Online Surveys: 10 Most Common Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

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Online surveys can be a very powerful tool, however only when used correctly. Setting up such a questionnaire seems like an easy task, especially with the help of a good online survey tool. Despite that, many mistakes are being made every day, resulting in lower efficiency of the surveys and a lot of time wasted.

The use of online surveys is versatile. Whether they help students with their theses, HR teams with employee happiness, in marketing research, customer feedback or online registration, it’d be a shame to waste the opportunity and make a rookie mistake when using such a useful tool. To help avoid that, let’s take a look at the most common mistakes made in setting up an online questionnaire, and how to remedy them.

The Most Common Mistakes

#1 Skipping The Introduction

As much as it might seem like an excessive part of the questionnaire, introducing your survey properly is a must. Without it, your respondents may not find any purpose in filling it out and might even feel suspicious or uncomfortable doing so. Explaining what the survey’s goal is, how long it will take and what the answers will be used for, will lift your audience’s engagement as well as your response rate.

#2 Lack Of Motivation

If you ask your respondents for a favor, offering nothing as a reward for their time, those outside of your circle of friends will most likely not bother filling anything out. Instead of just leaving the respondents stuck on the thank you page, hoping they feel great about their goodwill, offer them something exciting and motivating in exchange! Perhaps a little discount for their next purchase with you, involve them in a competition or offer the first few of them some other cool prize.

#3 Wrong Selection Of Target Audiences

As tempting as it might be to get an infinite number of responses, sending your survey to literally everyone might end up being counterproductive. Sending an irrelevant survey to someone will only confuse and obtrude them and cause a lower response rate. It is crucial to hit a specific audience. Try to find segments of relevant respondents who can relate to the topic and feel connected. E.g. only those customers who actually made a purchase in your e-shop should evaluate their buyer’s experience and only those, who didn’t buy anything should be asked why.

#4 Wrong Selection Of Question Type

Confusing a multiple choice question with a single choice one or putting a star rating where you really need a text answer. All this could lead to your respondents’ confusion and frustration, resulting in them not finishing your survey. Make sure you understand what kind of data each question type collects and don’t be afraid to do a test run with your colleagues or friends first.

#5 Unreadable, Unclear, Vague, Or Incomprehensible Questions

As soon as you make your respondent clueless about what the object of the question really is, they’ll leave. Avoid questions that are not specific enough, using too many unfamiliar terms, ambiguousness or words of different interpretation e.g. sometimes, occasionally, etc. Even mixing up two questions into one sentence will give you unclear answers. Go as simple as possible. And always double-check everything, even your grammar.

#6 Manipulative Questions

The idea of getting your desired responses sounds fantastic but then – why exactly are you doing the survey in the first place? Asking your respondents questions that are only offering the answers you want to receive is pointless. Don’t be afraid of their real replies and opinions, that’s what makes the research valuable.

#7 Questions Are Too Personal Or Unnecessary

Respect your respondents’ privacy and don’t go too deep. People don’t like being asked about things that are generally considered private and will likely not answer them. Especially if those are excessive and make no point in the questionnaire. Always consider what’s reasonable to ask and what makes sense for your context. Imagine yourself as the respondent first.

#8 Wrong Setting Of Options

If there isn’t enough possible answer options or vice versa, too many choices, the respondent is unable to answer properly. Also, if the questionnaire contains too many open-ended questions, the respondents get tired of it taking too long and might abandon your survey before finishing it. Pay attention to what’s necessary to include in the choices, whether it really includes all it should and is varied enough.

#9 The Questionnaire Has Too Many Questions

There’s one thing we can always be sure of – our respondents don’t want to waste half of their day answering your survey. Make sure it’s as concise as possible by getting rid of questions that aren’t essential, or by dividing a long survey into a few shorter ones. Use skip logic to only ask your respondents relevant questions.

#10 Not Getting Help When You Need It

Nowadays, there are many smart tools and online platforms that will help you build your survey from scratch as well as analyze the results effectively. Moreover, softwares like Survio offer lots of helpful features like free survey templates that will save your time and help you when you lack creativity, an automated delivery system with reminders that reach out to those who haven’t filled out the survey yet, or well-arranged, presentation-ready reports. It is all right there at your fingertips!



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