Surveys offer you a way to gain crucial insight into the needs, goals, and thoughts of your customers and users, that you can then take and use to improve past products and services or create new products and services that your customers need.

In short, it’s a way to tap your customers for great ideas, provided you understand how to design your questions to pull the best, unbiased opinions and ideas from your users. So how do you survey your audience?

How to Survey Your Users

Your Purpose

To effectively survey your users, you first need to decide what the purpose of your survey is.

The great thing about a survey is that you can ask a wide range of questions that don’t necessarily have to be related to one another, but you should have a goal, or a few goals, for your survey, so it doesn’t become an endless stream of questions.

Most people are happy to answer questions, but if the survey is too long you risk people getting bored and clicking away before they’ve completed it.

Surveying basics – whom to survey?

It makes sense that you next decide whom you are going to ask to fill in your survey – again, if you don’t define this early, the survey you put together may include extraneous questions that you could have culled if you spent some time defining whom you’re asking.

Use any data you already have on your customers, users or prospects to segment your audience, so you can decide what kinds of questions will resonate with whom.

If you use a CRM (customer relationship management tool) or another communication tool, you can look at your recent interactions and any tags or properties you have assigned to specific profiles.
This will help you decide what questions will evoke the best answers from your customers.

You can use a survey integration tool that will automatically pull the data for you from all the major CRMs and marketing applications, such as Salesforce, Pardot, HubSpot, Slack, Zendesk, Google Analytics, MailChimp and more.

How to survey your users

If this would help you save a ton of time, you can learn about our integrations here.

How to Design Your Questions

Then, decide what kind of answers will give you the insight you want:

Do you want to use mostly open-ended questions, or closed-ended questions?

Open-ended vs closed-ended questions

You can find a full explanation of open- and closed-ended questions here, but essentially an open-ended question is one that gives the respondents space to answer the question how they please, and sometimes to interpret the question how they please.

A closed-ended question is one with pre-defined answers for the respondent to choose from.
The benefit of an open-ended question is that the respondent can fully explain how they feel, but the disadvantage is that you may get data you can’t use.

Conversely, the benefit of a closed-ended question is that you will have a very specific set of data to use.

Nevertheless, the disadvantage is that you shoebox your respondents into a certain answer and they may only be able to choose an answer that most closely relates to how they feel, but doesn’t fully encompass their thoughts.

It is up to you to decide which style of question best suits your purposes, but there’s more to designing your survey.

You should also consider asking follow-up questions and applying skip-question logic, which is where you allow people to skip a question if they answered a previous question in a way, that would now render the next question(s) irrelevant.

The crucial thing you should have in your mind as you design your questions is to ensure you aren’t leading your respondents to any particular answer or making it obvious what answer you want them to give.

It’s common to want a specific outcome of your questions, but you have to remove this desire from your questions and allow your respondents to answer honestly.

These questions are:

Leading and non-leading questions

Simply put, all your questions should be non-leading.

Here are a couple of examples:

Leading: Did you find our latest sale exciting?
Non-Leading: How did you feel about our latest sale?

Leading: Did you think your customer service representative was polite and happy to hear from you?
Non-Leading: What did you think about your recent customer service experience?

It’s a fine line to walk, but if you are leading the respondent toward a certain answer (e.g. “yes they were polite” or “no they were not polite”) even if it isn’t necessarily a positive answer, it is a leading question.

Try to give your respondents as much room to define their answers on their own.

If you want to limit their responses, you can do so with a closed-ended question with a specific number of responses, but again, while these will be pre-defined, you should try to keep them from leading.

For example, if you ask a non-leading question, such as “How did you feel about your most recent purchasing experience with us?” the answer options to give them cannot only be “very happy” and “happy”.

A good rule of thumb is to have an odd number of answer options with the middle number as a neutral option.

However, there are a lot of different ways you can design your survey questions – make sure to choose the ones most fitting for you.

How Can I Design a Survey Quickly and Efficiently?

To quickly and efficiently create your customer and user surveys, you need to use great survey software. There are plenty of tools out there that will help you throw together a survey. Still, if you want a survey that integrates with your current systems, has a great UI (and user experience), and provides you with the data and templates to create a survey that gives you crucial insight into the minds of your users and customers, you need something designed for fast-growing businesses like yours.

To find out more, see how Survicate can help with your data research goals.

Kasia Kowalska

Senior Content Specialist @Survicate. Passionate traveler and a massive fan of American stand-up comedy!