Customer surveys can yield useful results, but getting people to actually respond to a survey can be tricky.

The average response rate for a customer survey hovers between 10-15 percent, according to SurveyGizmo. But you don’t want to settle for “average” do you? Of course not.

To help you create a survey that customers will respond to, we asked Justin Melnick, senior brand strategist at Brownstein Group, an ad agency in Philadelphia, to help us create a list of tips to boost your success rate.

1. Have a goal in mind
Before creating a survey, it’s important to have a defined goal. What do you want the survey to accomplish? The answer shouldn’t be vague like “to learn what customers want” it should be more defined. For example, “creating a survey to learn how to improve customer satisfaction during online purchases” is a focused goal.

2. Decide how to conduct the survey
Will you conduct the survey on Facebook, send it out via email or host it on your website? You can use multiple channels to capture a larger audience. Here are a few tools to help:
SurveyMonkey. Tool to create and email surveys.
SurveyGizmo. Survey tool that allows for embedded pictures and videos.
Polldaddy. Embed polls on websites and apps.

3. Offer an incentive
Offering incentives is nothing new in the marketing world. Dangling a little carrot is an easy to way to get participation, Melnick says.

What incentives work best? Monetary incentives provide higher response rates than gifts, according to Stanford research. A small percentage taken off monthly subscriptions fees, a $5 gift card or coupons are good ideas.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a monetary incentive, but it should be useful.

“Make your incentive something that will appeal to the customer and their interests,” Melnick says. “Know your audience first to make sure the incentive you are offering is something they’d want to use.”

Adding points to loyalty programs or making a contribution to a charity are other options.

4. Create specific, closed-ended questions
Write specific questions that provide answers to meet your goal. Don’t toss in any extra questions. Stay on point.

You also want to ask closed-ended questions. In other words, questions that have a specific answer. It’s easier to tabulate results this way. Open-ended questions can be helpful, but can be cumbersome to collect and boil down into useful information.

5. Use the right language
A well-written survey feels like a conversation. Use a conversational tone with personal and grateful words. For example, use “you” when referring to your audience and make respondents feel appreciated.

It’s okay to give your customers a little ego boost too. When you ask them to fill out the survey, refer to them as “loyal customers,” and thank them for participating. Explain how valuable they are to your business.

6. Explain the survey’s purpose
Tell people why you’re doing the survey, and what it will help your brand accomplish.

“Be very honest in your initial contact with prospective survey takers,” Melnick says. “Clearly explain why the survey is important and why you value their feedback.”

7. Survey should be quick and easy to complete
Make it easy for your audience to access and take the survey. It should not require too much work on their part.

The survey should take five minutes or less. If it’s absolutely necessary, it can be a little longer, but anything over 11 minutes gets significant abandonment rates, according to do-it-yourself survey site, SurveyMonkey.

8. Send reminders
Remind your customers to take the survey. Send a reminder email once the poll is ready, post a link to it on your social sites and create a blog post about the survey and its importance to increase response rates.

Have you created a survey with great response rates? Offer your tips in the comment section below.

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