How to conduct a survey (with examples)!

Surveys are a useful tool for just about any aspect of your business. They help you connect with and understand your employees, customers, or target audience, as well as measure your business’ performance across a range of metrics.

Conducting market or consumer research is an important activity for every business, and surveys are one of the best methods for hearing from your target audience directly. But how do you actually run your own survey?

In this post, we’ll break down simple steps for creating and posting a survey, as well as best practices and specific tools you can use.

When are surveys used?

A survey is a list of questions that you pose to a group of people with the intent of gathering information or data. You can use surveys as a research method for gathering both quantitative and qualitative data.

Businesses of all sizes use surveys for a wide range of goals, including the following:

  • Market research 
  • Customer satisfaction testing 
  • Employee satisfaction testing 
  • Demographic research 

If there’s an aspect of your organization you want to get a snapshot of, a survey can usually do the job.

Surveys 101: A quick-start guide to building a survey

If you’ve read this far, you understand what a survey is and how it can help your business.

Now, you just need some practical guidance to set up your own questionnaire. Or maybe you’ve already conducted your own survey, but didn’t get the results or the clarity you thought you would.

In this guide, we’ll look at how you can make sure your survey is effective and useful. First, let’s get a high-level view of how to build a survey.

You can choose to create your own survey from scratch or use one of the preset PickFu templates to get started in just a few clicks.

An image of a "Which logo do you prefer in PickFu's survey builder".

In this example, it’s easy to do logo or name testing using the logo test template. 

The digital ad test template is a good example of a ranked survey, which allows you to assess multiple options and help choose the right direction to go in. 

An image of a "Which ad woudl you more likely click and why, with 4 options".

In both of these, the goal is to gather answers from a specific audience in order to validate a design, product or even a SaaS tool.

The questions are one component, and the sample size is the next. An effective survey requires a well-considered design. That begins with step 1: 

Step 1: Understand your needs

The first and most important step in any piece of research is understanding your own hypothesis. What is it you want to test? Why do you want to test it? It’s one thing to say “I want to make sure that customers are happy”, but what will you do with that information afterwards? How will you use it? 

A good practice for beginning any sort of research project is to ask yourself three key questions: 

  • What do I want to know? 
  • Why do I want to know it?
  • How will I use this information? 

From there, you’ll need to assess who your target audience is, and who you want these answers from. 

Step 2: Understand your target market or audience

Who is it you want these answers from? There’s no point sending an email to your suppliers if you want to know how your employees view your company. At the same time there’s no point sending a survey to the wrong group of potential customers. 

This next bit of survey prep involves asking: Who Are These Questions For? Choosing who to ask is called sampling. 

Best practices for sampling

Sampling techniques can impact the pricing, survey response rates, and timing of your survey. 

This is why best practices include a questionnaire design that has clear goals and a well-defined target population. Remember though, that the more controlled your survey sample is, the more expensive it will be and the longer it might take to get results. 

Step 3: Choose a survey tool

There are dozens, if not hundreds of survey tools and consumer insights platforms available in the marketplace. For this article we’re going to focus on PickFu (that’s us!). 

We have many types of market surveys as well as tools for prototype testing, name testing, and more. If there’s a survey you want to build, PickFu can help you build it. 

Step 4: Build your survey

At a high level, the steps to building a survey are largely the same for anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re performing market research for apps or proof of concept testing. Surveys have three attributes: 

  • Questions 
  • Respondents 
  • Survey reporting and results 

Simply write your questions and upload them to your chosen survey tool, choose your recipient, make up and set your parameters, and then wait for the results to come in. 

Survey design best practices

Survey creation starts with you understanding what it is you’re trying to learn from your respondents. From there, it should be relatively easy to write up a list of questions. 

Completion rates depend on how difficult and how long your survey questionnaire is to answer. Yes/No questions make it easier for participants to answer, but make for less insightful data collection.  

Multiple choice survey questions are also popular for the ease of answering, and because it helps the surveyor guide the answers to keep them consistent. 

Best practices involves adding an open question to a yes/no, ranked, rating scale, or multiple-choice question. This open question provides a deeper understanding. 

If you do use a survey tool that allows you to ask multiple questions – try to keep the number lower than 3-5. Shorter surveys on average perform better than longer ones. 

Short, clear surveys with specific questions are the best methodology for meaningful  research. 

Step 5: Assess your survey results

Not all customer insights platforms offer a quick and easy way to measure your results. 

Every PickFu survey is assessed using our natural language processing artificial intelligence technology. This AI uses machine learning to analyze the responses from your surveys into easy-to-understand insights that give you actionable insights within minutes. 

This saves time and money because you don’t have to pour through dozens of answers and try to decipher the trends within them. 

How to build a survey with PickFu

Users can choose to create their own custom survey from scratch, or pick from one of many preset templates and examples. You can even save survey templates for your team to use so you can achieve consistency and repeatability in your research. 

Let’s explore how to create a custom survey or use one of the PickFu templates using some examples of these different survey methods. 

An image of a "Choosing a template from PickFu's survey builder".

How to create your own survey

Open-ended surveys are excellent for finding high-level ideas. Say you’re conducting market research for startups in the software industry, and you want to know what annoys people about the software they use right now.

You might ask a generic, open-ended question that tries to tease out those paint points: 

First question on a survey asking "What do you wish your email client did better" for a survey

Sometimes, an open-ended question might be related to a specific concept. For example, you might ask: “How do you think these things are linked?” and post a set of media. This could allow you to discover how a target market thinks about certain sounds, or colors, or videos. In this example though, we’re going to skip the options step and leave our open-ended questions free and unguided. 

An image of a "Ad options".

There are several types of surveys available through PickFu: 

  • Open-Ended 
  • Star rating 
  • Click test 
  • Head-to-Head 
  • Ranked 
  • Round robin

We’re asking respondents here for open-ended questions: 

A screenshot of a computer

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Choosing your audience involves choosing a sample size. The higher the number of people who answer your survey the more chance you have of spotting large-scale trends. 

You can also choose high-level demographics, like nationality, and age. 

An image of a "Audience chooser for PickFu's SaaS tool".

As you drill down into the available sampling options, you’ll uncover more niche audiences. In this case, we’ve selected users aged 18-24 who have side hustles and use iPhones, as the app we’re researching is going to be aimed at iOS users: 

An image of a "Choosing a specific demographic".

Finally, we set three demographic questions, including what browser the respondents use, to help clarify our answers: 

A screenshot of a questionnaire

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It’s as simple as that to launch a poll and perform rapid, effective open-ended market research

Assessing your survey results

When your survey is complete, how will you collate and store the responses? PickFu makes this easy with its simple user dashboard. 

Poll created for What do you wish your email client did better?

This also is where you’ll find your survey results, both in simple summary format and with more detailed demographic information. 

Data from the email client surface

PickFu’s AI insights give you faster, more efficient access to the qualitative data your survey delivers. You get an AI-generated summary and sentiment report (breaking down likes and dislikes for easy analysis) with every poll.

This sort of qualitative data analysis is the most time-consuming part of market research for most companies – but PickFu makes it easier and more accessible.

AI sentiment summary
AI sentiment summary

In our example poll, the AI summary highlighted several ways in which product planners and developers could improve email clients.

Conduct surveys with confidence

The tips and concepts in this article will help you achieve your research goals effectively and efficiently. 

Take your time planning and designing your questionnaire, ask focused questions, and choose the right format to get the survey data you need to drive your organization forward. 

Sign up for free and start collecting valuable insights today

Survey FAQs

What is the easiest way to do a survey?

The easiest way to conduct surveys is using a customer insights platform tool like PickFu to build and distribute your survey. This will give you access to the general public and get you a large number of responses quickly, while still allowing you to sample your population based on demographics and interests. 

How do you conduct a survey on the web?

It’s easy to do online surveys using online survey software. PickFu is one example. You can build custom surveys, or use templates to find a wide range of different poll types. Once you’ve created your questions and chosen your audience you can send your survey out to the target audience in just a few clicks. 

Why is it important to conduct a survey?

A survey is the most direct and tangible way to gather feedback on your organization. They can help measure customer sentiment and employee satisfaction, or even help in the product design process. Survey respondents will often provide important feedback about the ways in which you’re not meeting their needs, and can even save you from making major design errors. 

What are some alternatives to surveys?

You can also perform market research using social media to gauge sentiment, or by measuring sales metrics. These assessments are often less reliable and take more work to compile than survey tools.

Learn more: Build a better business by testing your business names, ideas, logos, marketing copy, and website designs on PickFu.

Jacob Black

Jacob has been writing about products and services in everything from automotive to IT and insurance for a decade. He used to be Australian but fixed that by moving to Canada.