Researchers use surveys to enter the mind of the consumer. They should be clear, concise, and provide the information necessary to provide relevant and impactful data. Survey design is definitely not a process you want to rush — it is imperative that every question included in a survey be well thought out and relevant to the end goals of the research.
Like many things in event marketing research, there is no one-size-fits-all survey, but I believe there are three basic question types all successful surveys have.
1. Objective-Focused Questions
Before survey design is started, the event marketing research objectives should be clearly defined. Any question included in any survey should relate directly back to a research objective.
An easy way to ensure your survey has does this is to take each question in your survey and align it with an objective. I find this process to be particularly helpful when multiple people are responsible for survey design.
I mention this no-brainer because in my experience as a researcher, questions are sometimes recommended to be included because someone is “interested” in the response. Questions should not be asked because they are interesting, but because they help measure the impact and success of a program defined by clearly designed research objectives.
Veering from this path can be risky – you can be left with a survey that is too long, confusing, and worst of all, leave you with data that you haven’t the faintest idea what to do with.
2. Demographic Questions
Good surveys ask questions that help identify the people who responded to the survey.
Nine out of ten times, an event marketing program will have a target consumer group they are trying to reach, and questions that provide demographic information will help separate this group from the rest.
At the bare minimum, I believe all surveys should identify gender and age. Other common demographic questions I’ve utilized include
- Employment Status
- Household Income
- Marital Status
- Number of Children Under 18 in Household
Demographic questions need to be carefully considered because people are sensitive to them. People in general are private by nature and can be skeptical or flat out insulted about questions like this.
One of my favorite examples: a woman might be offended if you ask “How old are you?”, but they will often answer the question “What year were you born?” proudly.
It is important that demographic questions are not collected for the sake of collecting them, but to help segment groups into actionable segments that link directly back to the research objectives designed during planning.
3. Segmentation Questions
A good survey allows for easy manipulation of the data into pertinent groups that will help the research team report actionable insights to the client team. These can be questions that are answered by the consumer (demographic or psychographic-type questions) or by the person who administered the survey.
To provide further detail, administrative questions are questions the consumer may not be able to answer, but are important to the research. Common administrative questions help identify the type of experience the consumer participated in and the location of the experience.
Similar to demographic questions, segmentation questions shouldn’t be asked for the sake of asking but must be useful to the researcher.
Whatever questions you decide to use in your event marketing survey, remember they should be well thought out and provide information that will be needed to run relevant and insightful analyses.
Surveys are like snowflakes (no two are alike), but in my experience the best surveys include specific groupings of questions.
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