4 Tips To Improve Your DIY Market Research Surveys

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Small businesses now have access to some effective and affordable market research tools.

Web-based survey tools like Survey Monkey and on-line polling widgets now make it really easy to get opinions fast. But market research survey design is a skill and the results are only as good as the quality of the survey.

Recently, I’ve seen a few examples of poorly structured “do it yourself” surveys which has prompted me to write this post.  So here we go,  four simple tips you can use to improve them.

1. Ask Specific Questions Using Plain English

When writing your questions, use plain English and be as specific as possible. You need to avoid any chance of mis-interpretation by the reader.  Here is an example of a question requiring too much interpretation:

What is your favourite department store?

This question is too general because consumers may have different preferences depending on what they purchase. They will interpret the question for themselves as it provides no context.  A better question would be:

From which department store do you prefer to purchase business shirts?

This second question provides context and is more specific.

2. Ask Questions In A Logical Order

It’s a fact that most people don’t like answering surveys.  Remember this when ordering your questions. You should always ask questions that are non-threatening, interesting and easy to answer at the start. Save the difficult questions for later once the respondent has time to warm up.

3. Don’t Ask Leading Questions

Leading questions give the respondent a clue to what the preferred answers should be or who the survey is for. An example is:

Do you think Australian companies should outsource overseas when it leads to factory closures in Australia?

Seriously, who is going to answer yes to that question?  Make sure your questions don’t lead the responder to answer in a certain way and certainly don’t give them an obvious clue who the survey is for.

4. Keep The Survey As Short As Possible

It’s a good idea to keep surveys short. Under 5 minutes is preferable.  Once surveys become longer, answer fatigue sets in and respondents don’t think as much about the answers they give.  Another good way to shorten surveys is to double-check you haven’t asked the same question twice.  I don’t mean in the exact wording, but often surveys ask the same question just worded a different way. Check for this when you proof read your survey.

So there you go, none of these are difficult to implement.  They will help you create better surveys that will help keep you ahead of the pack.

About the author

Chris Dale Chris Dale is the founder and Managing Director of MarketingHQ. He is a Certified Practising Marketer with over 15 years senior marketing experience. He helps small and medium sized businesses create great marketing strategies and systems that grow their businesses. You can connect with him on or on LinkedIn.

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