Five Ways to Get the Clearest, Most Useful and Greatest Number of Responses to Your Online Surveys

I learned a lot in this last survey of Getting Attention readers and other nonprofit marketers. BTW, if you haven’t responded yet, please take 5 minutes to do share info on your current marketing challenges and frustrations. I’ll report back and the results will be a useful guide–promise.

The results to date are incredibly useful, and I’ll report out to you in April. But right now I want to share some tips on generating the best online survey results possible:

  1. Be extremely clear about what you’re looking for, and don’t include any gratuitous questions.
  2. Minimize the time required to complete the survey by following #1, structuring questions to be answered as easily as possible (e.g. check boxes rather than open ended questions when it makes sense) and no more than 10 questions at most. Don’t make the respondents spend more than five minutes, or you’ll lose them.
  3. Lead with the questions for which answers are most critical (the inverted pyramid structure strikes again). Some folks always fall off.
  4. Be consistent in the way you ask — if 1 is the worst and 5 the best, those rankings should stay consistent throughout the survey. Confused readers flee, asap.
  5. Offer an incentive to increase survey participation. We’re all too busy to do everything that’s asked of us, even if the asker is someone or an organization we like and support. Make it more attractive to respond to your survey, and make the offer from the get-go. A drawing for an I-pod for survey respondents is a popular incentive of the moment.

So even though there are more organizations than ever surveying your audiences, these are a few ways to make sure your survey gets the greatest number of responses. Any strategies to add to the list? Please comment below.

Nancy Schwartz on March 28, 2007 in Audience Research, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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  • When considering incentives for survey respondents, note that points programs are particularly effective, especially when the rewards are appropriate to the participants. Points programs allow participants to earn credit toward merchandise or gift cards for completing certain actions (i.e., completing a survey, referring a friend, linking to your website, etc.) and even allow them to make donations to charitable organizations in lieu of redeeming for themselves. Whatever option you choose, consider the cost, the amount of effort you’d like to expend, and the type of results you’re looking for, ultimately. Good luck!

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