Fun fact: I completed both an undergrad and Masters degree, and then went on to not use even an ounce of what I learned in either when running my own business.

That is, with 1 small exception.

I had taken a class in my Masters called Survey Design & Evaluation which came in handy when I went to design my recent reader survey.

(Glad those degrees *ahem – massively expensive pieces of paper* finally came in handy .)

So I’ve packaged up my knowledge and placed it here for you to use when you’re ready to also give out a survey of your own!

Here’s 4 things to consider when surveying your audience:

1. It is a-okay to offer an incentive, if you do it right

We all like to have a little carrot (who am I joking – I mean chocolate!) dangled in front of us to get us to take action. So it’s perfectly fine to incentivize your audience to complete your survey with the opportunity for a perk or winning something.

But this is often where a mistake is made.

‘I’ll offer a $50 gift card to Amazon!’

‘Well then, free Amazon gift card, sign me up, I’ll complete your survey!’ says the people of internet.

If you’re running a survey to figure out what product/service to launch next, you want responses from people who are interested in you, what you do, and your services/products, not just anyone who likes to buy stuff on Amazon.

The responses from people who are really interested in you, your business and your offerings and the responses from people who vaguely know you but are down for an Amazon gift card are quite different.

In order to only get responses from those who are most likely to buy from you, make the incentive related to something you offer in your business.

If you’ll be using the feedback to launch a new service/product, make the incentive to complete the survey a percentage off that thing when it launches.

You will absolutely get less responses this way, but that is A-OKAY!

In fact, it’s going to get your better results that will really help you learn about what your potential buyers want and need help with.

2. Don’t ask for the solution, ask for the problem

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

— Henry Ford

It’s your job to learn your prospects problems and greatest struggles, and then with a mix of your expertise and the knowledge you’ve gained from your customers survey responses, come up with the solution.

I often see surveys asking ‘what do you want’ and I’m afraid that that’s the wrong question to ask. We need to ask what our customers problem is, and craft a solution that fits their needs.

It’s out job to come up with the solution, not theirs.

3. Ask for the single greatest problem, not all of their problems

As Jay-Z said so famously, he’s got 99 problems.

While I’ve never spoken with Jay-Z personally, I could imagine that some of those problems are bigger, they significantly impact his life right now, and others are more minor, not really a big deal, but just a slight annoyance.

We are most likely to buy products and services that solve our biggest pain point and frustration. We’re not so likely to buy something to solve an issue that is just a slight annoyance to us.

So when surveying your audience, don’t ask for all of their frustrations and problems, just the single biggest issue they’re struggling with.

Not to mention, people are lazy when completing surveys and want to complete them quickly, so asking for their single biggest issue as opposed to their top 5 problems means they’ll not feel so overwhelmed by the amount of info you’re asking for, and will be more likely to finish your survey.

4. Ensure your questions aren’t ‘leading’

Ask your question and avoid giving examples.

One of my questions was

‘What is your single biggest frustration with your website right now?’

Imagine I had followed that up with:

‘Examples: picking a template, creating a logo I like, picking a color scheme’

If I had given those examples along with the question, I’d be significantly more likely to receive those examples as answers, because they’d be top of mind for my respondent.

By giving an example, you’re leading your respondent to an answer, and therefore skewing your results, so leave off examples when writing your survey questions.

There we have it, 4 quick & easy things to consider when creating your survey. Here’s a recap:

  1. If you offer an incentive, make sure that’s it’s elated to your business

  2. Don’t ask for the solution, ask for the problem

  3. Ask for the single biggest problem only

  4. Leave off examples as they are leading and will skew responses

I hope that helped!

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4 things to consider when surveying your audience