9 Things to Do Before You Send Online Surveys

To collect valuable feedback, you have to ask for it the right way.. Before you send online surveys, check these to-dos off your list.


Chris Boeckelman

February 16, 2016

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There is little more valuable to a business than feedback from customers.

When you know what your customers want, you can cater your business decisions to them. Additionally, research shows that creating positive customer experiences pays off abundantly.

In fact, 55% of customers report they are willing to pay more for a guaranteed good experience. Similarly, 79% of customers will avoid a vendor for at least 2 years when encountered with a bad experience.

Your customers have valuable suggestions on how to create these positive experiences, and often they want to share ideas with you. This begs the question, “what is the best way to use my online survey to collect reliable data?”

You certainly want to do everything in your power to make sure your online survey is the perfect avenue to collect that helpful data. Here are some of our top suggestions for things to do before you send your next online survey in order to ensure that it is effective.

Before You Send Online Surveys…

1. Define your goal.

In Lewis Carroll’s classic book, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Cheshire Cat makes an insightful point.

“What road do I take?”

The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t know,” Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”

This quote is the perfect starting point, and should be the motto, for anyone looking to get feedback. Before you begin with anything, you need to know where you are going. In other words, you want to ask yourself the essential what/where/what/who/how questions. For example:

  • Why are you doing this survey?

  • What do you hope to learn more about?

  • Who is your target audience?

  • How will you use this data help improve your business?

Once your goals are defined, you’ll know what road to take.

2. Identify your audience.

There is little point of doing a survey if you haven’t clearly identified your target demographic. Before creating your survey, ask yourself:

  • Who is my target audience?

  • Do I have more than one demographic I need to send this survey to in order to get the information I need?

If you have more than one demographic, then you may consider writing separate surveys and segmenting your email lists. For example, if you are building a new app for a wide array of businesses, you may want feedback from smaller organizations as well as enterprises The questions you ask, and the way you word your survey will differ greatly for a small organization and enormous corporation. Small companies are probably concerned with ease of use, and low barrier to entry while large corporations are going to be concerned with things like security and centralized administration.

3. Plan your survey questions with precision.

It may not seem like it, but writing survey questions is often the hardest part of the online survey process.

There is actually a complicated science to writing accurate survey and test questions (think of the work that goes into preparing standardized tests), and there are whole research classes dedicated to the art of crafting questions.

If don’t have extensive experience in question writing, don’t panic! This is a skill that can be learned, and with a few tips, you’ll be well on your way to pumping out perfect questions. Here are some tips to help you write your questions.

  • Avoid ambiguous questions – Ambiguous questions can include questions like “where do you like to shop?” The respondent might be confused about how to answer. Do you mean shop for groceries? Shop for clothes? Shop for toys? etc.

  • Avoid leading questions – Leading questions sway the respondent. For example, “How was your experience with the epic concert at The Gallivan Center?” The word “epic” leads the reader/assumes the reader had an epic experience.

  • Avoid leading questions – Leading questions sway the respondent. For example, “How was your experience with the epic concert at The Gallivan Center?” The word “epic” leads the reader/assumes the reader had an epic experience.

  • Avoid loaded questions – Loaded questions makes an assumption about the respondent that might not be true. For example, “where do you go to school?” Some of your demographic may not be currently enrolled in school, or have ever attended school.

  • Avoid absolutes – Using words like “always” or “every” may skew your results. Use words like “often,” “most,” and “likely.”

  • Avoid double-barreled questions – Double-barreled questions are questions that ask more than one thing. For example, “how much did you like or dislike the food?” This type of wording confuses respondents and will leave them wondering “do I answer how much I liked it, or how much I disliked it?”

  • Write close-ended questions – Unless you are looking for additional ideas or personalized feedback, close-ended questions with pre-selected answers will be easier to analyze and draw conclusions from

Writing your questions is not exactly a cakewalk, but taking the time to get it right will save you time, money, and give you the answers you need to improve customer experiences.

4. Select a template and customize with your own branding.

survey templates - send online surveys

Once you have your questions written, it’s time for the fun stuff—designing your survey.

There are definitely pros and cons to different designs, and the better your design, the better chance you have of increasing your completion rate. Thankfully, GetFeedback makes it easy to create great looking surveys, so you don’t have to worry about learning what works best because a lot of the hard work has already been done for you.

Simply select the pre-designed template that you like most (or create your own with a custom background image you like), and then enter in your survey questions. You should also try to customize your survey with your own branding: add your logo, background, etc.

Sending a survey is a great opportunity to send your customers something that impresses them, and positively reflects your brand. So you should take the couple extra minutes to make sure everything looks good before you start your distribution.

5. Optimize for mobile.

mobile-friendly surveys - send online surveys

Smartphone usage is taking over the world. In 2014, the amount of people using a mobile device to access the internet surpassed those who prefer to use a desktop. This means if your goal is completed surveys, you better send out a survey that looks great on a mobile device.

This is a big focus of ours: to make it easy for you to create your survey once, and have it look great on smartphones, tablets and desktops with no extra work. You can just focus on your questions and we’ll do the rest.

6. Test your survey.

Before you send your survey, make sure you test it by having stakeholders, employees, and individuals not involved with your company take the survey. Then, ask each of them for feedback.

If your survey is particularly important, you may even want to consider doing a pilot test. This is where you send your survey to a small portion of your audience, before distributing it to everyone. It will help surface any potential problems you may have with your survey before you go big.

The process of testing will help you fine-tune your survey and fix any kinks so that your survey is well received and you get the best results.

7. Test your Salesforce survey mappings.

If you are planning on mapping your survey response to Salesforce, you should submit a few test responses to make sure the data is mapped properly. You will want to look for any missing data or information going into the wrong fields, and make sure you are updating or creating the right object.

Additionally, you should fill in as many fields as possible, so every record is complete. Check that you are pushing all the required fields through, and if you have fields that you try to always complete, like Lead Source, make sure to populate these using the ‘Fixed Value’ feature of our Salesforce integration.

We also recommend mapping over the link to the survey response whenever possible. This makes it really easy for anyone looking at the record in Salesforce to quickly view the person’s response. However, there are some cases where this doesn’t make sense, like with an employee survey, so make sure the information isn’t sensitive before including the response link in Salesforce.

8. Set up your email campaign and test your workflow/trigger.

Email is one of the best ways to send out your survey, especially if you already have a thriving subscriber list.

In the event that you have more than one survey, you are sending to different target demographics, it will be vital to segment your lists. This will help you send the right surveys to the right individuals.

With the help of email marketing software, like Campaign Monitor, you can easily segment your lists, select a proven email template, and automate your messaging.

Or you can create your email segments by creating various Salesforce reports, and using GetFeedback’s ‘Send to Salesforce Report’ feature to distribute your survey to your various segments.

If you are sending a triggered survey, like one after a support case closes, you will want to make sure the trigger is set up properly, and the email and survey look good and are correct. Simply go through whatever process you are triggering off of, make sure the email fires, everything from the email to the survey looks correct, and the responses map correctly.

9. Send your survey at the most optimal time.

Once you have taken the steps above to ensure your survey is perfect, the last step is to make sure you schedule your survey to go out at the most optimal time.

Studies show that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the best days to send a survey. Additionally, it’s best to send surveys after working hours. If you are not sure when the best time to send your survey out is, then this is a good rule of thumb.

And while this is a good general rule, it’s always important to remember that data can vary from company to company. If you already know when your respondents will most likely check their email and have time to respond, schedule your email then.


Your customers have a lot to say when it comes to how you run your company, and their feedback is always appreciated. If you follow the 9 steps above before you send out your survey, you ensure the data you’re getting is accurate, reliable, and helpful.

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