December 3, 2018

How to create a marketing questionnaire that gets the right answers

content marketing questionnaire that gets the right answers

People have been using questionnaires for a long time now. Sometime in the 1930s, researchers went from door to door to get people to take questionnaire in surveys. So why has this trend stuck around even in the 21st century?

For starters, questionnaires are easy to read and consume. They also don’t demand much from you when it comes to crafting the questions and interpreting the responses. If it weren’t for them, you would be solely dependent on studying your consumers’ behaviour and requirements through relevant KPIs. And that is guaranteed to take up more of your time and resources.

Given their cost-efficiency, questionnaires are also an ideal choice for small businesses. But most importantly, they’re one of the quickest ways to seek answers from your target audience.

Where, then, lies the drawback of using them? It is as Gloria Green and Jeffrey Williams explain in their book Marketing: Mastering Your Small Business:

“Questionnaire construction is one of the most difficult steps in marketing research. Yet, many people seem to think putting together a good questionnaire is easy. That’s why there are so many terrible questionnaires – full of confusing or incomprehensible questions all but guaranteed to produce worthless results.” 

But we’ve got you sorted. Here are a few ways of coming close to creating the perfect questionnaire:

1. Order

Pay attention to the order in which you put forth questions. You don’t want to start with the complex ones. Try building a story through your questionnaire, especially if it isn’t a short one. This will keep participants interested and at the same time ease them into the trickier questions.

For example, start with some comfortable screening questions – such as their name, gender, etc. Eventually, move to something like how many hours a day they use their mobile phones and then whether or not they use voice searches.

2. Language and tone

Language matters, no matter how simple or detailed your questionnaire is. This is especially important when you are creating a marketing survey where you need data for certain metrics without sounding too technical.

A conversational or friendly tone can help, but remember to keep the language of the questions as simple and clear as possible.

3. Questionnaire design

While choosing a design for your questionnaire, take a subtle approach and just adopt your brand’s colour scheme. If you plan to get more creative, bear in mind that you don’t want to distract people from the survey.

For example, with a marketing questionnaire, you can use social media icons as answer options for a question like ‘Which is your most used social media platform?’ But again, depending on the type of questions and the answers you expect, choose smartly as to what can be made a little jazzy and what needs to remain simple.

4. Question types

Decide on the type of questions depending on the purpose of your questionnaire. You can choose a simple multiple-choice format, questions that need a more elaborate answer, or a mix of both types.

For example, something like ‘Which of these social media platforms do you spend the most time on?’ doesn’t require a detailed answer. But a question like ‘What are your thoughts on ads that attempt to establish an emotional connect?’ demands one.

The benefit of asking open-ended questions is the reduced possibility of leading on the participant. Moreover, people may answer with motivations different from what is expected. Close-ended questions often restrict participants to a limited set of responses.

To understand open and close-ended questions in greater detail, read this piece.

5. Answer types

Radio buttons or checkboxes? Text boxes with or without a limit? These aren’t difficult decisions but choosing the right answer type is important. While you don’t want to burden participants by asking for a detailed answer for every question, you also want an elaborate opinion where required.

For example, ‘How often do you use Twitter?’ can have radio buttons in the answer with different time ranges as options. On the other hand, ‘Would you want to change some aspect of Twitter’s interface?’ requires an answer which shouldn’t be limited to ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. Another answer type here can be ‘If yes, name a few features’.

6. Defining terms

If you think your questionnaire contains industry jargon or other terms people might not be aware of, always include their definitions.

When people fill your survey, they shouldn’t feel the need to look up words in a dictionary. Moreover, participants may just stop answering your questionnaire if they come across terms they’re not familiar with.

For example, if you have prepared a marketing questionnaire featuring the question ‘Have you seen organic listings of Brand X on Google?’ you shouldn’t assume everyone knows what organic listings are.

All those who don’t know the meaning will either skip the question or just blindly answer it, and that will skew your report.

7. Double-barrelled questions

These should be avoided at all costs. A double-barrelled question contains multiple questions within it but allows only one answer.

These questions create confusion in participants’ minds, and their answers will definitely impact your report; especially if answering the question is mandatory.

For example, if someone were to come across a question, ‘Is this tool interesting and useful?’ they wouldn’t understand how to answer. The two adjectives aren’t interchangeable. Since they are different questions, the participant is likely to have different answers for both.

Parting words

Remember, it isn’t necessary that everyone you send the questionnaire to will take the time to fill it up. Research by SurveyAnyplace found that even in an era with ever-growing technology, 57% of people prefer an in-person survey.

So, keep the medium of distribution in mind before you put out your questionnaires.


1. Designing a questionnaire

2. 10 Key Things To Consider When Designing Surveys