- Inform respondents of the what, why, who, and how. Tell respondents as much information about what your survey is asking, why you are asking it, who will see the results, and how you will use the results. Discuss how respondents will benefit from the results and how you will put the findings into action (and then be sure to follow through on your promises).
- Address confidentiality and anonymity. If the survey results will be confidential and/or anonymous, make sure respondents know this. If respondents know their answers will not be linked to them in any way, they will be more likely to respond and more likely to provide truthful responses.
- Keep it brief. Keep the survey as short as possible, but do not make it so short that you do not get any valuable information from it. Also, tell people how much time the survey will take to complete so they know what to expect.
- Set a deadline. When you send out the initial survey notice, be sure to include a date by which people must respond. Ideally, your survey should be available from 7 to 10 days. If it is less than 7 days, people might not find the time to respond. If it is longer than 10 - 14 days, your request will get forgotten in their in-box.
- Send reminders. Send a reminder email to respondents a few days before the survey is set to end. Be sure to re-state the what, why, who, and how in the reminder email.
- Follow up. After the survey is complete, be sure to thank the respondents and follow up with them if you told them you would do so. Consider this an investment in the future. If you let people know that their time was not wasted, they will be more willing to respond to your surveys in the future.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Knowing is half the battle
Those of us from a certain era in the 1980s -- when it was OK to sell kids toys with a 30-minute violence-riddled cartoon, provided you had an educational message tagged onto the end -- remember that headline from the closing of G.I. Joe cartoon. Strikingly, I find myself using it here to introduce a discussion about member data. Many associations don't know much about their members, yet we need questions answered like: What is the perceived value of your association's programs? Are your members just satisfied or are they loyal (there is a difference)? What do your members need from their association? How do they want it delivered? In Seven Measures of Success, the American Society of Association Executives identified data-driven organizations are more successful than associations that do not put an emphasis on collecting, analyzing and using data and information. Drake & Company clients regularly survey members, industry and client customers to determine perceptions, successes, program results and other metrics. Although some clients use powerful tools and resources, such as Harris Interactive Polls, other clients have had success with free and inexpensive, readily available online survey tools such as Survey Monkey, Google Forms and online polls. We've even used Twitter polls in educational conferences. But if knowing is half the battle, the other half is gathering the information. How do we get members to complete online surveys? One DrakeCo client recently gave away a free iPod Shuffle to a selected participant. That survey, which helped the client retain a major corporate donor, had a 4 percent response rate, which I consider pretty good for an $80 investment. Here are some other tips for maximizing your response rate (via http://www.customer-feedback-surveys.net/maximize.asp):