11 Best Practices for Successful Surveys

David Sonn
David Sonn President

Cartoon man typing on keyboard taking online surveyImage Source: Vimeo

With so many easy-to-use survey tools available (I list a couple below), creating one is super simple. However, getting people to complete them is far harder than every marketer expects.

Surveys are perceived as time drains that add little value and worse yet, scams to get contact info. If you’re planning a survey, take a few minutes to read these tips for a better chance at meaningful participation.

1. Incentives

The single best way to increase survey responses is to offer an incentive. Here are three options:

Valuable Learning:
For many B-to-B audiences, an effective incentive is the promise to carefully analyze the results and share them ONLY with those who participate. For this to work, the information must be beneficial to them and their businesses.

Offering a chance to win a valuable prize can entice many survey respondents. This can be anything from a hot device such as a new tablet, tickets to a premier event, or an advertising opportunity for high-level exposure. Be sure to set a fixed budget for the prizes, and consider offering multiple items to demonstrate greater chances to win.

Another option is to provide a discount on one of your products or services that is of value to the audience. This is most effective when everyone who takes the survey receives the discount, so be sure to budget appropriately.

10 additional best practices for successful surveys

  1. It is highly likely the survey will be viewed on a phone; Make sure it’s response design and easy to view on mobile devices
  2. Display the survey on a clean, uncluttered screen that identifies each stage to completion; No distracting images
  3. Keep it short (less than five minutes), and state upfront how little time will be needed
  4. Make sure the audience understands the purpose, value, and use of the survey results
  5. Make it instantly clear what company is asking the questions
  6. Clearly state your privacy policy and how you intend to share the participants’ information
  7. Take close consideration of the order of the questions, and make the first few very easy
  8. Write clear concise questions that get to the root of the information you seek, and include only one item per question
  9. Where possible, asked closed-ended questions
  10. Make sure the survey is presented only to your specific audience so that results are not skewed.

Free Survey Tools

To put these best practices to use, here are a couple survey tools to consider:

  • Survey Monkey – Provides really nice free and premium versions that make surveys easy and provide fantastic reporting
  • Google Forms – If you’re already in the world of Google docs, their survey solution via Forms is super easy.


I hope this helps you improve the participation rate and feedback quality of future surveys. For additional information, please visit our marketing consulting services page.