Insights from Dennis – #3
Eight tips for building your questionnaire
You have prepared everything, you have spent hours or even days building the perfect questionnaire. You’ve come up with creative questions, created a fancy layout, invited your participants with a nicely worded mail and still it happens:
Your participants don’t take part in the survey or drop out during the survey.
You don’t know what the reason is and are understandably disappointed, because you spared no expense and effort. And now this?
There are many reasons for a low participation rate or a high dropout rate. In this video, Dennis looks at the question of why your participants don’t want to take part in the survey or why they don’t see it through to the end. The result is 8 tips that Dennis would like to give you to build your perfect survey.
#1 Do not use internal terms in the questionnaire
Every company has its own internal language with a variety of non-official terms and abbreviations. These are probably familiar to any long-time employee, but it may be different for your customers.
Our first tip is to always communicate in the language of your participants and avoid internal phrases and abbreviations. This way you rule out participants bailing because they don’t understand what you want from them.
#2 Position survey at the event moment
If you want to ask your subscribers about a specific event, such as after they have made a purchase of one of your products, then the survey should be positioned promptly after the event.
The reason for this is that a person’s attention span is often very short. If you wait too long with your survey, the participant will have already forgotten a large part of it and you will lose valuable information.
Also avoid questions like: “What search term did you enter when you landed on our website?”, because this information is usually deleted after seconds and the participant can no longer answer the question. You’re giving away a question that could have been better used to get other relevant information.
#3 Choose the right time
You’ve built the perfect questionnaire and now you want to distribute your survey as quickly as possible to get your results. That’s why you send out the invitations to your survey on Monday morning at 8:00 am. Sounds logical, but is that the right time for your participants?
Monday mornings are usually first meetings to talk about the week’s upcoming tasks or possible problems from the previous week. Participation in a survey tends to take a back seat. Depending on the type and target group of the survey, you should therefore always make sure when your participants are available and have the necessary attention for your survey. Because if you get the timing wrong, the invitation will quickly be forgotten.
#4 Avoid text duplication
You’ve put a lot of effort into writing an engaging text about the reason and objective of your survey. Say why you are conducting this survey, what you need the feedback for, and what your goal is. You have already placed this text in the invitation to your survey and your participants have read it carefully. Now your respondents start the survey and read the identical text again on the welcome page. This costs your respondents valuable time that they may not have.
As mentioned in the second tip, a person’s attention span is often very short. Therefore, you should get to the essentials as quickly as possible and avoid repeating text. The following tip also fits in with this.
#5 Formulate texts to the point
Yes, we are social creatures and have a lot to say, plus somehow all the important information for answering the questions has to be included in the survey. But often less is more.
You probably know this from yourself: As soon as we see a long text, our first thought is often, “Phew!” Therefore, try to get to the point quickly and specifically. Make the best use of the short attention span and guide your respondent through the survey without overwhelming them with too long texts.
#6 Place multilingual questionnaires in a survey
easyfeedback already offers you many options on the system side to make it easier for you to set up a survey. When creating a multilingual survey, for example, you have the option of creating multiple languages in a single survey instead of having to create a separate survey for each language.
This offers you the advantage of seeing your results at a glance and not having to painstakingly combine them from each survey. The results of the individual languages can also be split in easyfeedback. Creating a separate survey for each language is tedious and time-consuming. You can save this time.
#7 Increase trust in anonymity
Anonymity plays a major role in employee surveys in particular, as employees are often afraid of being identified and possibly drawing negative conclusions from their constructive feedback. To prevent this fear, the anonymity function of easyfeedback guarantees one hundred percent anonymous participation. However, the participant is usually unaware of this. A note at the beginning of the survey makes sense, but often doubts remain about the anonymity of the survey on the part of the employees.
However, there are two little tricks to increase the trust of your employees at this point. We recommend that you address your participants in general rather than personally in the e-mail invitation – even if this is technically possible. In this way, you make it clear that you are addressing a broad audience and not just one individual. If you address your employees personally, it could happen that your employees fear that their answers will be assigned to their name. You can avoid this with this simple trick.
Furthermore, it is technically possible to send a reminder email only to the people who have not yet participated in the survey. This makes sense for many survey variants, because they only address the people who are actually meant.
However, our experience has shown that this can be a hindrance in an anonymous employee survey. How does the tool know that I have not yet participated if the survey is anonymous? Therefore, our tip to you: send a reminder email to all participants of an employee survey with the note: “If you have not yet participated, then we hereby again politely request that you do so.”.
#8 Use mandatory questions sparingly
You’ve put so much effort into designing your questionnaire, so naturally you want the participant to answer all the questions. This quickly tempts you to define all questions in the questionnaire as “mandatory questions”. But mandatory questions are an obstacle for the participant, which is why we recommend using them only when they are absolutely necessary.
This is the case when I work with logics, filters or jumps. In this situation, I need a response from the participant in order to perform a follow-up action. From our experience we recommend to check carefully in all other cases whether a mandatory question is necessary, because there are always questions that a participant cannot or does not want to answer. If they are forced to answer, this can falsify the validity of your results or lead to the survey being aborted. You can mitigate the forcing of an answer by using the “No answer” function, but we generally recommend to use mandatory questions sparingly.
So, now you have received 8 tips for your next survey from us. As you can see, setting up a (perfect) survey is – like everything in life – a challenge you have to face first. Even the conception of the questionnaire takes some time – and that’s a good thing: Concrete questions have to be created, a good layout and design has to be conceived and an appealing invitation text has to be written. That takes time. But the time you invest here will pay off for you, because the success of a survey is already paved during the conception of the questionnaire.
But the best-designed questionnaire is of no use to you if your target group does not participate or drops out during the survey. Therefore, it is important to track down the reasons for this.
Often it’s little things like a wrongly chosen time to send the survey, the use of internal phrases or a text written too elaborately in the euphoria, which leads to the fact that your participation rate does not correspond to your wishes.
We hope that the 8 tips for the perfect survey will help you to uncover possible weak points in your survey before it is published and thus achieve a high participation rate.
If you need any more tips or inspiration about interviewing, check out our blog.