How to Write an Effective Survey

How to Write and Effective SurveyA survey can be a powerful tool to generate feedback from your membership, and the Memberize Survey Manager offers an easy way to create online surveys and analyze the data they generate, either in the graphical format as the results are presented or as a spreadsheet download.  Please refer to the Memberize Help documentation if you have any problems configuring and creating your survey.

The data generated from your survey will obviously depend on the questions asked; this article will outline some brief guidelines on effective survey writing.

The first step is to think about what kind of information you need the survey to deliver to your organization.  Start with what it is you would like know about potential respondents and create your questions accordingly.  As you compose each question try to envision how the data formed from the responses is going to be analyzed, this is also an important consideration when selecting the type of question you want to ask (i.e. multiple choice, matrix, etc.).

Avoid open-ended questions.  If at all possible use a multiple-choice format, although it can be a good idea to allow for an open-ended “additional comments” question this should probably be the last question on your survey.  Allowing respondents to enter their own comments will enhance the satisfaction they get from responding to your survey, but keep in mind that a large volume of open-ended responses may be difficult to make sense of.

Consider allowing anonymous responses, you may not get the most accurate data if respondents know they can be identified.

You should structure your survey so that the more difficult questions come last.  Start with general questions with easy answers to engage the respondents gradually.

Keep the survey brief, the fewer questions you have the more likely the respondent will complete the survey attentively.  Anything that takes longer than 4 or 5 minutes to complete is probably too long for most target audiences.

Inform potential respondents of the survey length at the outset.  The total number of questions contained in your survey will not be apparent to the respondent as they begin, so let them know how many questions there are in your Survey Introduction.

At the same time you should also try to make it apparent to your respondents what the purpose or nature of the survey is.  This will be readily apparent if the survey is associated with an event, but if you publish surveys elsewhere, especially through a newsletter, you should include a short explanation in your Survey Introduction.

Use the Matrix format!  You can turn several questions into one by using this question type.  If you want to know how your members rate one of your events in several different categories (venue, catering, etc.) make each of these categories a response in a single Matrix question.

Avoid double negatives, these can confuse respondents and generate inaccurate data.

Make sure you test your survey before you “go live!”  You can take the survey yourself as many times as you like by using the “delete respondent” link (in effect erasing your survey response data so you can create another one).

Always remember to thank respondents for taking part in your survey.

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