Recently the Vancouver Island Regional Library has been conducting a survey for a solid reason: they want to get feedback on their website. The survey currently includes questions regarding what people like best about their current website or where and if improvements could be made. I filled one out myself; it was very simple, and made me engaged with what I want to get most out of their services without making me feel like I was pressured into it.

It got me thinking about surveys for business in general. Marketing literally cannot be done without them, yet so many business owners don’t seem to know how to use this marketing tool properly. Like any tool, there is a right way and a wrong way to use surveys for your business. With that in mind, let’s go over how best to use surveys properly.

The Do’s of Surveys

VIRL’s survey works because it does the following:

  • It’s created for a good reason (potentially updating their website)
  • It’s getting people engaged; talking with them instead of to them (there is a big difference!)
  • It’s designed as an option to fill out, rather than forcing visitors to do so

These should all be the goal of a good survey for anyone looking to update their website, get feedback on their service, and so on. It’s also a great tool to use on social media and even in your e-mail newsletter (if you have a campaign set up, anyway). Some other great do’s include the following:

  • Do be regularly engaged with your customers before handing out surveys.
  • Do figure out the right questions you want to ask before sending out a survey.
  • Do be patient when conducting a survey—it takes time to receive feedback from customers and clients.
  • Do give people the option to fill it out online or in person.
  • Do try and get customer feedback in real life and real time too—digital is great but offline and online surveys combined may provide the best results.
  • Do explain to people in your survey why you’re conducting one.
  • Do design your survey so it talks with your customers rather than at them.
  • Do thank your customers for filling out the survey—keeping them engaged throughout the entire process is key.
  • Do get a professional’s help with designing or creating a survey if you’re not too sure yourself!

The Don’ts of Surveys

Like we said, when it comes to using marketing tools there are good ways and bad ways to use surveys. First and foremost, you should not treat your survey’s results as if they were gospel of what should be done differently for your business, whether it’s trying to update your website or get feedback on your products or services. While surveys are useful, they are far from perfect and if used improperly or not at all, the actions taken afterwards based exactly on the results could be disastrous.

Without further ado, here are the other ways in which you shouldn’t handle a survey:

  • Don’t decide right away to act on the results; really analyze what’s being told in them and look at the more objective feedback rather than simply good.
  • Don’t focus on your own answers or the numbers—focus on what people are saying in order to understand where improvements (if any) need to be made.
  • Don’t narrow your options too much after collecting the surveys.
  • Don’t surprise people with a survey—you may not get the results you need.
  • Don’t conduct a survey and then ignore the analysis process—it will be useless if action is not taken.

When it comes to surveys, they’re great for suggestion but less so for decision. Consultation with a professional is still the better option for making decisions and recommendations on things like website updates. If you need help with creating a survey or want to get a proper, professional recommendation on how your website can be improved, contact us at V3 Media. It doesn’t matter where you are, we’re willing to come to you if necessary!