How to Conduct a Survey in 5 Steps

Online surveys are a great way for you to really get to know your audience and reach useful insights. They can also be a meaningful experience for respondents. After all, when someone sends you a survey, they’re essentially telling you that your opinion matters, that you matter.

This article will teach you how to make a survey that is both effective and enjoyable. It will also give you the survey maker, tools, and knowledge you need to do it easily.

These are the five steps we’re going to take together:

Step-by-step guide to building an online survey

Step 1: Make a plan

Step 2: Build your survey

Step 3: Test and iterate

Step 4: Share your survey

Step 5: Present the results

But before we get to the how let’s take a quick look at the what and the why.

What Is a Survey?

A survey is a question-based research method used for collecting data from a predefined group of people. Sounds dry and academic, I know. But it’s not! If built correctly, a survey can be a profound and enjoyable conversation with your target audience.

There are many different types of surveys, satisfaction surveys, feedback surveys, market research surveys, just to name a few. But they all have the same building blocks: questions that are designed to retrieve unbiased data, so that you, the surveyor, can collect this data, analyze it, and learn from the results.

Surveys can be conducted as personal interviews, or they can be sent to participants to fill out independently. In this article, we will focus on online surveys – a world of endless possibilities and opportunities.

Here’s a live example. Give it a try:

Why Conduct an Online Survey?

Collect Valuable Data

Surveys give you access to direct and specific information from people who matter to you. They can tell you a lot about what you are doing right, what you need to improve, and where you need to focus your attention.

Learn About Your Audience

Surveys teach you about your audience. Who they are, what makes them tick, how they see the slice of the world that is relevant to you.

Create Unique Content

Surveys provide unique and valuable material for rich content. In many cases, the results can be as fascinating to your audience as they are to you.

Build Strong Relationships

Whether you aim to generate leads, raise awareness, or simply retrieve data, once the survey is done, you and your audience have gone through something together. You’ve shown interest, they’ve gotten involved. You can build on that.

Building a good survey is a process. Here’s a step-by-step guide that will help you do it right:

Step 1: Make a Plan

Set Your Goal

Define your motivation. What inspired you to conduct a survey? What do you want to know and why? This will influence what you ask, who you ask, and how you ask it.

Define Your Target Audience

Who are the people you want to hear from? What do you already know about them? Find out everything you can: where they hang out online and when, what interests them, which causes are closest to their hearts, and what cultural references could be relevant to them. This will influence your tone of voice, design, sharing strategy, and incentive plan.

Figure Out Your Sample Size

Sample size is the number of people who need to answer your survey in order for the results to be meaningful. In other words, how many members of your target audience do you need to reach to be sure your survey results accurately represent your entire audience.

Figure out how many people you need in your sample group
  • Population size – how many people belong to the group you want to learn about? If your target audience is 40-44-year-olds in the US, your population size would be roughly 20 million.
  • Confidence level – how many times would you get the same answers if you conducted your survey multiple times? The most commonly used confidence level is 95%. It’s also the industry standard.
  • Margin of error – how different will the results you get be from the results you would get from your entire audience? Up to a certain point, your margin of error will shrink as your sample group grows. If you’re surveying around 50 people, your margin of error will be about 14%. If you have 1000 respondents, your margin of error will be roughly 3%.

Here’s a calculator you can use to determine your ideal sample size.

Find the Right Time

When is the right time to launch your survey and for how long should it run? Once you know who your audience is, and how many of them you need to reach, you can determine the timing quite easily. You should also consider the context of your survey. For example, if it’s about Christmas gifts, your response rate will be higher in the holiday season.

Step 2: Build Your Survey


Now that you have a clear picture of your goals and audience you can start building your survey. There are many different types of survey questions one can ask: open-ended questions, multiple-choice questions, yes/no questions, rating scale questions, and more. Different questions suit different topics, needs, and audiences. Here are a few tips to keep the following in mind:

Be Concise

Short surveys have a greater chance of being completed. Ask only what you really need to know.

Be Clear

Confusion leads to frustration, which leads to drop-offs. Keep your questions short, simple, and clear. Build your survey gradually, starting with the easiest questions and building up to the more complex. 

Be Nice

People will stay with you if they’re having fun. Consider your audience’s convenience. Be friendly. Make your survey beautiful by using cool and relevant images and color schemes. We’ve created dozens of survey templates that can help you get started.

Be Respectful

If built correctly, a survey can feel like a personal conversation. Use skip logic to direct respondents through different question paths based on their answers. Make sure you’re not asking any redundant questions, and that there are no gaps or overlaps in your structure. It’s worth the effort.

Be Bold

Take your relationship with your audience to the next level. If it makes sense in the context of your survey, consider adding a lead generation form.

Step 3: Test and Iterate


Once you’ve built your survey, you may want to test it on a small sample of your target audience. Use our visual analytics dashboard to see what works and what doesn’t. This will give you an opportunity to make some improvements before launching.

Check how many people opened it, where they dropped off, and how long the process took them. Maybe there are questions that could be made clearer or shorter. Is there anything you should leave out? How about adding some images, or rearranging the order?

Step 4: Share Your Survey


Now that your survey is ready, it’s time to share it. At this point, you should remind yourself who you’re dealing with. Go back to your goals, sample size, and most importantly your target audience. Where would you have the greatest chances of getting their attention?

The options are endless. You can make it a Facebook survey, or a WhatsApp survey. Share a link to it on social media, invite people to your personal survey page on our site, or embed the survey on your website.

The fact that you can receive live updates makes it easy to follow the response rate. You can see early on if your sharing strategy is working. If not, don’t panic, just try a new channel or a different time. You’ll figure it out eventually.

You may want to incentivize your audience to participate in the survey. In some cases, your mere interest in their opinion is enough of an incentive. But sometimes, offering a giveaway or the opportunity to participate in a prize-bearing competition can go a long way.

You could also promise to share the results and conclusions with your respondents before you make them public. Be creative, just make sure that the incentive doesn’t create bias. That would be counterproductive…  

Step 5: Present the Results

Share the results and conclusions of your survey

You’ve done it! You know how to conduct a survey. Your questions are out there and people are responding. At this point, you’ve probably clicked the refresh button on your survey dashboard a hundred times, getting a rush of adrenalin whenever an answer comes in.

Once you reach your full sample group – and you will – it’s time to put on your investigator’s cap and look at the data you have collected:

Check Your Goals

Go back to your goals and motivations. Recall why you decided to ask what you asked.

Examine the Data

Analyze your visual dashboard for different perspectives on the results. There are loads of visualizations there to learn from.

Reach Insights

What have you learned from your survey? Do you have any new questions to ask or action items to implement? Formulate your conclusions based on the data, and apply or report them internally.

Get Creative

You can tell so many captivating stories with data. Use your insights and data visualizations to create rich, original, and useful content based on the results.

Every End Is Also a Beginning

Now that you have successfully concluded your survey you can start on an even more challenging and fascinating journey – implementing all the insights you have collected.

How to Conduct a Survey in 5 Steps
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