10 Survey Improvements to Help You See Better Results

Surveys are one of the most accessible and useful ways to gather data about a given audience. Whether you want to find out more about your blog readers, test the product market fit (PMF) of your brand’s latest product, or even test the popularity of a political perspective, a good survey can help you accomplish the job.

The problem is, not all surveys are “good” by default. If your survey doesn’t get a sufficient response rate, if it’s too costly to create, or if it wasn’t designed with the right direction in mind, it’s not going to help you achieve your goals.

Here’s the good news – with even a handful of basic improvements, your survey can become much more valuable.

What Makes a “Good” Survey?

What makes for a good survey?

It’s a bit subjective, but for the most part, survey creators strive for:

  •         High response rates. You need a decent sample size if you want your data to be meaningful. High response rates will increase the reliability of your data.
  •         Reliable data. You also need to gather accurate data in a format that leads you to form actionable conclusions. In other words, the information you get from the survey should be both correct and valuable to your brand.
  •         User convenience. Ideally, the survey will be convenient and easy for your respondents to complete, incentivizing their participation in the future and leading to better consumer relationships.
  •         Time and cost efficiency. You’ll also strive to accomplish all of these things while ensuring your survey remains efficient in terms of both time and money. If you spend too much on your survey, even the best data may not be worth it.

How to Improve Your Survey

These tips can help you create a better survey:

  1.       Use the right tools. First, make sure you’re using the right tools. Good survey creation tools are inexpensive, intuitive, and packed with features to help you improve on your designs (and analyze your results). Try out an assortment of different tools before settling on your primary choice.
  2.       Define your purpose. What is the point of your survey? You’ll need to define this for yourself as well as for your respondents. Defining this for yourself will help you plan the survey to be as focused and efficient as possible. Defining it for your audience can boost response rates and make people feel more confident in your intentions.
  3.       Shorten the survey. Short surveys are almost always more effective than long ones – and for several reasons. Short, concise surveys take less time to put together. They’re more appealing to potential respondents who don’t have much free time. They’re also faster and easier to analyze. Only ask a few questions at a time – and make them the most important questions on your mind.
  4.       Simplify responses. While long-form responses can be valuable, it’s usually more efficient to process data if it’s easily quantifiable. Your respondents will also appreciate simple responses. Reduce questions to multiple choices or numerical scales when possible.
  5.       Keep question formatting consistent. If you’re going to use a scale of 1 to 10 for one question, try to use that formatting for all similar questions that follow. It makes the survey more intuitive and less jarring.
  6.       Order your questions logically. Similarly, you’ll want to organize your survey questions in a logical order. Start out with basic questions, add follow-ups as necessary, and complete your exploration of a single theme before moving onto a different theme.
  7.       Incentivize participation. Most people don’t enjoy taking surveys. They won’t go out of their way to find and complete surveys on their own. If you want them to participate, you’ll need to give them an incentive. That incentive can take many forms, such as discounts, gift cards, free products, or even entries into a drawing.
  8.       Time your survey appropriately. Survey response rates vary based on the day of the week and time of day when you send it. For short surveys in a B2C environment, the best time to send is Tuesday evening – but recommendations change with your audience.
  9.       Always test before sending. Bugs and design flaws can instantly damage your reputation. Make sure you test your survey before sending it to a live audience.
  10.   Follow up. You won’t always get an immediate response when sending your survey to the masses. Follow up with reminder messages (and possibly more incentives) to capture some of the respondents you’d otherwise lose.

The more often you practice survey creation, execution, and analysis, the better you’re going to become. Listen to your customers’ feedback, keep making improvements to your survey strategy, and eventually, your takeaways will lead to substantial progress – however you define that. 


Rylie Holt