By edwaardnick . Posted on October 30, 2023

Publishing and sending out a survey can help you better understand your audience and deliver tailored products and services. The challenge is creating an engaging survey that captures what your audience truly thinks. 

The only way you can achieve this goal is by crafting compelling survey questions. Luckily, this process isn’t difficult with a few tips and tricks.

In this guide, we’ll share a few tried-and-true strategies for creating captivating online survey questions that drive great response rates. 

The Impact of Weak Questions on Surveys and Polls

Great survey questions can provide insights into your audience’s viewpoints, perspectives, and thought processes. 

On the flip side, bad survey questions are counterproductive to these outcomes. Depending on the importance of an online survey, your questions can have tremendous weight on its success. 

For example, medical providers and telehealth brands like Henry Meds rely on surveys to understand their patient’s medical history to provide a proper treatment plan.  

Without using the proper survey questions to collect accurate information from their potential patients, it could be detrimental to their telehealth business model. That’s why they prioritize it as the very first step in the treatment plan (before chatting with a physician or nurse practitioner). 

Surveys give all organizations (regardless of industry) a clear picture of the effectiveness of their products, services, website experience, and customer service. If brands gave out confusing surveys to their audience, the following events would likely happen:

  • Survey takers get confused and provide inaccurate or indifferent answers. 
  • The survey would provide no real value.
  • Brands wouldn’t have the data necessary to refine their operations.

Whether you operate in a highly regulated industry such as healthcare or any other, delivering clear and engaging surveys is essential. 

How to Create the Best Survey Questions

Now that you know the importance of writing great survey questions, let’s explore some proven strategies to help you craft the best questions for your next customer survey. 

Understand Your Audience 

Imagine you’re a company like SoFi, a financial services company specializing in student loan refinancing

If you were to throw a one-size-fits-all survey at your audience, you might miss the mark entirely. Think of it like fishing in the ocean with an empty hook — you’re not likely to catch what you aim for. 

Understanding your potential market and current users’ experiences is the recipe for success in the business world. So, use the answers to your survey questions to fuel and refine future survey questions.

Here’s what we mean. When drafting your survey questions, consider the following:

  • Demographics matter: Always have a clear understanding of who your respondents are. Are they current students, recent grads, or‌ professionals five years into their careers?
  • Solve their puzzles: What are the main pain points of your audience? If you’re talking to recent graduates, their biggest concern is monthly repayments or the interest rate. Frame your questions to dig deeper into these areas.
  • Engage, don’t interrogate: Make your questions conversational. Instead of asking, “Do you find it hard to repay your student loan?” Try, “How do you feel about your monthly student loan payments?”
  • Use open instead of closed questions: While closed questions (yes/no) can be easier to analyze, open-ended questions can provide valuable insights you might not have considered. But striking a balance is key (more on that later).
  • Avoid leading questions: Keeping it neutral will help generate real answers that aren’t steered in a certain direction. 

When you deeply understand your audience and craft your survey questions with them in mind, you’re setting yourself up for genuine insights that can drive your business forward. 

So, the next time you sit down to draft a survey, remember to wear your audience’s shoes.

Leverage Innovative Analysis

When it comes to crafting compelling survey questions, the goal is to collect valuable data that drives meaningful insights. However, the volume of responses and data points can often feel overwhelming. 

That’s where innovative analysis tools come into play. These tools allow you to extract actionable insights that inform strategic decisions and refine your approach. 

Crafting survey questions that resonate with your audience is essential, but equally crucial is the ability to make sense of all that collected data. Think of it like trying to decipher a code without the key.

Among other advanced analytics solutions, Redbird streamlines ‌survey research analysis, helping you dive deep into survey data and uncover patterns and trends that might have otherwise remained hidden.

And here’s the best part. There’s no coding required, and you can improve efficiency by up to 90%. What’s not to love? 

Only Collect Data That’s Pertinent to Your Service Offerings

Every question in your survey should serve a purpose. This not only maximizes the value of each response but also respects the time of your respondents.

When it comes to local businesses, crafting specific survey questions can play a crucial role in understanding the preferences of recurring or potential customers and improving their experience so that you don’t lose them to competitors in the same area.

Let’s dive into this principle with an example. 

For instance, if you are conducting a customer satisfaction survey for a local Fort Lauderdale florist, one of your primary goals might be to find out the best times to send promotions to your customers. 

In this scenario, you might ask questions like:

  • “When do you typically purchase flowers?”
  • “Would you be interested in receiving weekly promotions for flower deals?” 

These questions are directly related to your goal.

Then, you can use that information to offer tailored promos to your customers based on preference or seasonality.

On the contrary, asking, “What shaped vase is your favorite for rose bouquets?” might not serve a clear purpose related to this survey. 

While it could be interesting data, it isn’t directly relevant to the objective of your flower shop promotions. Such questions can make your survey unnecessarily long and might even confuse or frustrate respondents.

So, stick to what’s important:

  • Be clear on your objectives
  • Prioritize question relevance
  • Avoid overloading the survey

Add Interactive Features to Motivate Respondents

Crafting compelling survey questions is an art that goes beyond mere wording — it’s about making respondents feel motivated to respond, ultimately yielding your desired results.

Why? Human attention spans are shorter than ever, and traditional surveys with long lists of questions can quickly become monotonous for respondents. 

However, by integrating interactive features into your surveys, you can capture and sustain the interest of participants, ensuring not just completion but also more thoughtful and genuine responses.

Termly, known for its comprehensive terms and conditions generator and other compliance tools, has introduced a digital compliance quiz. This quiz is designed to help businesses navigate complex regulations like GDPR, CCPA, and the ePrivacy Directive. 

The brilliance of this survey is found in two key areas:

  • It only takes respondents 45 seconds to complete (addresses the short attention span)
  • It incorporates interactive features to make it more interesting (addresses the motivation)

This approach not only guarantees survey success but also offers a valuable solution to end-users, creating a win-win scenario for all parties involved.

Are you looking for ways to mimic Termly’s successful quiz format? Here are some more creative ideas for crafting unique survey questions: 

  • Sliders over radio buttons: Instead of asking respondents to rate something on a scale of 1–10 with radio buttons, use a slider. It’s visually engaging and allows respondents to fine-tune their answers more intuitively.
  • Interactive imagery: If you’re looking to gather feedback on a new product web design or advertisement, integrate images or videos within the survey. These features can help respondents form a more accurate opinion rather than relying on textual descriptions alone.
  • Drag and drop: For questions that require ranking or sorting, use the drag-and-drop functionality. It’s a fun and interactive way for participants to order their preferences or priorities.
  • Gamified surveys: Turn your survey into a mini-game. Award points for the completion of sections, integrate quizzes or test out a few trivia options. 
  • Progress bars: Displaying a progress bar lets participants know how much of the survey they’ve completed and how much is left. This simple feature can motivate them to finish, knowing that the end is in sight.

Use a Balance of Open and Close-Ended Questions

​​Crafting a successful survey requires a delicate balance — especially with the mix of open and close-ended questions

Both types of questions offer unique advantages, and when used effectively together, they can provide a comprehensive view of your respondents’ perspectives.

Let’s break down the benefits of each and how to strike the right balance:

Close-ended questions

  • It’s easy for respondents to answer and quick for surveyors to analyze.
  • It’s ideal for gathering quantitative data and standardized responses.
  • Examples include multiple-choice questions, rating scales, and yes/no questions.

Open-Ended Questions

  • Allow respondents to answer in their own words.
  • It’s ideal for gathering qualitative data and uncovering surprising insights.
  • Examples include feedback boxes, opinion essays, and descriptive responses.

Here’s how to strike the perfect balance: 

  1. Begin your survey with a few close-ended questions. They’re easy to answer and can help ease respondents into the survey.
  2. Sprinkle in open-ended questions, especially when you seek deeper insights or when the topic requires nuance.
  3. Conclude your survey with an open-ended question for additional comments or feedback. That way, you leave a space for respondents to share anything not covered in the survey.
    Screenshot by Brandon Lee

A well-balanced survey taps into the strengths of both question types. While close-ended questions give you structured data and broad trends, open-ended questions provide context, depth, and the “why” behind those trends. 

Together, they offer a holistic view of your audience’s thoughts and preferences, setting the foundation for informed decision-making.

Always Ask Neutral Questions

Asking a leading question can damage the performance of your survey. 

Why? This type of question suggests you want someone to answer your way. 

Surprisingly, you can find leading questions in quite a few customer surveys. For example: 

  • “We think we provide amazing customer service. What do you think?”
  • “We take pride in delivering outstanding customer service. How was your experience?”

Both questions can imply that you’re trying to sway your audience into giving a certain answer. With that said, a more appropriate question is:

  • “Could you rank our customer service on a scale of 1-10?”

Creating neutral questions will direct your audience to provide more honest answers to your surveys. So, if you’re providing multiple-choice questions, make sure that your answers are both varied and balanced. Otherwise, you ‌risk the credibility of the responses you receive. 

For example, let’s say you’re conducting a survey to determine how helpful your customer service representatives are. Here’s how a biased set of answers would look:

  • Extremely helpful
  • Very helpful
  • Helpful

You should notice that these questions don’t give your audience any chance to declare that your reps were “unhelpful” (read: poor customer service). 

Thus, a more balanced set of answers would read:

  • Extremely helpful
  • Very helpful
  • Helpful
  • Neutral
  • Unhelpful
  • Very unhelpful
  • Extremely unhelpful

Here’s a great survey question example from Delta:

Screenshot by Brandon Lee

Don’t Ask Two Questions at Once

Confusing questions are just as bad as biased questions. Both types of survey questions won’t reflect the true preferences and opinions of your audience.

Some surveys ask double-barreled questions. An example of this can be found in rating scale questions, such as: 

“How would you rate our customer service and email newsletter?”

Customer service and an email newsletter are two different things. If you feel the need to rate two different things, simply ask two separate questions. 

Final Words

Asking proper questions keeps surveys unbiased and honest. The more unbiased your survey is, the better results and response rates you’ll achieve with both sensitive questions and demographic questions. 

Start implementing some of the tips we covered today, and you’ll be well on your way to writing clear and focused questions to generate successful surveys for your brand.

Here’s to your success! And if you need help along the way, Poll the People can help you generate 10X more effective surveys (without any heavy lifting from you).

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