Top 10 Components of Successful Surveys

Are you an entrepreneur, small business owner or solo professional who wants to know what your customers and prospects are thinking? It’s really simple to find out: just ask them! The answers you are seeking can easily be found by conducting a simple survey.

Here are 10 things you need to do to make your survey a success:

1. To begin, get very clear on the issue you want to address. What exactly is the purpose of your survey? What do you want to learn? The clearer you are before you begin the process, the more valuable the answers will be for you.

For example, are you trying to get the Zone views, access their knowledge, or determine their needs?

Do you want to learn their attitudes or weaknesses? Perhaps you’re looking for feedback on a new product or want to determine their level of satisfaction with your services.

Maybe you want to launch a new product and want to make certain there is a need for it.

Ask the right questions and you’ll get all the information you need.

2. Consider using an online survey creator such as Survey Monkey. ( http://www.surveymonkey.com ) You can have up to 100 participants without paying a fee,and you can design your survey any way you like, e.g., multiple choice, rating scales, drop-down menus,etc.

3. Include “other (please specify)” in your multiple-choice options to ensure you get all the information possible. In spite of all the time and thought that you put into creating your questions, there will always be room for other answers than the possibilities you considered. Make sure you allow people every opportunity to tell you what they’re thinking.

4. Limit the number of questions you ask to 10 or less. Anything more than that and people become overwhelmed. They don’t mind helping you out, but they do want to do it quickly.

5. Entice people to participate in the survey by offering something of perceived value in return for their participation. In my last survey, those who answered all the questions were entitled to enter a draw for a Starbucks gift card. Needless to say, I got an overwhelming response.

Your offering need not cost you anything. A special report, a template you created, or an article on something in your area of expertise might do just as well.

6. Create a sense of urgency by having a deadline. Without a time frame, people will put off responding and forget about your survey. Try something like this, “The draw will take place on August 1st and the survey is only open to the first 100 people who respond, so you’ll want to hurry on this.”

7. Send a special mailing to your list as well as including information about the survey in your newsletter. You really want to get as many people participating as possible so be sure to use a compelling subject line in you e-mail notification that lets people know you want their help and that you’re not trying to sell them anything.

8. Make sure each question must be answered before participants can go ahead to the next question. Survey Monkey allows you to set your questionnaire in this manner and I’m sure other survey creators do too.

9. Include at least one question that participants must answer in their own words. Ask this question in a way that will allow you to learn what is missing for them. For example, “what is your single biggest challenge when it come to gardening, public speaking, financial planning, etc.?” The answers you get will give you lots of ideas about product creation, marketing strategies, potential new services and so much more.

10. Analyze the data. Pay close attention to the answers you receive-particularly on the open-ended questions-so that you understand the respondents’ personal concerns and what is missing for them. Don’t be surprised if you uncover valuable information you have not previously considered.

Bottom Line: Whatever questions you want answered, the knowledge you glean from a survey can move you and your business light-years ahead.

Copyright 2007 Leni Chauvin