Shorter Surveys Make the Grade
If the gurus behind childhood-education mainstay Schoolhouse Rock have anything to say about it, three is the quintessential magic number. However, for marketers looking for just the right amount of questions to include in a survey, the “magic number” requirements become considerably more business-savvy than the lyrics to a pop song. When enticing prospects to willingly provide information about themselves and/or their feelings on a product or brand, nothing turns a person off more than something that feels like homework. According to survey tests done by Bob Roberts, manager of marketing research for Babcox Publications, an Akron, Ohio–based B-to-B publisher, surveys with an exhaustive list of questions usually pulled the least amount of responses—even if the questions were short, yes/no-type of queries. “When they open that envelope, and look at that thing, they think, ‘Look at how many questions these are,’” he says.
Roberts maintains that surveys should be limited to one side of a page and, of course, feature simple sentences. Go one step further and add a very small number of questions to a response card, rather than including the survey as a separate element.
If you do need extra space or want to go more in-depth with a questionnaire, Roberts suggests testing an online option to help ensure a greater number of responses. While he has yet to implement this idea, he says he probably should test printing a URL on a mail survey that direct recipients to an online version of the survey.