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Cheat Sheet

Online Surveys For Dummies

From Online Surveys For Dummies by Vivek Bhaskaran, Jennifer LeClaire

Online surveys can be exciting, revealing, and an exercise in greater profitability for your company — or it can be arduous, time-wasting, and downright frustrating. Your experience depends largely on the tools you use to conduct your online survey . . . and the knowledge you have about how to use those tools. Consider this guide a tool to help you streamline your online survey building and promotional processes.

Top Online Surveys Blogs and Forums

Go to these blogs and forums and you'll get a wealth of practical information from people who have gone before you on the online surveys journey.

Your A to Z Guide to Free and Low-Cost Online Survey Software

Before you invest a single penny in online survey software, take some of the free and inexpensive online survey programs for a test drive. You might find that these tools give you a nice view of the landscape. In order to begin using the free tools, you need to know where to find them.

Online Survey Courses, Classes, and Education Programs

Need more help getting your online survey started? Try one of these companies that offer online survey courses, workshops, and webinars, and put your online survey to even better use.

Tips for Better Online Surveys

There’s always room for improvement with online surveys. Check out these eight hot tips for better online surveys and build your own list to share with your colleagues.

  • Keep your surveys brief if possible. Shorter surveys tend to have higher completion rates.

  • Don't ask a question unless the answer has real value to your organization or you are wasting your time and your respondent's.

  • If your survey must be long, offer opportunities to quit the survey at several intervals so at least you can gain answers to some of the early questions before they drop out.

  • Spice up your survey questions with fun language when possible rather than using serious terms that put people to sleep.

  • Use simple language that people of all education levels and backgrounds can understand so there are no misunderstandings as to the intent of the question.

  • Don't use biased language that leads the respondent to answer one way or another. The question should seem neutral, as if your company has no opinion.

  • Make up a name for your survey so your respondents can clearly understand the theme of the survey and the goal you are working toward.

  • Use a descriptive, catchy subject line for your e-mail invitation so your recipients are more likely to open your e-mail.

Essential Online Survey Terms

Before you launch your next survey, be sure you speak the language. Here are five essential online survey terms that will make you sound like a pro.

  • Open-ended question: A type of survey question designed to allow respondents to share their thoughts in their own words.

  • Segmenting: Groups of respondents based on specific characteristics, such as age, geography, gender or online versus offline customer.

  • Template: A document that includes suggested questions or layouts that helps you prepare your online survey more quickly.

  • Unbalanced scale: A biased scale that offers more options on one side of an opinion than another. Balanced scales, by contrast, offer an equal number of options on each side of the scale.

  • Page break: A tool in the online survey software that lets the author start a new page for the next question. Page breaks can help avoid respondent bias that may come from seeing later questions.

Easy Online Survey Shortcuts

Developing online surveys can be time-consuming when you first get started. Check out these online survey shortcuts that will put you on the fast track to success.

  • Survey templates: Most vendors offer survey template libraries pre-designed templates for your survey, whether it’s a customer satisfaction survey, marketing survey or some other survey type. This is a quick alternative to creating custom templates.

  • Question library: Most vendors have a question library that gives you the ability to create a library of questions you can reuse again and again so you don’t have to recreate them each time you launch a new survey.

  • Start with your own templates: Many survey tools let you use an existing survey as a template. Use a basic survey to start, then copy it and customize for each project.

  • Import from a Word or text document: Write your survey in Microsoft Word or a text file, then import the survey into your online survey tool (if supported).

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