How to Create Surveys that Convert - Tips and Best Practices to Know

Surveys are an incredible tool for engaging target audiences and collecting valuable information.

As a testament to their effectiveness, pages with interactive content like quizzes and surveys generate 40% more conversions. That’s why they’re also a key tool for more than half of marketers.

But understanding the value of surveys is one thing, while knowing how to use them well is another. To truly unlock the value of surveys, you need to know how to effectively design them and best practices for using them. 

In this article, we’ll drill down into the specifics of all you should know about creating surveys that convert. Let’s begin by outlining exactly what surveys do and why they’re a big deal.

Understanding Surveys 

Surveys take many different forms. But at their core, they are structured questionnaires designed to gather information or opinion from a target group of respondents. 

They are a fun and engaging way to collect data and gain insights into customer preferences, satisfaction levels, and user behavior. Surveys can be deployed through various mediums like in-person interviews, online platforms, telephone interviews or emails.

Say you wish to understand how your customers feel about aspects of your services or you want to know what new products they’d like to see. Surveys provide an excellent means of gathering the information you need.

They play a crucial role collecting data and insights directly from individuals, making them an indispensable tool for researchers, marketers, and businesses alike.

What are the types of surveys?

Surveys fall into four main categories.

Online Surveys

These surveys are popular due to their ease of use and wide reach. 

You would typically launch them through web-based platforms, like a website landing page, email, social media post, or a message in an online forum. 

Online surveys offer convenience, as respondents can participate at any time and from anywhere.

Pros of online surveys

  • Wide reach and access to a larger pool of respondents
  • Cost-effective data collection and speedy analysis
  • Flexible question types and response options
  • Can use skip logic and branching for personalized surveys

Cons of online surveys

  • Limited control over the survey environment and potential distractions
  • May have internet connectivity and some technology requirements (especially for image heavy surveys)
  • May be hard to reach certain demographics like older individuals or those with limited internet access

Paper-Based Surveys

Paper-based surveys use physical questionnaires. They can be useful when targeting specific populations that may have limited access to technology. 

However, they require manual data entry and can be time-consuming to analyze. In addition, you need a plan to collect the questionnaires once respondents are done.

Pros of paper-based surveys

  • Provides anonymity for respondents which can encourage honest responses
  • Accessible to populations without internet access
  • Can be administered flexibly in various locations

Cons of paper-based surveys

  • Requires manual data entry and analysis which can be time-consuming and error-prone
  • Limited ability to verify respondent identity or prevent duplicate responses
  • High costs associated with printing, distribution, and postage

Telephone Surveys

Telephone surveys involve conducting interviews over the phone. 

They offer a personal touch, allowing for interactive conversations with respondents. This can lead to high response rates, up to 60%

One drawback though is they may have lower response rates due to potential respondent reluctance or limited availability.

Pros of telephone surveys

  • Personalized and interactive conversations with respondents
  • You can clarify questions on the spot and probe for detailed responses
  • Lets you reach diverse populations, including those without internet access

Cons of telephone surveys

  • Respondents may be reluctant to participate or provide accurate information
  • Busy schedules and call screening can hamper your response rates
  • It leaves room for leading or biased questions 

In-Person Surveys

Lastly, in-person surveys are the most involved type of surveys —- they require face-to-face interactions with respondents. 

You’ll typically conduct these surveys at specific locations, events, or through door-to-door approaches. 

In-person surveys offer a higher level of engagement and the opportunity for clarifying questions. But, they can be resource-intensive and time-consuming.

Pros of in-person surveys

  • Face-to-face interaction for better rapport and understanding
  • Gives opportunities for real-time clarification and probing
  • Can encourage greater engagement from participants 
  • Offers potential for deeper insights

Cons of in-person surveys

  • Resource-intensive, requiring trained interviewers and logistical coordination
  • You’re unlikely to get a large crowd of respondents 
  • The presence of an interviewer may also increase the likelihood of bias

What survey type you choose will depend on factors like your target audience, research objectives, and how much time/resources you can spare. 

But once you understand the types of surveys and their pros/cons, it’s easier to select what works best for your purposes.

Benefits of surveys 

One of the key benefits of surveys is how it helps collect quality data. As research shows, finding usable data can be a hassle for most companies. 

At least 77% of companies say they have data quality issues, and 91% confess that it has an impact on their performance.

Quality data enables quality insights, and that’s what surveys bring. 

Here are some other benefits that surveys provide for businesses:

  • Excellent tool for customer engagement: Surveys provide an avenue for businesses to engage with their customers directly. By soliciting feedback, opinions, and preferences, surveys make customers feel valued and involved in the decision-making process. This engagement fosters a sense of loyalty and strengthens the relationship between the business and its customers.
  • Helps gather critical insights: Surveys offer a structured and systematic approach to collect valuable information. They enable businesses to obtain insights into customer satisfaction levels, preferences, purchasing behavior, demographics, and more. These insights help businesses identify trends, understand customer motivations, and make data-driven decisions to improve products, services, and overall customer experience.
  • Provides data that is easy to analyze: Surveys provide quantifiable and actionable data that can be easily analyzed. With the help of survey software and data analysis tools, businesses can quickly process and interpret survey responses. Analyzing survey data allows for the identification of patterns, trends, and correlations that can inform marketing strategies, product development, and customer retention efforts.
  • Enables cost-effective data analysis: Compared to other methods of data collection, such as focus groups or interviews, surveys are relatively cost-effective. With advancements in technology, online surveys have become particularly affordable and efficient. They eliminate the need for printing, distribution, and manual data entry, reducing both time and costs associated with data collection.
  • Supports rapid data collection: Surveys enable businesses to collect data in a relatively short period. With online surveys, businesses can reach a large number of respondents quickly, allowing for timely data collection and analysis. This real-time data can be invaluable for making agile business decisions, responding to emerging trends, and staying ahead of the competition.
  • Makes it easy to reach a large audience: Surveys offer scalability, making it possible to collect data from a large number of respondents simultaneously. Online surveys, in particular, provide a wide reach and allow businesses to target specific demographics or reach a global audience. This scalability and reach enable businesses to gather diverse perspectives and ensure representative samples for more accurate insights.

You know the benefits that surveys can provide for your business. But how can you harness these benefits through effective survey design? We’ll discuss next how to choose a survey type.

Choosing the Right Survey Method 

Right off the bat, it’s important to know why selecting the right survey method is key. 

With the right survey method, you can collect accurate data and obtain meaningful insights. But that’s only possible when the survey fits your needs perfectly. 

Here are the key considerations to keep in mind.

Define your research objectives

Start by clearly defining your research objectives. Your research objectives are essentially the reasons why you’re conducting the survey or the goals you hope to achieve. 

Examples of research objectives include to:

  • Measure customer satisfaction
  • Research and understand market trends
  • Identify and qualify customer segments
  • Test the popularity of a product or service

Defining your objectives will help you identify the most appropriate survey method to achieve your goals.

Understand your target audience

Consider the characteristics of your target audience. Are they tech-savvy and likely to respond well to online surveys? 

Or would a more traditional method, such as paper-based or telephone surveys, be more suitable? 

Understanding your target audience's preferences and accessibility is crucial for maximizing response rates and obtaining representative data.

Consider budget and resources

Your available budget and resources will determine what type of survey you apply and how. 

For example, online surveys are generally more cost-effective, as they eliminate printing and distribution costs. So, they’re a great option where cheap distribution and easy analysis are priorities.

On the other hand, in-person surveys or telephone interviews may require more financial resources due to the need for trained interviewers or travel expenses.

Consider the trade-offs between costs and the level of insights you hope to achieve, and then plan accordingly.

Assess feasibility and logistics

Think about how the different survey methods would work based on your research scope and logistics. Then go through a process of elimination to identify the most suitable.

Online surveys offer scalability and reach, but if your target audience has limited internet access, alternative methods may be necessary. 

Paper-based surveys may be suitable for certain contexts, but consider factors such as data entry requirements and logistics for analyzing physical forms.

Consider data collection timelines

Take into account your desired data collection timeline. The amount of time you have to collect and analyze your data will sometimes determine what option you select.

Online surveys generally allow for rapid data collection and analysis, providing real-time insights. In-person surveys or telephone interviews may require more time for coordination and data collection. 

Consider whether your research objectives require immediate data or if a longer time frame is acceptable.

Assess response rates and data quality

Evaluate the potential response rates and data quality associated with each survey method. 

Online surveys can reach a larger audience, but response rates may vary depending on factors such as survey length, incentives, and target audience engagement. 

In-person surveys and telephone interviews may offer higher response rates but require more effort and resources to administer.

Combine multiple survey methods

Consider combining multiple survey methods to maximize data collection. 

For example, you can use an online survey as the primary method and supplement it with in-person or telephone interviews to gain deeper insights from a subset of respondents. 

Combining methods can help address limitations and provide a more comprehensive understanding of your target audience.

Pilot testing

Before launching your survey, conduct pilot testing to ensure its effectiveness and clarity. 

Test the survey with a small sample of your target audience to identify any issues with question wording, survey flow, or technical aspects. 

Pilot testing allows you to make necessary adjustments and refine your survey before full-scale deployment.

Ethical considerations

Always consider ethical considerations when conducting surveys. Ensure the privacy and confidentiality of respondents' data by implementing proper security measures. 

Provide clear information about the purpose of the survey, how the data will be used, and obtain informed consent from participants.

Ultimately, choosing the right survey method requires careful consideration of research objectives, target audience characteristics, budget, logistics, and data collection timelines. 

By assessing these factors and considering the trade-offs, you can select the optimal survey method that maximizes response rates, data quality, and ultimately provides valuable insights for your research or business needs.

How to design effective surveys 

There’s really no point to spending all that time crafting surveys if they’re not effective. That’s why you should put in the time to ensure they function as required. 

Here are the key steps to take in order to achieve this.

Set clear research objectives

Before starting your survey design, clearly define your research objectives. Identify the specific information you aim to gather and the insights you seek to obtain. 

Setting clear research objectives will guide the entire survey design process and ensure that your questions align with your goals.

Craft well-structured and concise survey questions

When formulating survey questions, strive for clarity and brevity. Use simple language and avoid jargon or technical terms that may confuse respondents. 

Each question should have a clear purpose and directly contribute to your research objectives. Avoid ambiguous or vague wording to prevent misunderstandings and ensure consistent interpretations of questions.

Choose appropriate question types

Selecting the appropriate question types is crucial for collecting the desired data effectively. Consider the nature of the information you seek and choose question types that best capture that data. Common question types include:

  • Multiple-Choice: Ideal for obtaining specific and quantifiable responses. Provide relevant answer options and consider including an "Other" or "None of the above" choice to account for diverse perspectives.
  • Rating Scale: Useful for measuring opinions, attitudes, or satisfaction levels. Utilize Likert scales or numerical scales with appropriate anchors to capture varying degrees of agreement, satisfaction, or preference.
  • Open-Ended: Provide space for respondents to provide detailed, qualitative responses. These questions allow for in-depth explanations and uncover insights beyond predefined options. However, open-ended questions require more time and effort to analyze.

Avoid biased and leading questions

Ensure that your survey questions are unbiased and neutral to obtain objective responses. Avoid leading questions that may influence or steer respondents towards a specific answer. 

Instead, use neutral language and present options or questions in a balanced manner. Consider pre-testing your survey with a sample audience to identify any potential biases or leading language.

Use skip logic and branching

Skip logic and branching allow you to personalize surveys and tailor questions based on respondents' previous answers. 

This feature improves the survey experience by presenting relevant questions and reducing survey fatigue. 

Use skip logic to skip irrelevant questions or sections based on earlier responses, ensuring that respondents only encounter questions applicable to them.

Test and refine your survey design

Before distributing your survey, conduct thorough testing and refinement. Test your survey with a small group of participants from your target audience to identify any usability issues, ambiguities, or confusing questions. 

Evaluate the survey flow, question sequence, and overall user experience. Based on feedback and test results, make necessary adjustments and refinements to enhance the survey's effectiveness.

Consider mobile responsiveness

In today's digital age, many respondents complete surveys on mobile devices. Data shows that between 30-40% of respondents complete surveys on their smartphones.

Ensure that your survey design is mobile-responsive and displays well across various screen sizes and orientations. 

Optimizing your survey for mobile devices improves accessibility, user experience, and response rates.

Provide clear instructions and context

Include clear instructions at the beginning of the survey to guide respondents through the process. 

Explain the purpose of the survey, assure confidentiality, and estimate the time required to complete it. Additionally, provide context for each question when necessary. 

Contextual information helps respondents understand the relevance and importance of specific questions, leading to more accurate responses.

Consider survey length:

Lastly, respect respondents' time by keeping your survey concise. Long surveys can lead to respondent fatigue, decreased engagement, and higher dropout rates. 

Prioritize essential questions and eliminate unnecessary ones. If a longer survey is necessary, consider dividing it into sections with progress indicators to give respondents a sense of completion.

This could also mean putting the most important questions first so that they receive responses while users are still fresh and interested.

Where can you post your survey questions? 

Even after designing the perfect survey, you’re not done. You still have to deploy it in the right places that ensure maximum engagement. 

By strategically selecting platforms and channels, you can increase visibility, attract your target audience, and encourage participation. 

Here are a few places you can consider.

Social media platforms

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram offer a vast user base and the potential for viral reach. 

Leverage your brand's social media accounts to post survey questions and engage with your audience. Craft compelling captions or posts that clearly communicate the purpose of the survey and encourage participation. 

Consider using relevant hashtags to increase visibility and reach a wider audience. Engage with respondents by responding to their comments and fostering conversations around the survey.

Online forums and communities

Identify online forums and communities that align with your target audience and research objectives. 

Platforms like Reddit, Quora, and niche-specific forums can provide valuable insights from knowledgeable and engaged users. Although be sure to respect community guidelines and ensure your survey questions are relevant to the community's interests. 

Craft thoughtful and engaging posts that clearly explain the purpose of the survey and invite users to participate. Engage in conversations and discussions related to your survey topic to build rapport and generate interest.

Email campaigns

Leverage your existing email list to reach out to your audience directly. Craft a concise and compelling email explaining the purpose of the survey and the value of their participation. 

Personalize the email by addressing recipients by name and highlighting the benefits of taking part in the survey. Include a clear call-to-action button or link that directs recipients to the survey. Consider incentivizing participation by offering a reward or entry into a prize draw.

Source. Alt text: “Example of a survey delivered by email from Airbnb.”

Website landing pages

Promote your survey on your website by creating dedicated landing pages. 

Design an eye-catching banner or pop-up that grabs visitors' attention and encourages them to participate in the survey. 

Provide a clear and concise overview of the survey's purpose, the estimated time commitment, and any incentives offered. Place the survey link prominently on the landing page to ensure easy access. 

Consider using exit-intent pop-ups to capture the attention of users who are about to leave your website.

Professional networks

If your survey is targeting professionals or specific industries, consider posting survey questions on professional networks such as LinkedIn or industry-specific platforms. 

Join relevant groups or communities, and engage in conversations related to your survey topic. When appropriate, share your survey questions with the group members, ensuring they align with the group's guidelines and interests. 

Networking with professionals in your field can result in high-quality responses and valuable insights.

Collaborations and partnerships

Consider partnering with other organizations, influencers, or complementary brands to promote your survey. 

Collaborative efforts can extend your reach and expose your survey to new audiences. Engage with potential partners who have a similar target audience or share a common interest. 

Explore opportunities for cross-promotion, guest blogging, or co-branded campaigns to increase visibility and credibility.

Offline channels

Don't overlook the potential of offline channels to reach specific audiences. 

If your target audience is localized or has limited online presence, consider distributing paper-based surveys at events, conferences, trade shows, or within physical locations such as stores or community centers. 

Ensure the survey instructions are clear, provide a return or submission mechanism, and consider offering incentives to increase participation.

Mobile apps

If your survey is compatible with mobile devices, explore opportunities to post survey questions on relevant mobile apps. Identify popular apps or platforms that align with your target audience's interests and preferences. 

Explore partnerships with app developers or consider advertising within relevant mobile apps to maximize exposure and engagement.

Remember to tailor your approach based on your target audience and research objectives. Engage with respondents, respond to their questions, and aim to make the experience as interactive as possible for them.

How to maximize survey response rates 

Something you’ll come across often in surveys is the term “statistical significance”. 

According to the Harvard Business Review, “statistical significance helps quantify whether a result is likely due to chance or to some other factor of interest.”

As it applies to surveys, it means that you should collect enough data from respondents to validate your hypothesis. Getting a high response rate is crucial for obtaining accurate and representative data from your survey. 

Some strategies you can apply to maximize your response rates include:

Writing compelling survey invitations and reminders

Craft compelling survey invitations and reminders to grab the attention of your target audience. 

There are many ways to do this. For example, making your CTA look like a button can boost clicks by 45%. Other tactics like leaving white space around the CTA or even serving your survey invite early can help.

Clearly communicating the purpose of the survey, emphasizing the value of their participation, and highlighting how their responses will contribute to meaningful insights or improvements will also produce great results.

The bottom line is that attractive invites and CTAs can do wonders for your response rate. So spend sufficient time crafting a worthy survey invite.

Offering incentives and rewards

Incentives are a powerful motivator. And they can be extremely effective when used in surveys. 

Statistics indicate that offering rewards can entice as many as 50% more people to take your survey. Companies that offer incentive programs also report that they achieve their goals at a 79% success rate.

Therefore, to boost engagement with your survey, consider offering small incentives such as discounts, vouchers, or entries into prize draws. 

The incentives should be relevant to your target audience and provide genuine value. Communicate the incentives prominently in your survey invitations and reminders to motivate respondents to take part.

Ensuring user-friendly survey interfaces

Create a user-friendly survey interface that is easy to navigate and visually appealing. 

Use clear and intuitive instructions to guide respondents through the survey. Keep the survey layout clean and uncluttered, ensuring that questions and response options are easy to read and select. 

Optimize your survey for mobile devices to accommodate respondents who prefer taking surveys on their smartphones or tablets.

Leveraging multiple channels for promotion

Utilize multiple channels to promote your survey and reach a wider audience. 

Besides email invitations, consider leveraging social media platforms, online forums, websites, and professional networks to spread the word about your survey. 

Craft tailored messages for each channel, highlighting the benefits and incentives to engage different audiences effectively.

Personalizing survey invitations

Personalization can significantly increase response rates. In fact, 83% of consumers will share their data with you in exchange for a personalized experience.

Ways you can personalize surveys include addressing recipients by name in the survey invite, reminding them of their previous interactions or relationship with your brand, or linking the survey invite to one of their pain points. 

Personalization creates a sense of importance and connection, increasing the likelihood of participation.

Using social proof

Leverage the power of social proof to encourage survey participation. 

Highlight the number of people who have already taken the survey or include testimonials from previous respondents who found value in participating. 

Social proof signals that the survey is worth their time and that others have found it beneficial.

Keeping the survey short and focused

Long and time-consuming surveys often deter respondents. Keep your survey short and focused by including only essential questions that directly relate to your research objectives. 

Prioritize questions that yield the most valuable insights. Consider using skip logic or branching to personalize the survey experience further and ensure respondents only encounter relevant questions.

Communicating time commitment

Be transparent about the estimated time required to complete the survey. Communicate the approximate length of the survey in your invitations and reminders. 

Respecting respondents' time and providing realistic expectations help manage their willingness to participate.

Sending surveys at the right time

Consider the timing of your survey distribution. Avoid sending surveys during busy periods or holidays when people may have limited availability or be less inclined to participate. 

Identify the best times to reach your target audience based on their habits and routines. A well-timed survey is more likely to capture respondents' attention and encourage them to participate.

Following up with non-responders

For those who have not responded to your initial survey invitations, consider sending polite and non-intrusive follow-up reminders. 

Remind them of the survey's purpose, highlight the incentives, and emphasize the importance of their input. Keep the follow-up messages concise and respectful, allowing respondents an additional opportunity to participate.

How to analyze and interpret survey data 

So you’ve designed and administered your survey. Now, it’s time to make sense of the data you’ve collected. How do you go about this?

The following steps will help.

Prepare and clean the data

Before diving into analysis, ensure that your survey data is clean and organized. Remove any duplicate or incomplete responses, and check for data entry errors. 

Assign numeric codes or categories to qualitative responses for easier analysis. Ensure that all variables and responses are properly labeled and structured for accurate interpretation.

Use descriptive statistics

Descriptive statistics provide an overview of the survey data and summarize the main characteristics of the variables. 

Calculate measures such as mean, median, mode, range, and standard deviation to understand central tendencies, variability, and distribution patterns. 

Visualize the data using charts, graphs, and tables to make it more accessible and easier to interpret.

Conduct comparative analysis

Perform comparative analysis to identify patterns, trends, and relationships within the survey data. 

Compare responses across different demographic groups, such as age, gender, or location, to uncover potential insights. 

Look for significant differences or similarities in responses that can provide valuable insights into the preferences, behaviors, or opinions of specific segments of your target audience.

Utilize inferential statistics

Inferential statistics allow you to make inferences or draw conclusions about a larger population based on the survey data. 

Use techniques such as hypothesis testing, correlation analysis, or regression analysis to identify relationships between variables, determine statistical significance, and make predictions. 

Consult with a statistician if needed to ensure accurate interpretation of statistical results.

Data visualization

Visualize survey data using charts, graphs, and infographics to present findings in a visually appealing and easy-to-understand format. 

Choose appropriate visual representations based on the nature of the data and the insights you want to communicate. Visuals like bar charts, pie charts, line graphs, and heat maps can effectively highlight key patterns and trends.

Extract meaningful insights

Look beyond the numbers and identify meaningful insights from the survey data. Look for recurring themes, patterns, or outliers that provide deeper understanding of the research objectives. 

Pay attention to unexpected findings or contradictory responses that may require further investigation or exploration.

Consider qualitative responses

If your survey includes open-ended questions or qualitative responses, analyze them separately. 

Conduct thematic analysis to identify common themes or recurring topics. Categorize and code responses to gain a comprehensive understanding of respondents' opinions, experiences, or suggestions. 

Include qualitative insights alongside quantitative data to provide a more holistic view of the survey findings.

Contextualize findings

Interpret the survey data within the context of your research objectives and the broader industry or market landscape. 

Consider external factors, industry trends, or historical data to provide context for your findings. Relate the survey results to your business goals or research objectives to derive actionable insights.

Communicate findings clearly

Present your survey findings in a clear and concise manner to facilitate understanding and decision-making. 

Prepare a comprehensive report or presentation that includes an executive summary, key findings, data visualizations, and actionable recommendations. 

Use language that is accessible to the intended audience, avoiding jargon or technical terms when possible.

Validate findings

Validate your survey findings by triangulating the data with other sources of information. Consider supplementing the survey data with secondary research, customer feedback, or market trends to ensure robust and reliable insights. 

Cross-referencing data from multiple sources helps strengthen the validity and credibility of your findings, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the research topic.

Identify key takeaways

Identify the key takeaways and implications of your survey findings. Summarize the main findings and their significance in relation to your research objectives.

Consider how the insights can inform decision-making, strategy development, or improvements in your products, services, or customer experience. 

Clearly articulate the practical implications of the survey findings to drive actionable outcomes.

Iterate and continuously learn

Surveys are an iterative process, and continuous learning is essential for improvement. Reflect on your survey design, analysis, and interpretation process. 

Assess the strengths and limitations of your approach and identify areas for improvement. Incorporate feedback and lessons learned into future survey initiatives to enhance the quality and effectiveness of your research.

Remember to remain objective, critically evaluate the data, and consider the limitations and potential biases in your survey methodology. With a systematic and thoughtful approach, you can leverage the power of survey data to drive meaningful outcomes and improvements in your organization


Done well, surveys can help you uncover valuable insights. By following these best practices, you can effectively analyze and interpret survey data, uncover valuable insights, and make data-driven decisions. 

So, you now have all you need to start creating kick ass surveys.

Ivan Shumaylov
Growth marketer at Marquiz
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