The purpose of surveys is to get answers to important questions. For the most part, they’re used to find out what people think about a subject and why they feel that way about it.
Surveys can come in many forms, depending on what you’re hoping to achieve by collecting data. But all surveys should have a goal or objective; a reason you’re collecting the data. Or more specifically, the problem you’re trying to solve with the data you collect.
Your questions should be written to help you reach your goal, each collecting an answer that helps you solve a puzzle you find yourself faced with.
They’re an extremely important business tool, as they not only allow you to identify your strengths and weaknesses but also to build strong relationships with your audience.
What is a survey?
A survey is a method of collecting information from an audience with the aim of learning more about them. What you learn can be used to make better business decisions or inform research.
The application of surveys is wide and can include; consumer behavior, market research, and political opinion.
What’s the purpose of surveys?
Whilst each survey has its own goal, the purpose of surveys is to help you develop an understanding of your audience with the aim of informing decision-making.
- Market researchers use surveys to collect data on consumer behavior, product preferences, and industry trends to make better business decisions.
- Public opinion pollsters use surveys to gather information on political opinions, voting patterns, and public attitudes.
- Academics can use surveys to collect data that is vital to their research.
When creating a survey, you should ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve. This will be the goal of your survey.
Then, each of your survey questions should be tailored to help you meet that goal. This has two major benefits, firstly you’re only collecting the data you need, and secondly, your survey is concise (which is good for respondents).
In some cases, surveys will have set questions that need to be asked to achieve that goal, e.g. Net Promoter Score.
What are the different types of surveys?
Survey research can take a variety of forms, based on what you’re trying to achieve. Here are a few examples of the different types of surveys:
- Academic research
- Market research
- Customer satisfaction
- Product feedback
- Concept testing
- Website feedback
- Event feedback
- Employee satisfaction
- 360-degree feedback
There a are a few ways you can conduct surveys and get the feedback you need:
- Online surveys
- Telephone surveys
- Face-to-face interviews
- Paper questionnaires
The method that gives you access to the largest audience is online surveys, which can easily be created, customized, and shared with respondents.
When to conduct a survey
Surveys can be conducted at any time and for almost any purpose. The true skill is identifying when they’ll be most effective.
You certainly don’t want to blitz your audience with surveys, this will lead to survey fatigue.
It’s up to you to identify an area where feedback will help you improve.
For example, maybe you have a high number of abandoned carts in your online store. This is an excellent opportunity to find out why people aren’t making a purchase.
Why should you conduct a survey?
There are many benefits to conducting surveys beyond the fact that they can provide reliable data from large audiences. But, what are the other benefits of conducting surveys and the ways they can improve your businesses and relationships?
Let’s get into that below.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses
Collecting feedback from respondents is the easiest way to find out what you’re doing well and what areas need improvement.
It’s a misconception that surveys should only be used when something is going wrong. Whilst they can help you identify the weaknesses of your business, you’re only getting half the information when you do this.
You should also conduct surveys when things are going well to identify what customers love about you. That way, you can keep doing it and feel motivated that you’re doing something right.
Develop an understanding of your audience
Surveys are the perfect tools for learning more about your audience, whether they’re your employees, customers, or subscribers.
You can ask demographic questions (e.g. Age, Gender, Income) and psychographic questions (establishing likes and dislikes) to build customer profiles and improve your marketing strategies.
Get feedback on your products or services
If you offer a product or service, it’s essential to collect feedback to measure customer attitudes. For example, you can ask whether your product is good value for money and why.
The beauty of surveys is that you can ask closed-ended questions (e.g. multiple-choice questions) to collect statistical data (which is more easily measured) and then follow up with an open-ended question for a personalized response on what respondents chose an answer.
Keep in mind that it’s impossible to please everyone, so it’s not very likely that you’ll get positive feedback. The point is to identify trends in both the positive and negative survey results and take action where you can.
Give your audience a voice
The purpose of surveys is not just to get answers, they’re also an important relationship building tool. At the end of the day, people want to be heard. To know that their opinion and their needs matter to someone else.
Whether you’re asking customers what they think about your product or employees if they’re happy in their role, just asking can go a long way in showing you care.
Doing so makes people feel they’re an important part of something, which creates stronger relationships and builds trust.
A commercial benefit of surveys is that they enable you to boost aspects of your performance. This could be as simple as finding out what people love about your product and converting that into marketing copy for your website.
There are other ways they can increase your return on investment (ROI). For example, if you’ve been running an email drip campaign but you find that your open rate is dropping down the chain, run a survey to find out why your subscribers stop reading.
Of course, the solution to your problem won’t be handed to you on a silver platter. You will need to dig into your survey data to find out what’s causing issues and apply these findings when enacting changes.
Encourage honest feedback
Surveys are a chance to collect unbiased and open feedback from people who matter to you. Respondents are more likely to be honest where their feedback is anonymous, in an environment where they won’t feel judged.
This is where online surveys and paper questionnaires can be more effective than face-to-face interviews or live panel discussions.
Inform decision making
Rather than making assumptions about why something happens, you can go straight to the source and identify the why of it all.
They give you an objective data set that you can use to identify the cause of issues or frictions that your audience may experience.
Once you’ve done this, you can make informed decisions to address those problems.
Measure change over time
Individual surveys give you a picture of what life is like for your audience at that moment, and that’s great. But to continue succeeding you should be conducting surveys at regular intervals to measure how effective your changes are.
In doing so, your relationships with your audience become a living breathing thing, with ups and downs as time passes. This sort of overview is what will set you apart from the competition.
A bird’s eye view of your relationships gives you more information than any single survey could.
Now we’ve covered the purpose of surveys, we’re sure we’ve convinced you that they could be an invaluable asset for your business or research. But knowing this isn’t enough to collect high-quality data.
You also need to consider how your survey design can impact your research goals. And above all, remember your respondents are people too, treating them as such will go a long way in getting useful feedback.
With Shout, you can achieve all of the above quickly and easily. Whether you want to collect anonymous feedback or track responses to get a view of their individual opinion of you over time, we have it all.