May 13, 2013

10 Things I Know About ... Constructing A Meaningful Survey


Winett

10. KNOW YOUR GOAL

The sales department may use surveys to generate leads while product marketing may want feedback on product features and functions.

9. MASTER TERMS, CONCEPTS AND ISSUES

For a survey on cardiac devices, for example, consult the web and find professional articles and glossaries that will help you get up to speed.

8. TARGET THE RIGHT PEOPLE
If you want feedback on home health alert systems for seniors, for instance, decide whether you want user input or input from the purchasers, who are often the children of the users.

7. GET EVERYONE ON BOARD
If stakeholders are not interested in the project, they won't provide the necessary input. To survey customers, first make sure the sales department will release customers' names.

6. ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

Consider demographic questions (company size, industry), opinion questions ("Why did you choose our product?"), and behavioral questions ("Will you upgrade your system within the next two years?")

5. KNOW HOW YOU'LL SURVEY
Are the types of questions you designed suitable for that type of survey? Online surveys cost less to administer, but they don't allow for probing questions.

4. RESPECT RESPONDENTS' TIME
Keep questionnaires short and straightforward. View the questions and the survey process from the respondents' point of view.

3. PROVIDE INCENTIVES FOR LONGER SURVEYS

Offer free reports or white papers, a drawing, or a charitable contribution.

2. TEST AND REFINE
Take your own survey, providing various answers and following different paths to see if they work. Fine tune questions where necessary.

1. BE UPFRONT ABOUT SURVEY LENGTH AND SPONSOR

Often, it's enough to say, "The sponsor is from another industry and is not a competitor."

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Ruth Winett is the founder and president of Winett Associates in Natick, which provides market research and writing services for businesses. Contact her at rwinett@rcn.com.

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