaborating on surveys as a team

Offer incentives

Depending on the survey and the audience, offering an incentive may increase your response rate. Most people like being rewarded for their time. SurveyMonkey research has found that incentives can improve your response rates by an average of 50%. Try to keep the incentive in line with what you’re asking of the participants. If the incentive is too large, you may receive fraudulent results as people take the survey multiple times to obtain the incentive.

Send reminders

Response rates can be improved by sending out reminders to those who have yet to respond to your survey. Send a reminder 48-72 hours after your initial survey request. If you need to send further reminders, limit them to 4. Make sure you’ve set a cutoff point for accepting surveys and don’t send any reminders beyond that point.

Get additional resources from SurveyMonkey

Find additional resources on creating online surveys from our blog, and visit our Help Center any time to learn how we can help you create the best survey for your purpose.

How to create a survey in 10 simple steps

There are a lot of choices to make when you’re writing a survey, but following some basic rules can help you make the right choices every time. Here are 10 great tips for creating a survey that gets you the answers you need.

1. Use formatting

Group similar questions to keep your survey logical and focused. Page breaks, page titles, and instructions help people understand what you’re asking and why.

Example of grouping similar questions together with page breaks

2. Send frequent surveys

Using the same question in a series of surveys or even using the same survey over time is a good way to build a baseline and measure changes in respondents’ attitudes.

A list of similar questions to test the respondents' attitudes

3. Be brief in your questions

Respondents really don’t like surveys that are too long. So, when you’re thinking about how to make a survey, just remember to minimize the number of questions you ask. Browse through hundreds of sample survey questions and survey templates to help you craft the perfect survey for your needs.

4. Enlist the help of others

Work on your survey with your team with our collaboration features. A 2019 TechValidate study revealed that more than 80% of our customers create better surveys and get better results when they collaborate. Empower your team, improve efficiency, and share data faster with collaboration.

Get your own social proof at scale. TechValidate captures and transforms customer feedback into case studies, statistics, testimonials, and more. 

5. Stick to specifics

Create survey questions that explore one idea at a time to make sure your respondents can understand what you’re asking. Vague, general, multi-part questions can be confusing and tough to answer.

6. Clarify in your survey question answers

Spell out everything that could be interpreted in more than one way. Want to know if someone is conservative in your political survey? Make sure you specify whether you’re talking about the way they dress, their politics, their preference in music or cuisine, or their political party preference.

List of very specific questions example

7. Keep questions relevant

Create a survey that keeps respondents focused by only showing them questions that directly apply to them. A great way to do this is by using skip logic to eliminate irrelevant questions.

Skip logic details

8. Go easy on yes/no questions

This type of closed-ended questions doesn’t capture people who are on the fence or the nuances of opinion. Yes/no questions are best for gathering a generic stat for something, such as 75% of people said they loved pizza. But this doesn’t give a scale of how much they love pizza or even what type of pizza they love. These types of questions can be valuable, but you won’t get much data if your entire survey includes them. Learn more about closed-ended vs open-ended questions

9. Know when to use matrix questions

Presented with a matrix, respondents will typically focus on filling out the grid rather than paying careful attention to each question—and that will damage your data quality. Be sure to check out our tips for writing matrix questions for guidance.

10. Rely on survey templates and the Question Bank

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Our survey template library is a great place to find the perfect survey style and questions. 

With that, you know how to make a survey that brings in the responses you need to make better decisions!

If you want to become a true survey expert, check out our steps on steps on writing survey questions. And if you want to create a survey more easily? We’ve got a ton of ready-to-use survey templates for you to choose from. From customer satisfaction to marketing to employee engagement templates, we have a variety of options to help you make a survey that shines. Finally, for even more tips more tips and tricks on creating great surveys, check out the SurveyMonkey blog.

Additional survey design resources

Take advantage of these great SurveyMonkey resources, and you’ll create a survey in no time!

  • Easy question creation - With 15 question types, including rating scales, multiple choice, and more, it’s easy to create online surveys from scratch. Or, choose certified questions from Question Bank, our library of question templates.
  • Custom branding - Customize the look and feel of your surveys. Add your logo, company name, colors, and images. Create your own survey URL and send respondents to a promotional landing page upon survey completion.
  • Advanced features - Get the data you need with required questions and response validation. Eliminate bias with random assignment (A/B testing) and randomization. Create interactive surveys with skip logic and question piping.
  • Find survey respondents - Reach your ideal target market by buying high-quality, well-targeted responses through our fast DIY market research solution SurveyMonkey Audience.
  • Make your survey anonymous - We’re often asked: “Is SurveyMonkey anonymous?” The answer is yes—if you want it to be. More often than not, you’re in a better position to decide if your audience wants the feedback to be kept private or to not; while our focus is kept on equipping you with the technology and know-how so you can make and act on that decision. Follow these 3 steps if you want your audience’s responses to be kept confidential.

Now that you know how to create an online survey, go ahead and get started with SurveyMonkey!

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