One Question Surveys

Philip Cleave
October 12, 2021

Whatever survey you create, you’ll want to achieve as high a survey response rate as you can, as this will increase the reliability of your data and what you’re able achieve with it as a result.

So, however you’ve distributed your survey, whether by email or SMS, web page embed or app, you’ll want your survey to be as quick and simple as it can be for recipients, so as many of them as possible complete it.

The one question – or single question survey as it’s otherwise known – is an effective way of achieving this. And even more so, if it’s visually appealing and its simple to understand how to answer it, as with the example below.

How satisfied were you with your trip with SmartFlight today?

A one question survey can also help if you’re struggling to think of what questions to ask in a survey, by forcing you to really focus on what’s the most important thing you need to find out.

Types of single question survey

When it comes to surveys, there are some survey types that are more suited to the one question format than others. So, it’s good to have these in mind when you’re thinking about where you can make the best use of a single question survey.

Some survey types to consider…

Employee Pulse surveys

Compared to other survey types, pulse surveys are ideal for the single question format, as they are typically distributed more frequently to quickly check in on changing attitudes and sentiment.

For example, following the Covid 19 outbreak and the increased number of employees working from home, pulse surveys have been frequently used to check how well staff have been coping and identify any that need extra support.

Consumer Pulse surveys

Similarly, one question pulse surveys can be useful to measure shifting attitudes and sentiment among your customer base over time.

For example, if you were a clothes retailer you might want to regularly check in with your customers about their changing shopping habits, so you can make any necessary adjustments to your supply chain. To get this information, you might ask them if they’ve been shopping more online or instore over the past couple of months.

Exit surveys

For most people, when we refer to exit surveys, the employee exit interview survey is the first thing that springs to mind. However, there are other exit survey types and the website exit survey is a good example of one that typically uses the single format question survey.

Think about the last time you visited a website and either tried to find or purchase something. It’s likely that as you tried to leave a particular web page, you were presented with a one question pop-up survey, trying to find out a bit more about why you were leaving so soon.

You could be asked to click any number of reasons, from ‘I couldn’t find what I was looking for’ and ‘I need more time to think’ to ‘I struggled with your payment cart’ or ‘the item was too expensive’ and more.

Whatever answers site visitors give, the ongoing results can give website owners a clearer idea about what they need to change or improve.


Looking at other web survey types, poll surveys are another example where feedback and opinion need to be gathered quickly, which again makes them ideally suited to the one question format survey.

For instance, think about the online polls that are frequently carried out in the run up to a general election. One question survey polls like this are an ideal way of gaging voters’ changing preferences about which political party they will vote for as the election draws closer.

One-question-at-a-time surveys

Okay, while these are not strictly single question surveys, one-question-at-a-time surveys are worth mentioning as the way they are structured can help boost response rates.

As only a single question is ever presented on the user’s screen, as they are progressing through a survey, it avoids overwhelming participants. And as it’s also much more amenable to smaller screens, particularly mobile devices, it helps deliver a better experience and encourages more respondents to complete a survey.

Advantages of single question surveys

If you’re still undecided about whether to use one question surveys, here’s some beneficial reasons to consider them.

They’re much easier to embed in emails or web pages:

By their very nature single question surveys take up much less space than longer ones, making them easier to embed in emails and web pages, so you can get your surveys out much faster.

Quick to complete:

From the recipient’s point of view the convenience of one question surveys makes them much faster to complete than longer surveys.

More likely to receive higher response rates:

With the length and layout of single question surveys making them more attractive to recipients, you more likely to receive better response rates with this survey type too.

Quicker to collate and report on results:

The fact that you only have to one question to manage, means that single question surveys are also much faster to collect, analyze and report on. This allows you to complete any follow up actions from your survey much faster as a result.

Disadvantages of one question surveys

As with any approach there are always some downsides, as well as upsides that you need to think about. So, it’s wise to become informed about these before deciding whether to use single question surveys.

Limited insight available:

It stands to reason that if you’re running a single question survey, you won’t be able to gather as much insight as a multi-question survey. However, if you’re running one question surveys, alongside larger but more infrequent surveys, as part of an overall program of activity it’s not going to be a major issue, as two surveys will complement one another.

For example, running regularly employee pulse surveys alongside a yearly employee engagement survey, would allow you to identify any changing opinions or sentiment and take any necessary actions to maintain staff welfare.

Greater care needed when structuring the question:

Ultimately too the insight you’re able to gain from a single question survey, will only be as good as the question you’re asking. So, it pays to take your time when thinking about the question you want to ask, so you will maximize your chances of getting the insight you need.

Why every organization should consider one question surveys

Having discussed their advantages and some scenarios where they offer the best fit in terms of survey type, I hope you will recognize the value of using single question surveys.

More than anything they demonstrate just how important it is to collect regular feedback in order to better manage changing sentiment. From running ongoing employee engagement activities, to a comprehensive customer experience program over the lifecycle of a customers’ journey with you.

Whatever activity it is, by adding the one question survey into your arsenal, it will help you to achieve a more balanced and holistic program of survey activity. Ultimately, enhancing the quality of insight you’re able to collect.

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