Gathering feedback is an effective way of informing decisions. If you don't ask your community what they want or what they think, how will you really know how to deliver the best service for them?

Community surveys are one of the simplest ways of gathering feedback. You can use community surveys to gather opinions and insights and get to know the people using or being affected by your services. At Text-Em-All, we understand the value your community can bring to your work, and sourcing their opinions is one way to make changes for the better.

But for survey research to be effective and to receive the best response rates, you need to make sure you're asking the right questions. Being able to get the right insights on your community needs will help drive your work, so a focus on quality community survey questions can help to collecting better quality data. 

Whatever you're looking for opinions on, we're here to help make sure you get what you want from it. Please take a look at our guide to creating effective community survey questions to help you gather opinions that really matter. 

Define Your Objectives

Anyone could draft a survey about anything at any time, but it's a wasted effort if nothing comes from it. For a survey to have meaning, you need to define the objectives - what do you want to know?

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What do you want to get from the survey? 
  • What will you do with the data and insights collected?
  • What sort of questions will help you get the information you need?
  • Will this be an ongoing survey, or will it have a defined period?

This can help you nail down your survey's purpose and make sure that what you do is worthwhile. 

Setting SMART objectives is another way to make sure that the work you do answers your main question. SMART objectives are:

  • Specific - be very clear about what you want to do.
  • Measurable - how will you measure when your goal has been reached?
  • Achievable - is your goal attainable? 
  • Realistic - do you have what you need to be able to achieve your goals, including the time and resources? 
  • Time-constrained - what is your deadline? When do you need your answers by?

Once you've set objectives that you're happy with, you can use them to inform your community survey form.

Think About Your Audience

In addition to defining your objectives, you also need to think about your audience. Do you want to survey everyone in your community, or are there specific demographics you want to reach? Thinking about your audience carefully will help you decide on the sorts of questions you need to ask them.

Draft Your Community Survey Questions

Drafting your community survey questions can be one of the trickiest parts of survey creation. It would be best if you made sure that the questions you ask are clear and understandable and that they don't contain a bias that could persuade someone to choose one answer over another. Avoid leading language and have someone else sense-check the questions if you're not sure.

When thinking about the answers, you should keep them balanced, with options to provide a neutral answer. 

What are common survey questions?

There are some common community survey questions that can be useful for most surveys. These include:

  • What is your age?
  • Where do you live?
  • What is your gender?

These sorts of questions can help you define your audience, helping you gather insights that could be related to a specific age group or people who live in a particular location. 

Other questions that can help you gain useful insights from your community include:

  • How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?
  • Are you satisfied with your experience of using our product or service?
  • What do you like/dislike about our products/service?
  • What could we do to improve our products/service?

Consider Question Formats Carefully

When designing your survey questions, you need to consider the question formats carefully. You should make sure the questions can be answered, as there could be some gaps and grey areas that mean the participant can't provide their preferred answer.

Types of Question Format

Surveys provide a lot of flexibility, allowing you to create questions with single or multiple-choice answers, open-ended questions, rating questions, and more. Some common types of question format include:

  • Multiple-choice questions (where participants choose from a choice of predefined answers)
  • Rating scales (where participants choose a number on a scale to reflect their response)
  • Likert scales (where participants choose from predefined answers such as 'Strongly Agree,' 'Agree,' 'Strongly Disagree,' etc.)
  • Matrix questions (an effective way of asking multiple questions where the response options are the same)
  • Dropdown questions (where participants choose from a menu of answers)
  • Open-ended questions (where participants can write their responses)

Double-Check Your Numbers

If you're using questions that have numbers as answers, double-check them! For example, if you ask, 'How old are you,' the following answers could cause confusion:

  • Under 18
  • 18-30
  • 30-40
  • 40-50

How will a 30-year old know to select 18-30 or 30-40? These are things that need some careful thought to ensure participants can provide their answers.

Think Twice Before Asking An Open-Ended Question

Open-ended questions can be a good way of getting further and unique insight into the subjects you're asking about. However, as this becomes qualitative data, you could find it challenging to measure the responses, and it will take more time to analyze the data. 

If you can get a more defined response to the question you're asking, avoid going open-ended. Save the open-ended question to gather further insights and feedback that hasn't been captured elsewhere.

Be Smart With The Survey Journey

Surveys should be short, easy to read, and easy to navigate. If a survey takes too long, people may lose interest and either abandon the survey or select random answers to get it finished. Short community engagement surveys are great, but if you need to create a longer survey, consider offering an incentive to encourage people to complete the survey in its entirety. 

Another thing to consider is whether you can save your participants time. If there are follow-on questions to an opening question, such as 'Do you have a pet?', allow people to be able to skip ahead further in the survey. This is called 'skip logic' and helps you provide a good user experience for your participants. It's also handy to give a completion percentage so that people can see how far along they are in the survey to motivate them to continue. 

Test It Out (And Test Again!)

After completing your community survey questions, it's understandable that you'll want to release them as soon as possible. However, you must test the survey to make sure that it makes sense, estimate completion time, and identify any survey errors.

It makes sense to test it internally amongst colleagues first and then with a small sample willing to provide feedback. You can then make any necessary adjustments ready for publishing.

Send It To The Community

Now it's time to send your survey to your community. You can do this through various methods, including phone, mail, and email. Targeting members directly can be an effective way of making sure you're sending it to the right people. However, if you want to reach a wider audience, promoting your survey via various communications channels could help you collect more responses. 

The best way to reach a large audience is by using an automated calling and mass text messaging system, such as Text-Em-All. We deliver personalized, informational, mass text messages and phone calls fast—whether they’re going to five people or 50,000. A survey broadcast allows you to ask a question to your group via voice message and have them respond on their phone keypad. We will report back to you what each caller pressed in the Broadcast Details page for that particular broadcast. 

Remember to Send Reminders

Once your survey has been sent, it's a good idea to monitor the responses coming in. You can keep an eye on the completion rates to help you make decisions about further targeting and promotion.

Sending polite text reminders near your survey's closing date can help prompt people to take action if they know there's limited time left.

Analyze Your Responses

Once your responses are in, you can get to work analyzing them. This is where your hard work will pay off. You'll need to clear any incomplete or duplicate surveys and organize your data to make it easy to analyze. Some survey builders will convert responses into analytics for you, or you can transfer your data to a spreadsheet ready for you to evaluate.

If you're collating data into a report for others to read, it can help visualize the data with tables, graphs, etc. If you've collected open-ended questions, responses will need careful analysis, and you can select some of the responses to highlight in your reporting.

Take Action

Now that you've got your data, you can start putting it to use. After establishing what's useful and meaningful, you can then make decisions and put actions in place. Use the data you've gathered to inform your work and priorities. While some things can be changed immediately, others might take time to plan and implement. 

Surveys can be a powerful tool to gain an insight into your community and how they feel about you, your products, and your services. With careful survey design and considered questions, you can create an effective community survey to help you achieve your goals.