Why send out a survey? You could learn about your current customers. Or you might find out what’s most important to your potential customers. One sentence here about why you should survey, something to the effect of: They offer a way to keep in touch with your audience or collect information, even when you’re not pitching a sale.
Offer a Reward
Follow the copy writing tools and always make an incentive for your audience to complete the survey.
In any kind of marketing where you are working to get a specific result, you need to offer a reward. In some cases with short forms, the reward can be a look at the survey results. CNN.com runs short surveys quite frequently. For longer forms, you will want to up the ante a bit with a more valuable reward that is likely to be enticing to the potential respondent. Registrants can be entered to win a Palm Pilot or a new car (depending on your budget).
Keep It Short
The “perceived-length” is a key factor when respondents evaluate a form. You want to make a form that looks short and easy to complete. Many online surveys do this by breaking the form up into steps. On some forms you only have one question per page. The last thing you want to do is have your audience arrive at a form that looks long and scary. They’ll back away intimidated.
Once a respondent is involved in the form and has completed the first few questions they will be invested in the process and more likely to complete the survey.
Tell Visitors How Long It Takes to Complete!
When you are asking for someone’s time, they typically want to know, “How long will this take me?” If it seems like it will take too long, forget it. The longer the time required, the fewer participants you will have.
To give respondents an idea of how long the form is, each page of a multi-page form should indicate how much of the form is remaining. Do this only after the first page of the form is complete. You’ll want them to invest some time in the form’s completion before telling them there are four or five pages. If they know that at the beginning they may not start it. But if you show this on page two, they’re more likely to push forward and complete the form.
I’ve seen this done by writing the current page number over the total number of form pages. I’ve also seen this indicated as a percent of the total.
Keep It Simple
An email survey is really just an HTML survey. The difference is, you are sending it as an HTML email format or you are sending your subscribers a link to go complete the survey. There are a couple of secrets to a good online survey.
Keep it clean and simple. A clean and simple page design for your form will keep your respondents focused. You should not include navigation on the form pages that lead to other areas of your site. If you do, your respondents will click away and wander off.
Don’t Set a Default for Form Answers
I’ve seen cases where the data received from an online form is very skewed to certain answers, only to find out that the form creator had set those answers as the default. For example: If you have someone completing a form for a prize, they might not treat it seriously and give bogus information just to complete it as quickly as possible. In these cases, the defaults will be untouched, which looks to you like many people selected those as their answers.
For an email survey you want the subject line to be very compelling and state an obvious benefit to ensure the recipient takes the time to complete it.
Here are a couple of examples…
Subject: Share Your Thoughts – Get a Free Gift [90 Seconds]
Subject: Complete Our Survey – You Could Win a New DELL PC
Notice how the first example also indicates the amount of time required? It helps subscribers to realize the survey will not take long. You can also indicate this by showing the number of questions. If you are afraid to show the number of questions, make sure the reward provides enough motivation.
Typical Form Objectives:
There are many reasons to send out a survey. You could:
• Learn about your current customers
• Find out what’s most important to your potential customers
• Discover buying habits
• Identify new needs that you can fill
• Discover trends that will help you find more customers
• Gauge satisfaction and learn areas to improve your business
• Research topics of interest for your audience
• Collect demographic info to show potential advertisers
How Can I Get Form Help?
Most web masters and web design firms can help you to create forms and HTML surveys. Let them know that it’s something you wish to email or drive traffic to via email.
There are a variety of services that can help you create forms that you can then send via email. A site that can help you with form creation is www.formsite.com. It makes form creation easy by performing the form action on its servers. The most complex part of creating forms is getting the form action to work, because it requires the proper referencing of files and working with scripts. If you are creating surveys you can also check out Survey Monkey at http://www.surveymonkey.com . This site provides a tool to help you design surveys, collect responses and analyze the results.
Offer a Privacy Statement
Make it Easy to Complete
I can’t stress this enough. The form candidate is doing you a favor by offering the information. The form should be as quick and easy to complete as possible. Do not clutter the form with questions that will generate information you won’t use. The more questions, the fewer completions you will receive.