With the wide range of free online survey software available today, you will have no trouble finding something to help you gauge the priorities or satisfaction levels of your target customers. But finding the software is the easy part: what matters is that you spend time designing it carefully in order to obtain the most accurate market research possible.
In order to do this there are several steps you can follow, for example:
Define Your Goals: Before your write the questionnaire itself it’s a good idea to do some preliminary research. Be clear about the kind of information you want from your survey: are you testing the market for possible new areas of product development, for example, or are you looking for a more general picture of how your company is perceived and what customers want? What will you be doing with this information once you have it? Once you know the answer to these questions you will find it easier to target your survey accordingly.
Finding Your Target Audience: One you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to identify the target audience for your survey. If you want to know how you have been performing over the past year, then you’ll probably want to contact existing customers. In this case, you can use your mailing list. If, on the other hand, you want to test the market for future development possibilities then you will have to broaden the scope a bit and find other ways of getting your survey out there. You will also need to know the age and demographic of your audience as this will determine how you word your questions.
Writing Questions: It’s important that the questions you use are straightforward, unambiguous and encourage concise answers. This is for two reasons: first you want them to be simple for people to answer so they are more likely to complete the survey; secondly, you want to make it easy to analyse afterwards. Bear in mind that you are looking to produce some usable data, not gather a series of carefully-written essays on your company’s strengths or failings. For this reason, questions should also be organised in a logical way; for example, you can group them around specific themes if there are a lot of them. Also, people prefer to answer questions about their own experiences so your survey should always be relatable if possible.
Simple Layout: It is not just the questions but the formatting of the survey itself that needs to be clear and simple. Most free online survey software will allow you to customise the look of the final product so you should make the most of this feature. Leave plenty of white space between each question so they don’t run into each other and don’t be tempted to use too many colours.