Surveys or questionnaires are an excellent marketing tool for businesses because they give you the power to create your own narrative. They also provide the all-important statistics to back it up. And, according to research, 74% of readers find content that contains data to be more trustworthy than content without.

Surveys are a tried and tested way to get up to date information relatively quickly.  All of which can be used across a range of mediums – whether it’s email marketing, blogs, social media posts, or to generate media coverage.

However, a survey is only as good as the questions it asks.  Which is why we’ve rounded up some top tips for getting them just right.

Start with the answers

This may seem like a strange way to go about it, but if you think about what you want to achieve from the survey before you write it, you can tailor the questions accordingly.  It will also help make sure that you ask everything that you need, in a way that guarantees useable answers.

Short is sweet

This applies to the number of questions and how much of a response people need to give.  Of course, this needs to be balanced against being able to elicit sufficient informative data. We’d suggest no more than 10 questions if possible. According to research, typical survey response rates are in the 5% to 30% range. One reason cited for low response rates was ‘complex or lengthy’ surveys involving long questions with ‘bewildering answer choices’.

Not all questions are equal

Multiple choice questions are quicker to answer than ones where the respondent has to type a response in their own words.  They will also give you numerical or comparative data to work with – always a plus. That’s not to say that open-ended questions don’t have a value too.  They are useful for obtaining specific commentary from your audience. But we’d suggest placing these towards the end of your survey. That way, if the respondent decides not to answer, you still capture all the other information.

Keep it simple

When it comes to writing the survey, use clear and concise language and avoid unnecessarily long words.  Also, be specific.  So, rather than ‘do you eat healthily?’ which is subjective, ask ‘how many portions of fruit and vegetables do you eat each day?’

Testing testing

Make sure to test your survey thoroughly before you send it out to your database. You could be too close to it to be objective so don’t be too proud to ask friends and family to act as guinea pigs! Ask your testers to tell you about questions they found confusing or difficult to understand.

The results speak for themselves

We recently pulled together a survey for SE20 Community Magazine, to generate some statistics about attitudes to shopping since the start of the pandemic.

The eight question survey included a mix of multiple choice and open-ended questions.  It was distributed to the magazine database via email marketing and posted across all social channels.  The response rate was impressive and the data collected – including name dropping of favourite local shops – invaluable.

SE20 Community Magazine founder and editor, Belinda O’ Grady, was able to use the data to encourage business owners to advertise in the magazine by illustrating the appetite of people for buying local.  She also used the results across social media, tagging relevant brands, and wrote an article about the findings for the magazine.

‘The survey gave the business a buzz’

Belinda said: “The questions on the survey were appropriate and to the point. The survey was short and quick with multiple choice answers and it looked so professional.

“The insights really gave the business a buzz! It was a very good talking point, loads of people answered and our profile was definitely raised. This prompted more enquiries and increased brand recognition. I would use a survey again. It was a wonderful tool.”

Here at Semaphore, we have been implementing imaginative marketing ideas for SMEs for years. More years than we would like to mention in fact (!). But we get results. If you are looking to add surveys to your marketing tool kit, get in touch for a free no obligation phone call.