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Crafting an effective survey requires finesse. While running a survey is not rocket science, getting good quality results from it – is. You need to decide what type of survey questions to include, in fact, a well-designed survey includes a combination of different question types.

So if up until now you’ve lived in blissful unawareness thinking there only are 2 types of survey questions: open-ended and closed-ended, you’re about to get enlightened 🙂


Why should you use different types of survey questions?

Answering a survey will always require an effort from your respondent. No matter how long or short it is, they’ll have to find the time to complete it. The time they could invest elsewhere.

Therefore, it’s your job to ensure it requires as little effort as possible, but without compromising your research quality.

How do you achieve that? By using the right types of survey questions.

Types of survey questions and when to use them

There’s a variety of different types of survey questions you can choose from, here’re the most commonly used ones:

Closed-ended questions – can be answered with a simple yes or no or include a list of predefined answers that respondents choose from, for example:

How did you hear about our company?

  • From a friend
  • From social media
  • From a blog post
Types of survey questionsClosed-ended survey questions are best used:

  • After running qualitative research, to give you a better idea of what close-ended questions to ask
  • In quantitative usability studies (tracking products usability by collecting metrics, like time on task)
  • When you have a big sample size (over 1,000 respondents), to make data easier to analyze

Open-ended questions –- allow respondents to answer a question in their own words, for example:

We’re sorry to see you go. Could you please further explain your reasons for leaving?

types of survey questions

 

Open-ended questions are best used:

  • To get a broad overview of a topic
  • Before planning quantitative research
  • To gain additional insights into the researched topic
  • To assess your respondents’ feelings and attitudes
  • For persona or use-case research

 

Single choice questions –- allow respondents to select one answer only, for example:

How frequently would you like to receive the newsletter?

  • Once a week
  • One a month
  • Twice a month
types of survey questions

Single choice questions are best used:

  • To determine a user’s primary preference
  • To resolve a simple issue
  • When you plan to run a mobile survey and want to make it easy for your respondents to answer

 

Multiple choice questions – let respondents choose more than one answer, for example:

What type of content you’re most keen on?

  • Blog articles
  • Infographics
  • Video
  • Audio
types of survey questions

Multiple choice questions are best used:

  • To collect demographic information
  • To check personal preferences
  • When you intentionally want to offer your respondents more than one option to choose from

 

Net Promoter Score – measures customer loyalty. Answers to the NPS questions are scored on a 0-10 scale, and NPS ranges from -100 to +100. Based on the given scores, customers are divided into three groups: promoters, passives, and detractors.  NPS = % Promoters – % Detractors, for example:

How likely are you to recommend our product to a friend or colleague?

types of survey questions

NPS is best used:

  • To quickly check how satisfied a customer was with the service you provided
  • To spot any broken processes
  • To identify customers who could become your brand evangelists
  • To identify customers who are unhappy with your product/service and address their issues before they decide to leave

 

Matrix questions – have one or more rows of items which respondents evaluate on a scale from very satisfied to very unsatisfied, for example:

Please rate how satisfied are you with each of the following:

  • Support team
  • Delivery service
  • Quality of products
types of survey questions

Matrix questions are best used:

  • To cover various characteristics or subtopics of a particular topic
  • When you have a few interconnected questions with similar answer options
  • To reduce the length of your survey

 

Rating questions – assess how respondents feel about individual items; they measure positive or negative response to a statement or question, for example:

How would you rate our product?

types of survey questions

Rating questions are best used:

  • To get insights on what customers value
  • For user experience research
  • To instantly get a user/customer input

 

Ranking questions –  ask respondents to compare different items and to rank them in order of importance/value, for example: 

Please order items in from most to least important in terms of online food delivery:

types of survey questions

Ranking questions are best used:

  • To rank multiple items
  • To find out what features/aspects of your product/service customers like best
  • To drive product development that aligns with customer priorities

How to effectively combine different types of survey questions?

Now that you know what type of survey questions you have at your disposal, it’s time to learn how to effectively combine them.

Start by identifying the goals you want to achieve with your survey, like:

  • Figuring out the main churn reasons or,
  • Evaluating a newly introduced product feature

In the churn scenario, keep in mind that your customer might lack the motivation to answer your survey, as they’ve already decided to part ways with you. You could start with a multiple choice question – in case there is more than one reason your customer is leaving you.

Some might even be willing to provide you with more information on their churn reasons, so it’s worth including an open-ended question like: could you please tell us more about why you’re leaving?

Getting more insights will help you better address these issues, and hopefully, reduce your churn rate in the future.

Evaluating a newly introduced feature could be as simple as including an NPS or a rating question. If your customer is satisfied with the feature – great. If not, you could ask an additional question with a matrix question to investigate the issue further without requiring too much time from your respondent.

Generally, whenever you can, try using closed-ended questions. If you require additional information, use multiple choice questions or matrix questions.

Apply open-ended questions selectively, and preferably not as your opening question, as it might discourage your respondents from completing your survey.

Hopefully, you’ve learned a bit about what types of survey questions you can use, and how to combine them to make the most of your surveys.

If you’re searching for a survey platform, be sure to check out Survicate – it offers a wide survey selection (including mobile surveys, web surveys, email surveys) with all questions discussed above included! There’s a free version, so you have nothing to lose!

Be sure to also check out our survey templates to test the examples we discussed above.