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Running and managing surveys is among the core activities of every market research company. They might take different forms and shapes: from comprehensive multi-page research surveys to short and sweet online data-collection forms.

Creating surveys is an art on its own. They need to be compelling, friendly, represent your company well — so your responders would be willing to fill them out. If you’re new to creating surveys, there are a number of simple strategies that you might follow to guarantee healthy completion rates.

Respect Your Responders’ Time

People are busy. Lives are stressful. If you send a customer, client, or follower a survey, don’t expect always to receive a response right away. It’s important to give your responder time to sit down and go through the survey on their schedule, so it’s best not to put a short time limit on when they can do it. It’s also important not to make them feel rushed through the survey once they start.

When you’re putting together a survey, think about how you really want your responders to answer. If you’re creating a survey that features multiple-choice questions, it might not take as long for someone to complete it. But, if you want quality information and worded, well-thought-out answers, respect the time it takes for your responders to put their thoughts down. If someone is taking the time to sit down and complete your survey, the last thing you want is for them to feel like they’re on a time crunch to do it.

A responder should never feel pushed to get through a survey quickly. If they do, it can not only impact the answers they provide, but it will give you data that isn’t accurate, since they may not have had time to answer the way they would have if they would have thought things through.

Communicate Clearly

The point of a survey for a business is to gather accurate data and information as clearly and concisely as possible.

In order to do that, your responders need to fully understand each question you’re asking so they can respond accurately. It’s important to use language that is easy for everyone to understand. Don’t allow your questions to become too wordy and make sure they aren’t confusing in any way. Instead, they should be crisp and clear and easy to answer with a little bit of thought. Doing so will help to ensure you get the most accurate answers and the best possible data.

You can even “guide” your responders through questions that might be more complicated by giving a few examples or suggestions as a sort of “prompt” for their answer. But, you should never try to influence what they say, or you could end up with inaccurate information. Suggestions or examples should be used only to spark an idea or to give your responder the motivation to get through a particular question.

Break It Off

A long survey can look overwhelming and intimidating to responders. One way to make it more appealing and less intimidating is to break the survey into sections. Not only can responders look ahead to check out the sections before they start, but once they complete each section, they’ll have a sense of accomplishment and will be more motivated to move on to the next one.

Sections can help to turn a lengthy survey into something more manageable. But, that doesn’t mean you should put together a survey that takes all day to complete. Studies have shown that if a survey takes a responder longer than 20 minutes to complete, they might start to give inaccurate information just to get through the questions. As a result, your collected data could be inaccurate.

By having a concise survey that is broken up into sections, you’re more likely to get more responses from people, and it’s less likely that people will rush through them with inaccurate responses. Remember, your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for a responder to get through the survey so they will give you the clearest data possible.

Include A Navigation

Surveys should be encouraging. Remember, responders are doing this because they want to, not because they have to. Make it easier for them by including navigation through the survey itself. One of the easiest ways to do that is by including a “% complete” above or below the questions, so responders will know how many questions are still left unanswered.

This can be used as a motivational tool to keep responders moving forward. They can also look at the “% complete” bar to see how far they’ve come in the survey. If it’s over 50%, they’re likely to keep going since they’ve already completed half of it and don’t want to give up.

A navigation strategy can also help your responders to mentally prepare for what’s next. In addition to including a percentage bar, let your responders know which section is ‘next’ after they’ve completed the one they’re on. This can help them to start thinking about what they might want to say or how they might want to answer based on the subject coming up.

Remember that perfect design and structure for your surveys depends on your responders. Make sure that you tweak your surveys accordingly to cater to the needs of your audience. If your audience is well familiar with your company or brand, they’re likely to take the time to complete a longer survey. Also, longer surveys shouldn’t be a problem if you’re remunerating or incentivizing your responders somehow.

However, if your audience isn’t familiar with your company, or isn’t incentivized strongly enough, you might consider making your surveys shorter and providing more context in the form of descriptions, images or infographics.

This post was written by Vlad Shvets, a marketing manager at Paperform.

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