Blog | How to create the most engaging surveys?

Published September 27, 2018 by Jake Pryszlak | Research Geek

Market Research
How to create the most engaging surveys?

Jake is an influential market research blogger who speaks at conferences worldwide. Through his blog, the Research Geek, he holds a strong social media presence, which has been instrumental in him being recognized as one of the best young market researchers in 2017 as well as one of the most influential market researchers on social media in 2018.

 

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As of the first quarter of 2018, Android users were able to choose from approximately 3.8 million apps; Apple users followed closely with over 2 million available apps. No wonder it’s becoming harder to reach today’s tech-savvy and time-conscious consumers.

As consumers ourselves, many of us will go to a supermarket, out for a drink with friends, watch Netflix, download the latest App on our phones and look out for the latest gadgets to purchase. In our day-to-day lives, brands still require actionable insights from ourselves to improve the customer experience and product development.

In a digitally-charged world, how do organizations gain this insight? Engaging surveys are critical. An engaging survey can increase response rates beyond 50% when compared to one that causes problems. It can then, in turn, unlock the feedback that’s invaluable to organizations.

As a market research industry blogger and speaker, I’ve seen many different surveys in my time. Through my career, I have also been able to conduct my own research into the science of online surveys. Based on these studies and first-hand experience, here are 3 proven top-tips for creating an engaging survey:

 

Tip #1: Why less is more—The optimal survey length

A good survey is twofold. It should consider 1) your needs for data and capabilities and 2) the experience for respondents. It should also collect complete, accurate and reliable data.

The connection between the number of questions in an online survey and the time spent answering each question is not linear. On average, the more questions you ask, the less time your respondents spend answering each question. In other words, the more questions (and answers) you wish to find out from your participants, the more they will “speed” through it, usually degrading the quality and reliability of your data.

From my own research, I found that consumers took over a minute to answer the first question in a survey, including any time spent reading through instructions. From there, respondents spent an average of 5 minutes total answering the remaining questions in a 10-question survey. That’s just over 33 seconds per question for questions 2 through 10! As shown in the image above, participants take more time per question when responding to shorter surveys compared to longer surveys.

 

Top-tip #1: Less is more. Shorter surveys collect more thorough and thoughtful feedback, the key to generating more valuable insights.

 

Tip #2: Progress bars—Should they be in or out?

Granted, these are small differences of only a few percentage points. But every little bit counts when keeping your completion rates high and minimizing bias!

Using a number of online surveys, I compared completion rates of surveys with and without progress bars. I also tested whether their location would impact customer results.

All surveys were 10-pages long and asked the same 13 questions in the same order; the only difference between them was the placement and type of progress bar. Over 20 surveys were tested with more than 500 responses.

Once the surveys were closed, I compared the completion rates for each of the different surveys with various progress bars.

The findings: More positive results came from moving the progress bar to the bottom of the page. And all in all, the bottom progress bars with visual scales showed the most consistently positive results.

 

Top-tip #2: Progress bars should go at the bottom—not the top!—of each page of the survey. And the visual scale displayed alone, without page numbers or percent complete, is best.

 

Tip #3: Should I make survey questions required?

So, you have designed your survey, and you’re ready to launch—congrats! One nagging worry: I’ve put all this work into writing my survey, but what if people skip some of my questions?

Well, not so fast.

  • If all questions in a survey are required, you might end up with fewer responses overall.
  • And in addition to getting fewer overall responses, an even bigger potential problem with required questions is getting wrong responses.

My best advice? Only set required questions when absolutely necessary. For example, it’s a great idea to make a question required in order to create weighted responses or cut your data.

AND THIS HAS BEEN TESTED! Using a number of online surveys, I tested two different types of surveys:

  • 1 – all questions required
  • 2 – no questions required

There were some stark differences.

Those surveys where questions were all required received a lower response rate over time while the survey that was free to answer and skip was answered more. It was also indicated that the former survey was answered wrongly at times due to the participants needing to answer every question.

It’s a fundamental truth often forgotten. The more someone cares about a survey, the more time and effort they will put into completing it.

 

Top-tip #3: Only set required questions when absolutely necessary. The good news is that most people don’t skip questions even if they can.

 

How can you create the most engaging online survey?

I have provided 3 of my proven top-tips when creating an engaging online survey. If I was scripting an online survey at the moment, I wouldn’t create a short, medium or a long survey. I would create a survey where each question would enable the organization to gain valuable insight and actions from it. Or else, why should it be included?

You will hear even more top tips from Alex and Neil in the webinar “Mastering the Survey Experience”. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to watch

 

 


About the Author

Jacob Pryszlak, Research Geek

Jake Pryszlak | Industry Blogger & Speaker | Research Geek

Jake is an influential market research blogger who speaks at conferences worldwide. Through his blog, the Research Geek, he holds a strong social media presence, which has been instrumental in him being recognized as one of the best young market researchers in 2017 as well as one of the most influential market researchers on social media in 2018.

Follow Jake    

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