Online Surveys - Tips and Tools

Submitted on Thu, 8/16/2012 - 3:31pm
Here are 5 tips to help ensure your online survey is effective in capturing the information you need.

Online surveys are a great way to gather information from and gain insight on your members.  So if you’re preparing for summer planning sessions and want member feedback on priorities, programs or issues, an online survey might be the answer.

5 Tips for Effective Online Surveys:

Here are 5 tips to help ensure your online survey is effective in capturing the information you need:

  1. Set clear objectives: 
    What are you trying to learn? What metrics do you need to help you achieve your goals? You might want to work backwards - first think about what results you want, then determine the questions you need to ask. I’ve learned the hard way to consider how you’ll apply the data before you craft the questions.
  2. Keep it short and simple:
    You’ll probably get a better response to a brief survey, simply because it will be less time consuming.  It’s also important to ask concise questions with well formulated answers. Giving participants specific choices (e.g., yes, no, rating scale, multiple choice) make the questions easier to answer and simplifies analysis as well.

    Don’t forget to include an explanation as to why you are conducting the survey as well as a thank-you at the end of the survey.
  3. Test it and time it right:
    Once you’ve drafted the survey, test it out on a small group of members - e.g., a few of your Board Members, etc. Get their feedback and take a look at the type of results you receive to be sure your format is effective.

    It goes without saying that you should proofread carefully for any typos and be sure to proof and test your email invitation as well.

    In terms of timing, research suggests that you’ll get the best response on Monday, Friday and Sunday - so these might be the best days to send your invitations or post the survey.
  4. Promote it:

    Promotion is key if you want to achieve a high response rate to gain a true representation of your members’ viewpoints. There are a number of ways you can promote your online survey, including:

    •  
      • Personalized emails
      • Posting on your website
      • Posting on Facebook
      • Including a note and the link in your e-newsletter
      • Write a blog post or forum post with the link and timelines
  5. Share the results:
    While you are conducting the online survey to meet your own objectives, it’s also important to share the results with the participants and your membership in general. It offers an opportunity to thank those who participated and to leverage the results for additional member content.

    For example, we recently conducted a Membership Renewal Survey among our blog readers and Facebook followers. We then shared the results through a blog post and infographic and we included our survey findings in a Membership Renewal Guide as well.

Online Survey Tools:

There are a number of online survey tools out there.  We haven’t tried them all, but Idealware created a great article - A Few Good Online Survey Tools - (available in our Membership Knowledge Hub) that offers summaries of 10 popular survey tools.

We’ve also heard of a few other online survey tools you might also want to check out:

Have you tried online member surveys?  If so, share your tips and preferred tools in the comments below.

With experience in membership and communications at a number of professional and business associations as well as charities, Lori has an understanding of the challenges organizations face in engaging, retaining and growing members, volunteers and donors.

This article was originally published at http://www.wildapricot.com/blogs/newsblog/2012/07/13/online-surveys---tips-and-tools and is reprinted with permission.