How To Improve A Survey: 3 Simple Tips

Philip Cleave
December 16, 2022
Woman checking out some resources to help improve her next survey

The amazing thing about surveys is that there’s always something new to learn and even more so when you’re just starting out. As a survey newcomer, besides the data you collect, you’ll be trying to figure out lots of different ways to better meet your goals.

From what you write and the questions you use, to how you distribute and analyze your surveys. There’s lots of different things you can experiment with to improve your surveys.

The key to this is to explore and learn from as many resources as you can including any tips you can find outlined in blogs. The more you read, the better your surveys will be.

Here’s three things you can start looking at now to help improve your next survey.

How to improve the quality of survey results

From poorly worded questions and data collection issues to sampling problems and researcher bias. There’s lots of things that can potentially affect the quality of your survey results.

One of the most difficult issues is getting the right respondents for your survey, as a lot of the time you won’t want to know what everyone thinks and be more likely to want to know what a particular group thinks instead.

However, if you can select the right respondents for your survey from the start, you’ll put yourself on the best pathway to obtaining the feedback you need. And the best way to achieve that is through screening questions.

Placing these types of questions at the beginning of your survey can help you to determine, which respondents are best qualified to complete your survey and which are irrelevant and need disqualifying.

Let’s say you ran a kennels and cattery business and wanted to raise awareness of your services to local dog and cat owners, you could start your survey with the following screener question.

What type of pet do you own?

Depending on the answers they select, you could then use skip logic to route dog and cat owners through your survey and disqualify anyone selecting any of the other categories from participating.

For more advice on using screening questions, you might like to visit our Top Tips for Using Screening Questions in your Survey blog.

How to improve survey questions

While it’s important to have the right people taking your survey, it’s also vital to ask the right questions.

If your previous survey didn’t tell you everything you needed to know, or you felt that you missed an opportunity to delve deeper into your respondent’s thoughts, you might want to take another look at the survey questions you asked.

For example, if all the questions you included in your previous survey were closed questions, your data may have been easy to analyze, but lacked any real depth in terms of the reasons behind each respondent’s answers. In this instance you would have been better off including a few open-ended questions.

In contrast, where closed questions restrict you to choosing your answer from a selection of answer options, open ended questions let you answer in your own words. This offers the advantage of providing a real insight about how they think and feel about different things, but they can be a bit more challenging to analyze.

Fortunately, there are ways to improve the analysis of these types of questions and spot any significant trends in what people are saying. You can achieve this with tools such as text analysis and word clouds.

To find out more about this and how they work you might like to read our ‘How to Analyze Open Ended Questions’ blog.

How to improve survey response rates

From web surveys and phone surveys, to email, SMS, offline surveys and more. When it comes to administering your survey, the more distribution options you have the better.

Not only will most people have different preferences about where they would like to access and complete your survey from, the more distribution options you can use the greater your surveys reach and the better your response rate is likely to be.

One of the more recent and innovative options to emerge is the QR code (scannable images that link to a website), which is a technology that most consumers are now comfortable with.

Not only are QR codes visual and engaging, but they are a crucial tool if you want to promote your survey on non-digital channels. A QR code link to your survey can be easily added to printed flyers, posters, presentation slides, mail campaigns and more. They are also simple for respondents with a smartphone or tablet to use, as they simply scan the QR code with their inbuilt camera and away they go.

The growing use of QR codes on product packaging, brochures and marketing material has led to them becoming really popular among those involved in the events industry. However, given their versatility, the market audience for survey QR codes is much wider, as they can be used to engage a broader range of customers and other audiences including employees, students and more. They’ve even been said to appeal to those who are more protective of their privacy, preferring to use QR codes than having to share their email address.

So, when it comes to improving your survey response rates, QR codes are a good distribution method to add to your list of options. But if you’re to best meet your respondents survey distribution preferences, it’s best to ask them direct.

Persistence is the key to improving your surveys

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this piece and find the tips we’ve outlined helpful to your survey activities.

However, as with anything in life, what you will get out of your surveys moving forward will depend on what you put into them.

There’s lots more resources on surveys out there and always something fresh to learn, so you need to read and absorb as much as you can. Ultimately, how much you’re able to improve your surveys, will depend on your level of perseverance with this.

Start creating better surveys today

There are lots of resources you can read and different approaches you can try to improve your surveys, but you still need to have the right survey tools, if you’re to get the greatest value from your survey activities.

Find out more

Get started and create your first survey

If you would like more information then please get in touch.