Increase the Reliability of Survey Answers: Question Wording

Wording is an important aspect of the survey design process in order to increase the reliability of survey answers

In order to provide a consistent data collection experience for all survey respondents, a good question has to have the following two properties:

  1. The question means the same thing to every respondent.
  2. The kinds of answers that constitute an appropriate response to the question are communicated consistently to all respondents.

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25 Tips to Increase Online Survey Response Rates

Want to increase your survey response rates? Follow this helpful advice.

7K0A0664The success of your survey depends greatly on a good response rate. The higher the response rate, the more representative of the total population. Ideally, a higher than anticipated response rate will bring more assurance and reliability to the survey results. A higher response rate also allows more robust statistical calculations to be performed. In contrast, a response rate that falls short of anticipation may bring into question the dependability of the survey data. Receiving a low response rate from your survey will skew the results due to response bias, as certain types of respondents are more likely to respond to surveys than others, so certain views may triumph.

Want to increase your response rates? Here are 25 tips you can use to increase your survey response rates.

  1. Keep your survey short, covering only the topics you need to satisfy the objectives of your research. Don’t overload the survey with unnecessary questions. Keep the goal of your survey in mind when creating your questions.
  2. Send an email notification notifying participants that they will be receiving your survey, and to be on the lookout for its arrival. Explain how you value their feedback and appreciate their time to complete the survey.
  3. Explain to respondents what the purpose of the research is and how their valuable feedback will be used.
  4. Be considerate of respondents’ time. Let them know how long the survey will take to complete.
  5. Speaking of time, show a progress bar. Respondents want to know how much longer the survey will take.
  6. Use a powerful subject line in the email invitation.
  7. Change the ‘From’ name in the email invitation to an actual person. Allow respondents to respond to that person with questions.
  8. Double check that all links are working correctly in the email invitation.
  9. Send 1 or 2 quick email reminders to those that have not completed the survey.
  10. Optimize your surveys for all devices – from desktop PCs to mobile devices with various screen sizes.
  11. Check on the usability of your survey. Is it easy to access and complete?
  12. Check on the question wording. Is each question easy to comprehend?
  13. Use survey logic such as randomization to show more relevant questions or relevant options within questions.
  14. Use piping logic to feed any answer from a previous question into any subsequent question or text area.
  15. Don’t ask questions that you already have answers to. If you must ask them, take the database of answers from the previously gathered information and set-up a database link to pre-populate the information into the survey questions.
  16. Don’t use random jargon or abbreviations that respondents don’t understand.
  17. Consider using more interactive and engaging question styles like rating scales and sliders.
  18. Provide an open-ended question so respondents can share open comments.
  19. But, don’t ask too many open-ended questions. They take longer to complete.
  20. Check the format and flow of the survey. Does the sequence of questions make sense?
  21. Increase the frequency of your surveys. Survey repetition gets your participants to recognize your brand.
  22. Decrease the number of one-off surveys and focus on surveys that collect data that is inline with your goals. Too many surveys may deter your participants.
  23. Offer an incentive. Incentive examples include a coupon or discount, an entry for a prize drawing, or copies of the final research report.
  24. Brand your survey. Participants want to see that the survey is coming from a reputable brand.
  25. Consider conducting your survey anonymously. Participants appreciate anonymity especially when sensitive data is being transferred.

What else would you add to this list?  Leave a comment below.

Using the Principles of Universal Design for Surveys

Snap Surveys guest blogger Gary Austin of Austin Research explores using the principles of Universal Design for surveys

Gary Austin quote _universal designAn American architect, product designer, and educator named Ron Mace originally coined the term “universal design”. It describes the concept of designing products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible for everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life.

A widespread example of universal design is the dropped kerb (i.e. vehicle access crossings or crossovers). Dropped kerbs were designed for wheelchair users, but are used by all kinds of people including those with shopping trolleys (shopping carts, for you U.S. folks) or kids on bikes or scooters. The original design process focused on a disregarded group of people, but something better was created for everyone. Continue reading

Turn Complaints into Compliments with Automated Email Alerts

Learn how to turn complaints into compliments using Automated Email Alerts in Snap Survey Software

Automated alertsAct fast when participants respond negatively to your online satisfaction survey with Automated Email Alerts. Automated Email Alerts are quick and simple to set-up in Snap Survey Software. They can be triggered by a highly specific answer or a combination of answers, and sent to any valid email address – even the participants own. Email messages can contain pre-written text and survey responses, and include information from your database, for example, a unique ID, name, and contact details. Continue reading

Survey Design Tips from MRXplorer.com

Explore some useful survey design tips from the expert at MRXplorer.com

online-surveys-devices-overlappedAs market researchers or those that are new to the field, we are always looking for much needed tips for better survey design with the ultimate goal of increasing respondent engagement and survey response rates.

Zontziry Johnson of MRXplorer.com, an expert in the field of survey design and market research, uses her blog as a way to discuss the evolution taking place in the market research industry with new technologies, evolving methodologies, and a growing field of DIY researchers. Zontziry recently discussed the fact that writing surveys is a difficult thing to do and has developed a series of blog posts with tips for writing better surveys (below). Take a look at her informative posts. Continue reading

Does Survey Mode Have An Impact On Survey Response Rates?

Does the survey mode you choose have an impact on survey response rates?

survey-respondentsDoes the survey mode you choose to distribute your questionnaire – online survey, mobile survey, paper survey, kiosk survey, or one-on-one interview – have an impact on survey respondents, and ultimately, survey response rates?  How about using a combination of survey modes (i.e. mixed-mode, multiple-mode)? The answer is yes.

It can be very difficult to estimate the level of survey participation as response rates vary depending on a wide variety of factors. For example, survey design, survey length, question wording, and preferred survey mode can all impact response rates.

Let’s focus on survey mode. Your response rates will weigh heavily on your desired audience demographics (age, location, gender, etc.). But, if you take the time to identify these factors, you can take action to improve your response rates by identifying the survey mode(s) that will best reach your audience – giving you more statistically relevant data. Continue reading

The Importance of Calculating Survey Response Rate

Why is calculating survey response rate so important and how is it determined?

calculate-survey-response-ratesThe calculation of Response Rate (RR) is often inconsistent across research studies because each study may use its own definition.  There are so many ways of calculating response rates that comparison across survey research studies can result in confusion and misinterpretations. In order to make practical comparisons across different research studies, it is important to standardize the calculation of response rate.

Consider adopting the calculations as defined by the Standard Definitions: Final Dispositions of Case Codes and of Outcome Rates for Surveys (American Association for Public Opinion Research, Revised 2011) and the various other response calculations, as shown below. Abbreviated terms include: I = Complete survey, P = Partial survey, R = Refusal and break-off, NC = Non-contact, O = Other, UH = Unknown if household/occupied housing unit, UO = Unknown, other, e = Estimated proportion of cases of unknown eligibility that are eligible. Continue reading

The Basics of Composing Proper Survey Questions

When designing surveys, there are basic elements to consider when composing properly designed survey questions

survey-designAs you begin to plan and develop your survey, you must first determine what information you want to collect, which then guides you through choosing which questions to ask, how to ask them, and of whom. Be precise. you should be creating questions that are as precise as possible.  Precision questions have the highest degree of accuracy as a result of the participants’ ability to recall events with ease. When asking questions about events, activities, and behaviors, the following components contribute to improving the precision of your survey questions.  Continue reading

Poorly Designed Ranking Questions Can Cause Poor Results

A poorly designed and overloaded ranking question can yield poor results. Consider some revisions.

survey-ranking-questionWe’ve all completed our fair share of surveys. Many contain clear and direct questions that get straight to the point and allow you to flow through the survey easily. However, there is the occasional survey that tends to drag on with elaborately designed questions.

Snap Surveys guest blogger, Gary Austin of Austin Research discusses his reasons and opinions as to why it is not a good idea to include a long list of attributes in a ranking question in his recent blog post, Rank bad questions: How not to ask ranking  questions (below). Continue reading

Writing for the Small Screen? The Importance of Minimizing Question Length

Survey design can be a challenge when designing questionnaires for small screen sizes

Consider the following open-ended question:

Other than cost or price, if there was one thing that Organization X could do to help you and your business in the future, what would that be?

There isn’t too much wrong with the wording. It’s clear and easily understood. However, there is one thing that can be done to improve it. The question can be made shorter. For example:

Apart from changing prices, what one thing could Organization X do better?

adaptive-questionnairesThe revised wording is considerably shorter but the meaning has been retained. The responses you’d get are unlikely to differ greatly from the original question.

Across all survey methods, from face-to-face to online, shorter questions have always been better. Respondents don’t want to have to read or listen to long lines of text. Shorter questions make surveys feel faster in pace. Respondents feel more involved and provide a better quality of response.  Continue reading