5 Ingredients to Make a Good Survey

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So you want to make a good survey eh? One people will actually take action on and provide you with their feedback so you know where your business is excelling and where you need to pick up the slack?

So what makes a good survey a good survey? There are 5 key ingredients you need to make sure every survey you promote has.

Ingredient #1 – Brevity

Brevity is ingredient #1 because it is by far the most important ingredient for your survey. People are busy and there’s simply no way of getting around that.

If they’re not working, they’re spending time catching up with their families, enjoying the latest Marvel movie, or sleeping. Well, at least that’s what I’m doing.

And from what I know about the fast-paced internet culture we are in is that people are hustling every day to put more money in their pockets. Many times this includes working on several projects, launching new features to their existing products, hosting webinars to spread awareness about their business, running Facebook ads, etc. It all adds up.

If you are one of these people, then you understand the point I’m trying to make. Your customers simply do not have enough time to honestly answer an extensive survey.

Now this doesn’t mean that you should just give up on trying to acquire feedback from surveys. Rather, you just need to adjust your survey strategies to align better with the time we live in. Which means, make your surveys shorter.

At YesInsights, we take this belief to a bit of an extreme. Our surveys only ask one question at a time. We’ve discovered that it’s the best way to increase the honesty and response rates of your survey data.

If your surveys aren’t getting the response rates you think that they should, try eliminating 5, 10, or even all of your survey questions until you only have a few (or better yet – one) question to ask.

Ingredient #2 – Meaningful questions

This ingredient¬†goes hand-in-hand with the previous ingredient. When you can only ask one single question, you’re forced to make it a meaningful question.

All too often, I get emails asking if I’ll complete a survey only to get halfway through it because I feel like these questions aren’t too meaningful for me or the business that is asking them. So, I close out of the tab I’m in and the company who is conducting the survey never gets any¬†of the feedback I provided.

Obviously, this is not beneficial to either side. The respondent gets frustrated and leaves before the survey is over and the business never gets valuable feedback from their customers.

Don’t waste your time putting together surveys that ask questions that won’t provide you with any actionable feedback from the people you are asking. For example, you shouldn’t ask questions like “How has your experience been with us?”. That question is too vague to provide any meaningful insights. Rather, you should ask the NPS question which asks how likely you would be to recommend our business to a friend. This question will not only tell you how they feel about your business but will also implicitly remind them to tell their colleagues (if they love your business).

Ingredient #3 – Ask clear questions

Another pet peeve of mine is when you’re taking a survey but the verbiage and corresponding answers are too confusing to even answer. Instead of wasting more time trying to figure out what they’re asking, most people will simply end the survey on the spot.

You want your survey questions (and their corresponding answers) to make complete sense. Don’t ask a question such as “The material provided was the right technological depth” with the answers being excellent, very good, good, bad, and very bad. The syntax in that example makes no sense and will likely have people fleeing before they even think of a response!

Ingredient #4 – Don’t add too many responses

This image is the perfect example of having too many responses:

image of a survey with a ton of response choices

Again, this will scare people away from answering, or perhaps worse, they’ll just select the first answer they see and your data won’t provide any insights to the problems your customers might actually be facing.

Keep it simple. Your survey answers should never have more than 10 possible responses, and even 10 is far too many. We would recommend keeping it under 6 answers so you don’t overload your respondents and scare them away.

Ingredient #5 – Send your survey at the right time

There is a time when you should send surveys and a time when you shouldn’t send surveys. Generally, you want to send a survey after you’ve completed a project of some kind for a client or they interacted with your business in some way (i.e. visited your website or signed up for your email list).

You don’t just want to blast out a survey to all your clients once a week or at times when they’ll likely miss your email (such as on the weekend).

Even if you have followed the 4 other ingredients, if you neglect this last ingredient, your survey results will suffer.

Keep in mind that people aren’t eager to answer surveys they get. They have other things to do. But if you follow the advice laid out in this article, you’ll be well on your way to boosting your survey results and getting feedback that you can take action on!


If you want to revolutionize your surveying, you can YesInsights completely free for a week by clicking here.

John is the Marketing Lead at YesInsights. John is motivated by a desire to make other's lives easier, particularly through digital means. He is fascinated by seeing other businesses grow, and that's how John landed at YesInsights.

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