Write A Good Survey Question: Common Mistakes,Types, Effective Tips

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    Surveys are a powerful tool to gather insights, opinions, and feedback from your audience. Conducting good market research using a survey can help you make data-driven decisions. But creating a good survey isn’t as simple as throwing together a few questions and hitting send. It requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a deep understanding of your demographics. In this ultimate guide to writing a good survey, we will cover everything you need to know about creating effective surveys that yield valuable insights. We will understand the purpose of a survey and identify your business objectives. We will learn how to choose the right question types and structuring your survey for maximum impact.

    What Is A Good Survey Question?

    A good survey question is goal oriented, clear, responsive and a type that brings actionable customer feedback. A good survey that is well-designed and properly executed, yields meaningful insights. It is tailored to the needs of your specific audience. The questions are carefully crafted to avoid bias while the structure is intuitive and easy to navigate.

    A good survey also takes into account the respondent’s time and effort. The main goal is to avoid giving ‘cognitive fatigue’ to your respondents. Make sure that it is not too lengthy or burdensome. Ultimately, a good survey questionnaire allows you to make informed decisions based on reliable data. This data should accurately reflect your audience’s opinions and feedback.

    What Is The Importance Of A Survey ?

    The main purpose of a survey is to gather customer data to improve your business.
    A purpose of a survey is as follows: 

    • Gather information about your target audience who can provide valuable feedback. 
    • Customer data helps business makedata-backed decisions for continuous improvements.  
    • To create products and services that meet the market requirements and close need-gaps.
    • To close the feedback loop on unhappy customers.  

    1. Create a clear purpose of your survey 

    A well-defined purpose helps you determine the questions you need to ask in your survey. It also allows you to identify the audience for your survey while you’re asking the right people the right questions. Adhere to SMART criteria, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Communicating your survey’s purpose increases the response rates and improves data quality by making sure that respondents understand why their input is valuable. In short, having a clear and well-defined purpose is key to creating a successful and effective survey.

    2. Identify your survey objective 

    To create a good survey, it’s important to first identify your objectives. These objectives will help focus on the questions you ask and the data you collect. Objectives can range from understanding customer satisfaction to gathering demographic information. Before creating a survey, take some time to consider what you want to achieve. This will help you better understand what questions to ask and what data to collect. It’s important to ensure that your objectives align with your overall business goals so that the insights gained from the survey are relevant and actionable. With this method, you can create a focused and effective survey that delivers valuable information about your customers, products, or services.

    How To Create A Useful Survey Questionnaire? 

    Creating a useful survey requires proper planning and execution. You need to define the purpose of the survey and determine the information you want to gather. Keep your survey simple and easy to understand. Use clear and concise language in your questions. Avoid leading or biased questions that could influence the responses. It is always advisable to test the survey with a small sample group before sending it out to a larger audience.

    To increase participation rates, offer incentives or rewards for completing the survey. Once you have collected all relevant data, analyze and interpret it to gain valuable insights into your research. 

    How to choose the right type of a survey?

    Different survey types can provide different types of data and insights. 

    • Multiple-choice questions are useful for collecting quantitative data and making comparisons between responses.
    • Open-ended questions allow respondents to provide more detailed and personalized responses but can be harder to analyze.
    • Likert scales measure attitudes and opinions on a scale from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree,”.
    • Customer satisfaction metrics can measure detractors to promoters ratio, satisfaction levels of your customers etc. These include standardized metrics of Net Promoter Score NPS , Customer Satisfaction Score CSAT and Customer Effort Score CES. These metrics mostly opt for closed-ended questions. 
    • Rating and ranking questions are used when you want to gauge the most preferred features of a product or service. This can help you focus on important features while improving on lagging areas.

    Tips for Writing Clear and Effective Survey Questions

    Clear questions should be easy to understand without any ambiguity. Effective questions should be concise and relevant to the purpose of the survey. While open-ended questions can provide deeper insights, they may also require more time and effort from respondents.

    A good survey question is not leading or biased in a manner that could influence the responses of participants. To create a logical and engaging survey experience for respondents, consider the order of questions and how they flow together. Here are some of the common survey mistakes to avoid:

    1. Example of a biased question: How much more likely are you to use our product now that it has been improved?

    A good survey also avoids double barreled questions i.e. asking two questions in one, which can lead to confusion and inconsistent responses.

    1. Example of a double-barreled question: Have you ever tried using a SaaS product and found it useful?

    In addition, it’s important to consider the target audience of the survey and use appropriate language and tone. Avoid using technical jargon or complex terminology that could confuse respondents.

    1. Example of a question with technical jargon: How likely are you to purchase this new product that is enriched with natural phytochemicals?

    Using a question with double negative is also almost never a good idea. Double negative questions can be confusing and difficult to understand. Instead, use clear and straightforward language to avoid any misunderstandings.

    1. Example of a double negative question: Don’t you disagree that our product isn’t worth the cost?

    Overall, a well-written survey can provide valuable insights and data for decision-making, but it requires careful planning, clear language, and effective question design. By taking these tips into consideration, you can create a successful survey that accurately captures the opinions and perspectives of your target audience. Following these tips for writing clear and effective questions, you can ensure that your survey provides valuable insights while being user-friendly for all participants.

    Creating correct word structure for your questionnaire

    Start by using clear and concise language that is easy to understand. Avoid using subjective language or leading questions that could influence how the participant responds.

    Another key consideration is using neutral language that doesn’t lean towards any particular answer. This means avoiding loaded questions that contain assumptions or biases. Finally, be specific in your questioning to ensure that participants know exactly what you are asking for.

    By wording your survey questions correctly, you can ensure that you receive unbiased and valuable feedback from your participants. This will allow you to make informed decisions based on the feedback gathered from your survey. Technical, industry jargon, or acronyms which are unfamiliar to the respondent can confuse them. While technical jargon may be appropriate in certain settings, it can often lead to low question comprehension, which in turn leads to poor quality responses.

    What Are Some Common Survey Mistakes?

    One key mistake to avoid is asking leading or biased questions. This may influence the responses. It’s also important to ensure that all questions are clear and easy to understand, avoiding the use of technical jargon or complex sentence structures.

    Clearly differentiate the topics from each other, so that participants don’t get confused by similar questions placed side by side and answer the wrong one.

    Make sure the topics are clearly differentiated from each other, so that participants don’t get confused by similar questions placed side by side and answer the wrong one. Another mistake that occurs is asking too many irrelevant questions. This can lead to survey fatigue and lower response rates. Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that the survey is relevant and targeted to your specific audience. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can create a useful and effective survey that provides valuable insights and data.

    Read our detailed blog on what mistakes to avoid in writing a good survey

    Types of Survey Questions

    Each type of question serves different purposes and can provide valuable insights into your research topic. By using a combination of these question types in your survey, you can gather comprehensive data that will help you make informed decisions.

    1. Open-ended vs. closed-ended questions

    There are two main types of survey questions: open-ended and closed-ended. Open-ended questions allow respondents to provide detailed and personalized answers. This can help you gather more qualitative data. However, open-ended questions require more time and effort to analyze, they can provide valuable insights into complex issues that cannot be easily quantified.  Open-ended questions may be better suited for exploring complex issues or gathering detailed feedback.

    On the other hand, closed-ended questions offer predefined answer choices and are easier to analyze with more quantitative data. Close-ended questions, on the other hand, are easier to quantify and can be used to gather specific information quickly. Closed-ended questions may be more appropriate for collecting quantitative data or measuring customer satisfaction metrics.

    Choose the right mix of open-ended and closed-ended questions to gain useful insights that can guide your decision-making process.

    2. Multiple choice questions

    Multiple choice questions offer a range of response options for respondents to choose from. This makes them ideal for gathering quantitative data. It is important to extend the principles used for framing a good survey question to the answer choice as well. They need to be free of bias, jargon, acronyms and unclear verbiage. Moreover, the answer choice should follow the principle of MECE- mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive

    3. Likert scale questions

    Likert scale question

    Likert scale questions ask respondents to rate their level of agreement or disagreement with a statement. This provides more nuanced insight into opinions and attitudes. This rating scale has bipolar extremes, with opposing values or statements on each end of the scale.  It is used to measure attitudes or opinions on a continuum. Typically, Likert scales range from 5 to 7 points, with a neutral midpoint. Respondents are asked to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with a given statement.

    4. Ranking scale questions

    Ranking scale question

    Ranking scale questions ask respondents to order a list of items based on importance, preference, or other criteria. These questions can be useful for understanding how respondents prioritize competing options. It is also used for identifying areas where improvements may be needed.

    Ranking scale questions ask respondents to order items in order of preference or importance, which can be useful for measuring priorities and preferences.

    5. Matrix questions

    Matrix questions are an advanced type of survey question that combines multiple Likert-scale questions into a table or grid format. This allows for more efficient data collection. In this format, respondents can provide answers for multiple items at once. However, it’s important to ensure that the matrix is easy to read and doesn’t overwhelm respondents. Matrix questions, due to their complexity, are also the biggest source of survey fatigue.

    When selecting the appropriate question type for your survey, consider the context and purpose of the survey as well as the target audience. By thoughtfully selecting the right question format, you can get more accurate and useful data from your respondents.

    Structuring The Survey In The Right Question Order: Best Practices 

    Structuring your survey is an essential aspect of writing a good survey. The introduction should tell the participant what the survey is about and what to expect. Use language that is clear and concise while framing questions. Grouping similar questions together helps to ensure that the survey flows smoothly and reduces any confusion.

    Using different types of questions such as multiple-choice, open-ended, or rating scales can help gather varied data from participants. Finally, closing the survey with a conclusion, thanking participants for their time can lead to better response rates in future surveys. A well-structured survey can increase responses, reduce drop-outs, and gather more accurate data.

    Create a visual appeal to the questionnaire:

    Make the survey engaging and conversational. This can include using visuals or interactive elements to break up the monotony of a long questionnaire. Use colours that adhere to the company branding- you can white label surveys to indicate survey authenticity. 

    Avoid biased and leading questions:

    Biased or leading questions can influence the response rate and make your data less accurate. To avoid bias, use neutral language and avoid emotionally charged or loaded words. This will help ensure that respondents are not swayed in a particular direction.

    Additionally, be sure to avoid leading questions that suggest a particular answer. Instead, ask open-ended questions to welcome a variety of responses. Including clear instructions that help respondents understand the questions to provide accurate answers. It’s also a good idea to pre-test your survey with a small group to identify any potential technical issues.

    Using artificial intelligence to create survey questionnaires

    Survey writing can be an intimidating exercise for someone who has not done it before. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI), creating a good survey can become much easier and more efficient.

    Merren AI Survey Builder can assist in designing effective surveys.  This can include suggestions on question wording, order of questions, and even which colors to use for maximum engagement. AI Survey Builder also helps eliminate bias and leading questions by providing real-time feedback on potentially problematic language.

    Sampling Techniques and Response Rates

    Sampling techniques and response rates are crucial components of a good survey. Maximizing response rates can be achieved through tactics such as keeping surveys short, offering incentives, and following up with non-respondents. Use channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, dynamic email, chatbots and in-app surveys that aid in easy response. 

    Choose a representative sample

    Random sampling can give all members of the population an equal chance of being selected for the survey. Stratified sampling can be used to ensure that certain subgroups are adequately represented in the sample.

    In addition to selecting a representative sample, response rates can also impact the accuracy of survey results. Make efforts to encourage participation and minimize non-response bias. It’s also important to consider the size of the sample, as larger samples generally provide more reliable results.

    Right channels bring a high response rate

    Consider using online or mobile devices to increase convenience for participants. This can lead to a higher response rate and more accurate data. Overall, employing best practices for administering your survey can help you obtain reliable and valuable information about your target population.

    Analyze Survey Data

    Statistical analysis is a great way to identify trends and patterns in the data. Creating visual representations such as graphs and charts helps to illustrate those findings in an easily digestible format. Segment the data by demographics or other relevant factors for deeper insights on specific groups. Comparing and contrasting the results with previous surveys or industry benchmarks provides additional context. The survey results can offer valuable feedback on customer satisfaction, product development, and overall performance. With this information, businesses can make informed choices that help them stay competitive in their industry.

    If you are using the survey to collect customer feedback, make sure you close the loop with your customer fast.

    Tools and methods for analysis

    Survey platforms such as Merren, Qualtrics, Medallia, Inmoment, Momentive also have their own built in analytics engines that allow users to analyze data. Several business intelligence tool platforms such as Tableau and Power BI also offer powerful data visualization capabilities for analyzing survey data. Choose the right tool based on your research objectives, budget and the complexity of the data. For simpler surveys with straightforward data, Excel may suffice, while more complex surveys may require the use of specialized software like SPSS or Qualtrics. Ultimately, choosing the right tool will allow you to effectively analyze your survey data and draw meaningful insights from it.Customer journey tool

    Survey results and analysis

    When interpreting survey results, consider the context of the survey, such as the target audience and the purpose of the survey. Visual aids such as graphs and charts can help to illustrate key findings and make them easier to understand.

    Qualitative feedback is another important aspect of interpreting survey results. This type of feedback can provide valuable insights into why respondents answered questions a certain way. By analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data, it’s possible to gain a more comprehensive understanding of survey responses.

    Ultimately, the insights gained from interpreting survey results should be used to inform decision-making and improve future surveys. By using this information, businesses can better understand their customers or audience and tailor their approach accordingly.

    Use Customer Insights to Improve Your Business

    Here is how you can boost your business with survey findings:

    • Analyze and interpret survey data. Use tools such as graphs, spreadsheets, and charts to help make sense of the data. Identify patterns, trends, and outliers in the results.
    • Share survey findings with key stakeholders within your organization. Based on this information, take action on what has been discovered in order to improve products, services, or customer experiences.
    •  Data-driven decision-making involves using survey results to inform strategies and goals. Survey data can be used to identify areas where improvements are needed, as well as strengths that can be leveraged.
    • Data analysis techniques such as segmentation and trend analysis can help identify patterns and insights in survey data. These techniques can provide valuable information about customer preferences, behaviors, and opinions.
    • Gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace and improve overall customer satisfaction.


    Writing a good survey is an art that requires careful crafting of questions, structuring of the survey, and analyzing the data. A well-designed survey can help you gain valuable insights into your business. It’s important to have a clear purpose and objectives for your survey, choose the right type of questions, and structure your survey properly. Sign up for a 14 day free trial with Merren to create flawless CX surveys.