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Successful Surveys: 10 Tips for Better Results

By: Kathy Gulrich

Why would you use an email or online survey when you could simply call your clients and customers and ask for their input?

Lots of reasons.

And have you figured out how long it would take to have 100 fifteen-minute conversations instead? (I don't have to do the math to know that it's WAY too long!)

So in this article, I'm going to talk surveys. How to find them, how to do them, and how to make the most of your results. Here goes....

1 - Clarify Your Objectives
What's your reason for doing the survey?

You might want to get your clients' input on your products and services, let them know you really care about what they think, or learn what keeps them up at night. (Or anything in between....)

Before you start, be very clear about what you'd like to accomplish. Then, be sure that each question on your survey will get you a step closer to your goal.

2 - Choose a Survey Company
You can write and produce your survey yourself, or (easier) use one of the many companies out there that provide survey services.

These services come at a variety of prices (from free to quite expensive), and with a variety of options (from basic to quite extensive).

Zip around the web a bit to find what's out there, and what seems most appropriate for what you're doing. In your wanderings, you may want to check out:

3 - Keep it Short
Most often, we're asking survey recipients to do us a favor by filling out our survey - even if the information we gather will help them, longer term.

So be respectful of their time by keeping your survey short (no more than 10 questions, unless absolutely necessary) - and easy to fill out and return.

The easier it is do complete, the more responses you're likely to get.

4 - Mix It Up
Most automated surveys allow for lots of different types of questions, including:

Try to mix up your question format to keep it interesting. Lots of essay-type questions often seem "too hard" for respondents. Conversely, all multiple choice questions can get a bit boring.

5 - Get it Out There
Sometimes you'll want to limit your survey to a particular group: your clients, people who have bought your book or participated in a particular teleclass, your newsletter subscribers, etc.

Often, you'll be looking for responses from a much broader audience, say, self-employed individuals over 50, or all coaches in North America. In this case, you may want to email the survey link to your list, and ask recipients to forward the survey to anyone they know who fits your category. (You'll want to give them a compelling reason to do so!)

6 - Make Course Corrections
One of the great things about most surveys (Survey Monkey is a great example) is that you can pop in and look at results as they come in.

Here's why that's important: If the answers you're getting don't answer your questions in the way you expected, you'll have the opportunity to revise your survey, on the spot. Revise a question ... replace it ... change the order ... integrate something you learned from a respondent ... add something you forgot.

Get in there, see what's happening, and make course corrections if necessary.

7 - Analyze Results
Once all the answers have come in, look at them carefully. What does the "quantitative" data tell you? Slice and dice the numbers to learn all you can from the responses you get.

If you use a survey service that offers them, check your data in different formats, from pie charts to graphs.

And just as importantly, what "qualitative" information comes through?

8 - Use Results to Improve Your Business

One thing I've learned over the years is that people don't always do what they "say" they're going to do on surveys! And in that sense, surveys can be misleading.

In terms of trends, directions, feelings, interests, etc., however, results tend to be pretty accurate.

Net net?

Proceed boldly, but with caution. (Always test before you make a BIG leap!)

9 - Use the Report as a Special Offer

Let's face it, humans are pretty curious. We send in our answers to a survey or questionnaire, and then wonder what all the OTHER people had to say.

Capitalize on this curiosity! You can:

10 - Use Surveys Often
They're easy. They give us tons of helpful information. Our clients enjoy them. They're often free. They give us practically real-time answers.

Let's face it ... a survey is a terrific tool, and if you haven't yet, I hope you'll give one a try soon.

Author Bio
Best-selling author Kathy Gulrich helps clients get from idea, to action, to results - more quickly, and more easily - whether they're looking to write a book, develop a new product, or market their product or business. Clients love her direct, no-nonsense approach - and her gentle insistence on great results. Find out for yourself: Check out one of Kathy's teleclasses, or pick up a free worksheet, at

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