10 simple steps to creating a high quality survey using SurveyMonkey
SurveyMonkey launched in 1999 and opened the door to anyone wanting to run a survey, but without the budget to engage a market
research company to do it for them. Today,
20 million questions are asked daily via the platform, enabling individuals and
companies to gather huge volumes of data to help them make better decisions.
However, if you are a non-researcher running a survey yourself,
there is a danger of missteps, meaning that incorrect conclusions or claims
could be made, and decisions made based on a flawed survey approach or question
design. So, you need to know how to create a
survey using SurveyMonkey. This article
helps you to understand the key considerations when creating a survey in
SurveyMonkey, both in terms of design and practicality.
Following these ten steps you'll be able to create a Survey
Monkey survey that is robust and meets your business objectives, considers the
respondent experience and ensures the process is efficient.
You might wonder “is SurveyMonkey free?”. The answer is definitely “yes”, though
SurveyMonkey very cleverly presents you with all their features, whether or not
you have the free or paid licence. For
some, you know up-front that they are paid-for, with some questionnaire
templates only being accessible via the paywall. For others, it allows you to use them in your
questionnaire development, but letting you know before launch that you are
using some paid features and asking you to either pay or change them to
non-paid for features. This can be a
little irritating if you’ve inadvertently used a lot of them!
You can still get a lot out of the tool even if you just
want to create a free Survey Monkey survey. If you are a small business wanting to send out simple customer
experience or other surveys, then you can definitely squeeze the maximum out of
the free plan. However, if you are part
of a larger business wanting to undertake in-house research using this powerful
tool, you should seriously consider the cost-effective paid-plan which
unlocks functionality that can save you hours on design and analysis.
The following are key restrictions or limitations of the free SurveyMonkey
plan, not all of which are obvious from the get-go:
Essentially, if you are a business doing regular surveys, the experience of designing, deploying and analysing your survey will be a lot
easier if you pay. However, if you don’t
have the budget and only have a small customer base, you can still get a lot
out of SurveyMonkey – you’ll just have to be more thoughtful about how to write
your questions and your analysis will take longer as you cannot export the data
to view it outside the tool (useful for coding open-ended questions, for
Below are just a few examples of situations where conducting
market research can be useful, but any situation where you want to
collect some data from a group of individuals can make use of SurveyMonkey. Whatever your goal, SurveyMonkey has a massive database of survey types
and survey questions for you to choose from, such as:
It’s very tempting to dive straight in and start writing
questions, but before doing so, you need to be very clear on your objectives
for the survey. It’s important to keep
your questionnaire short, to avoid respondent fatigue or worse, people not
bothering to answer the questions properly just so they can get to the
end. The good news is that once you have
your objectives, SurveyMonkey offers many survey templates to help you write your survey, so you don’t have to have detailed knowledge of how to
structure or write surveys in many cases.
Who are you going to send this survey to? If it’s existing customers, great, you can
email them the survey link. But if you
are looking to get opinions about a new product, you will need to get your
survey in front of people you don’t already know.
If you want to understand what the general population is
thinking, you need to interview a cross-section of that population, with a
similar profile of gender, age, and possibly region. The sample size should also be large enough
to be ‘statistically significant’ so that the data you generate is robust, reliable and representative.
SurveyMonkey also offers a panel service where you can
select your target audience and market, and they will do the rest, fielding the
survey amongst respondents and delivering back your completed surveys. Note that this feature is very inexpensive
for the USA compared to some other target markets. Click on the ‘buy targeted responses’ button
for their easy-to-use selection wizard.
The SurveyMonkey user interface is very helpful, enabling you to design, launch and analyse your
survey. Even with the free version, you
can write a full questionnaire that you can launch via your own channels.
Whilst you need to have your survey in mind when getting
started with SurveyMonkey, you don’t actually have to have your whole
questionnaire written, because of the large volume of pre-designed templates and
individual questions available (some free, some paid). Indeed, you’ll rarely have to come up with a
question from scratch. And if you
already have your questionnaire, you can also import the text using a
simple-to-use tool so you don’t have to copy/paste each individual question and
Take care though – it’s almost too easy to launch a survey
straight from a template without really thinking about how you will use that
data and whether it’s exactly right for your needs.
For every question you ask in your survey, you should know how
to analyse the data from SurveyMonkey and use it to make decisions, or it
is a waste of time and money. For closed
ended (pre-coded) questions, this is fairly straightforward as you can quote
percentages, create charts which assist in drawing conclusions. For open-ended questions, it’s not quite so
straightforward, but it’s worth using them given these top
10 benefits of open-ended survey questions.
Open-ended questions can also give you double-the-data, in
the sense that you can read the open-ended questions for that deep insight at
an individual level, and depending on how you’ve collected the data, even
follow up where you have an unhappy customer. And you can also code the data to enable you to quantify the
themes being talked about, and by different sub-groups. Bear in mind that in order to code the data,
you need the paid SurveyMonkey plan, either to export the data to other
dedicated coding platforms such as codeit,
or to use their own simple categorisation ‘tagging’ tool and word clouds.
Don’t forget to try out your survey yourself and ask a few
other people for feedback – you’ll definitely spot the odd typo and also discover if
any of your questions don’t make sense or route people to questions they don’t
need to answer.
SurveyMonkey has impressive functionality to help you get
your survey in front of people in the right way for them.
The tool has the concept of ‘collectors’ – links and tools
that enable you to collect your data from a particular source, for example,
social media or your website. If you are
on the free plan you can choose up to three collectors from a limited list,
when paid it’s unlimited.
Most these are self-explanatory but it’s worth setting up
the right ones so that your survey displays well.
As mentioned above, if you don’t have access to your target
audience through your own lists or sources, you can buy targeted responses to
Once you have collected a few responses, you should go in
and check the quality of your data to make sure the data you're gathering makes sense. You can do this via the
‘analyse results’ tab where you can view individual responses.
Once you’ve reached your target number of responses, you are
ready to analyse and present your results. Even on the free plan, you can use their built-in charts and tools to
display your data results.
Remember, if you want to code your open-ended responses, you
can use the (paid for) basic in-built ‘tagging’ tool to classify the answers, or
if you want a more powerful and efficient tool, you’ll need to use a dedicated coding platform such as codeit.
Overall, SurveyMonkey is a fantastic tool for those who want
to create good quality surveys but don’t have the budget to use a market
research agency. Nevertheless, careful thought up-front will ensure you get the
most out of your survey, both in terms of quality responses and maximising the
analysis options available.
you’d like to give codeit a go, you can take up their 30
day free trial
to help you start coding and analysing your open-ended question data today.
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