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Seven Tips for Writing Better Survey Questions

When creating an online survey, how you create the questions themselves will have a big influence on the outcome and on the participation level. Keeping in mind that the survey is meant both for gathering information and for encouraging customer interaction and return visits, the survey questions should be interesting, entertaining, and thoughtful.

Keep the following tips for survey questions in mind:

Tips for Survey Questions 1: Don’t take up too much of your customer’s time.

If your survey is well-written, it will be a fun and enjoyable experience for the visitor. Keeping it relatively short will ensure that they do not lose interest halfway through. Keep the survey under ten questions and keep each question short and uncomplicated.

Tips for Survey Questions 2: Keep it familiar.

Survey questions are interactive and informal, like a blog. Don’t be afraid to use common language, contractions, and conversational language. Don’t make it too formal-sounding, and avoid heavy use of jargon, or highly technical or academic language.

Tips for Survey Questions 3: The survey is not the place for open-ended “essay” type questions.

Although you may include a space at the end of the survey for additional, optional comments, the survey itself should include brief, multiple-choice answers that can be answered with a simple check-off box. You should make your respondents think, but don’t make them think too much!

Tips for Survey Questions 4: Avoid complex questions with multiple points.

A compound question that incorporates more than one concept can be confusing to answer, and even more confusing to analyze later on. Keep the questions simple and focused on one single issue or point.

Tips for Survey Questions 5: Generate excitement.

Before you write the actual questions, create a short introduction to the survey. Keep it to just a couple lines, and write an interesting and exciting headline. The goal is to generate excitement about the survey and encourage your visitor to participate. At the end of the survey, be sure to include a call to action to encourage visitors to return later to view the results, or to sign up with their email address to receive future mailings.

Tips for Survey Questions 6: Use a numerical rating response for some of your questions.

For example, you can ask them to rate their experience on a continuous scale of one to ten, with ten being the best. When creating these types of questions, keep the scale at no less than five and no more than ten, for optimal results.

Tips for Survey Questions 7: Maintain a single theme for the survey.

Don’t attempt to be too all-encompassing. If the questions seem too broad and varied, then break it up into multiple surveys.