Introduce Your Survey Effectively

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Author John Towler, Ph.D.

How to conduct effective surveys

You'll need to make sure your survey is well-placed on your site so that it gets enough attention, and you will need to offer some incentive to generate participation. You may want to monitor responses to determine whether additional measures need to be taken to increase response and completion rates.

Decide How Much Participation You Need in Order to Have an Effective Survey
How many participants will you need in order to have an effective survey? This depends on how large a sample you must have in order to get accurate results. Suppose you have 2,000 customers and get responses from only 1 percent, or 20 people. You cannot make sound marketing decisions based on these results. The sample is not large enough to be an accurate representative sample of your customers. If you simply want to find out what people like about your Web site, the numbers of people responding to your survey won't be quite as important. Decide on a firm closing date so participants know when the survey period ends. They will also want to know when they should expect to see survey results.

Offer Incentives for Participation in Your Survey
As much as some people may like taking surveys, they may not be inclined to do so unless you offer them something in return. If they can see a direct personal benefit for participating, they will be more likely to take the time to provide you with useful information.

This incentive can be something as simple as a letter asking for their help or a clear statement of your survey goals on your site. For example, it you are trying to improve your delivery system, contacting the customers who have bought from you and explaining how their participation will help your delivery may be sufficient.

However, if you are surveying 15-year-old boys to see which computer game they like best, you may want to offer them an incentive for participating. You could, for example, enter their names into a drawing for one of the games or a shopping spree at a favorite store. You could roll out the survey as a contest with a drawing for a grand prize.

Free things of any kind can generate a high level of interest even if you don't have a large budget for giveaway prizes. Often you can obtain a discount, special product, or extra service features at a special price, and it is well worth your investment to use these discounts to generate interest and provide you with demographic data about your customers' needs and wants. You may also be able to interest a third party in providing the giveaway item simply for the publicity or for shared access to the data you collect. Look for a company that serves the same target audience, sells complementary products, or offers a product or service with broad appeal.

Publicize Your Survey on Multiple Occasions to Generate Participation:
Place your survey prominently on your Web site so it is easy to find. Use an eye-catching graphic or a clever teaser to call attention to your survey so that visitors will see it.

You may not reach your audience at the most convenient moment the first time you announce your survey. But if you keep publicizing your survey, you may persuade someone to participate at a later time. You could turn your survey into a contest and count down the number of days left, to remind your audience to participate. You could send e-mail to members of your prospective audience throughout the survey period to encourage them to participate.

John Towler is a Psychologist and the founder of Creative Organizational Design. Please send comments about this article to jtowler@creativeorgdesign.com. For more information, please contact us.

Re-printable with permission.