Top Tips for Effective Online Questionnaires

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Whether you’re a human resources professional conducting exit interviews, or an auto body shop owner trying to close the customer feedback loop, you’ve got to ask the right survey questions to get the answers you need.

The first step begins with clearly defining your goals—what are you trying to find out, exactly? Would an online poll help you identify trends or patterns—say, mobile adoption among your users—and inform product development plans? Are you just trying to calculate your Net Promoter Score? Or will you send out an online questionnaire to boost attendance levels for your next sales conference? Maybe you’re trying to win back clients who have decided to part ways. It’s important to know exactly what your objectives are in order to create an effective online questionnaire. Only then can you start asking the right questions.

The Go-To Guide for Crafting Better Questions

  • Work backwards, move forward faster. Emphasizing the earlier point about defining your goals, working backwards will help you ask all the questions and get all the answers (or metrics) you need for your questionnaire. For instance, if your questionnaire compares ad concepts, you might make the hypothesis that project Bubbles is preferred by X% of the respondent sample versus project King Louie, and Y% compared to project Caesar. Even though you’re not certain of the responses that will unfold, you can get a clear idea of what questions you need to ask.
  • Stick with clear, straightforward language. Avoid technical words, jargon, lingo, or any industry-specific language that might confuse or frustrate your survey respondents. You’ll also want to be specific and concrete. Better to poll survey takers on ‘cell phone’ usage instead of ‘handheld device’ usage. ‘Music’ is much more specific than ‘content.’ An easy way to make sure you’re using plain, easy-to-understand language in your questionnaire? Consider using a pre-test and send out your online survey or poll to colleagues.
  • Don’t use double-barreled questions. While it might be tempting to combine two questions in one, resist the urge, or risk the reliability of your survey data. Take, for example, the following market research question: “Do you like our brand new Popsicle flavor, and would you buy it more frequently than the original flavor?” Since there are two questions embedded within, it’s difficult to gauge what respondents feel about each of the statements.
  • Say no to leading language. Riddled with assumptive questions, a big questionnaire no-no is the use of leading language. Take the following example: “There are many people who complain that emergency room wait times are unreasonably long. Are you one of them?” Clearly, the question assumes what it is asking, leading respondents to answer a specific way.
  • Take a cue from the experts. Sometimes you need to look to the experts to get inspiration for your surveys. SurveyMonkey Question Bank is your source for thousands of pre-written, certified questions created by our team of methodologists. It’s easy to find and add the most frequently-asked questions types by category. Every question and response set has been written to reduce bias and give you the most accurate answers possible.

Use these top tips for creating effective questions for your online questionnaires, polls, and surveys. Millions of people use SurveyMonkey, including 100% of the Fortune 100.

Now it’s your turn. Get started today. SurveyMonkey Audience gives you access to millions of respondents ready to provide the answers you need to make critical decisions.

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