A good survey can collect a wealth of information, perfect for directing your business towards success. There are a couple of different ways you can go about creating a good survey, and we’re going to go through them.

This guide will cover:

  • How surveys can help your business research.
  • How to create a good survey for your research.
  • How to choose the right questions for your survey.

How surveys can help your business research

Market research is when you use various methods (like surveys) to gather information about a certain market and its customers. There are two types of market research you can use, primary and secondary.

Primary market research is when a business finds and collects new information and data. Surveys and questionnaires fit into this category, because you typically look for a customer’s current thoughts and opinions

Secondary market research, on the other hand, is when a business uses existing information to inform their business decisions. This existing information can come from inside the business (internal) or from a different organisation (external). 

Surveys are so helpful in your market research because they provide qualitative data. This information can show you exactly what you need to improve, or what you’re already doing well.

How to create a good survey for your research

We’ve broken down each step to creating a good survey, so you can perfectly tailor it to your business.

Define the problem

The whole reason you’re conducting research is to try and solve a problem in your business. Maybe you want to improve your customer service, or maybe there’s a specific product you’re not offering. 

It’s important to know exactly what you want the survey to find before starting. If you’re unsure, this can stop you from asking the right questions and won’t help your business.

Set goals and objectives

Once you’ve defined the problem you want to solve, set yourself some goals so you know how to fix it. For instance, if a particular item isn’t selling well then your objective could be “find out how to improve product X”.

You can then expand on this to become “use a survey to find out why the target market isn’t interested in product X”. These objectives will help to guide your survey, and get the information you need. 

Define your target market

Every business should know who their target market is. Whether you want to define that a little more for your survey depends on your type of business. 

For example, imagine a wide range of people use your business. You may want to focus on the type of people who come in more regularly and spend the most money. 

On the other hand, you might want to see how you can convert your irregular customers into more loyal ones. 

How you define your target market for your survey depends on which areas of your business you want to target. 

Set timelines

Knowing how long you should collect information can be tricky. For one, you don’t want to stop before people have had a chance to contribute. You also don’t want to leave it up for so long that the data becomes old. 

The timeline for your survey depends entirely on your intended audience and the questions you ask. For example, a short five-minute survey that targets the general public might take a few days. 

If you’re asking in-depth questions to a specific audience though, then it could take a couple of weeks to collect the results. 

Setting a timeline respective to the data you want to collect helps you know when to call it a day. You might find that responses continue to trickle in, but the ones you already have should be sufficient.

Use the right tools

When you’re designing your survey, think about what it will be like for other people to complete. 

The more difficult or confusing it is, the fewer people will complete it. Ultimately, you might be left with a fraction of the feedback you expected.

Using the right tools (like SurveyMonkey and Google Forms) can make filling out your survey more enjoyable for your target market. The more user-friendly you can make your survey, the more people will complete it. 

These websites can include a progress bar, for instance. This lets users know exactly how far along they are can help reduce the amount of incomplete surveys. 

Distribute the survey effectively

If you don’t distribute the survey effectively, you won’t get the results you need. 

If you don’t put your survey in enough places, hardly anyone will even see it. On the other hand, putting in the wrong places could also attract information from the wrong audience. 

Either of these options could seriously affect the data you’re able to collect, give you misleading results, and end up affecting your business. 

Where to distribute

If you’ve built a strong social media presence, you could share the link on your page. This means the people likely to see it are the ones who frequently visit your social media pages. 

If you’re a local business, you may want to post it on the local community page. This could be effective if you’re trying to reach people who might not currently use your business. 

How to choose the right questions for your survey

The type of questions you ask should reflect the information you need. You can use open and closed questions to get the answers you’re looking for.

For example, a food delivery business interested in customer satisfaction might ask “Which is your favourite meal?”. 

This is a closed quantitative question, and any answer the customer gives is limited to what the business already offers.

Quantitative questions usually have multiple-choice answers or check boxes.

Alternatively, if the same business wanted to gather new customers, they might ask “What meals would you like to see?”. 

By asking an open qualitative question, you give the customer the opportunity to speak their mind. The customer can respond with any meal they’d like, not one limited to the current menu.

Qualitative questions typically use text boxes for the respondent to fill out.

Qualitative and quantitative questions can both be used effectively to gather different information. 

Quantitative questions get a limited range of answers that are very easy to analyse quickly. These are better at finding out a wider audience’s general feelings.

Qualitative questions, meanwhile, focus on in-depth answers, but are time-consuming to process. These are better at finding out why a customer feels a certain way.

Continuing and using your market research

When you’re starting a business in any industry, doing the right research can help you hit the ground running. Your chosen business niche might already be quite competitive. 

Knowing how to research competition for your business plan can help you stay aware of your competitors and create a solid plan.

If you’re using market research to adapt your business, then you may want to read our guide on product development. It’ll give you some ideas on how to make sure your new products are a success.

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