Surveying customers can be an easy, fairly inexpensive and a very useful strategy to let customers know you’re listening to them. It’s also a great way of gaining insight-based business data in order to assess performance. However, how you go about planning and executing your strategy makes the difference between how successful and rich your results will be.

Surveys need to be crafted in a self-centric way that entices the participant. Simply asking someone to fill out a digital survey is essentially an empty act. Instead, you want to create a natural funnel for them. The most natural way to get the most out of your survey is to plug it as social content. Post your survey link on your Facebook business page (and add a high quality image), then have that link go out to your survey. Phrasing your post with rhetoric that entices curiosity will get you a lot further than “take this survey.” For example, instead of being so boringly blatant, you could write something like “You’ll be surprised when you find out which…”

How you end that sentence depends on your industry. Remember that it doesn’t necessarily have to be about our business; it needs to be about your greater industry. Also, using language like “you’ll be surprised” tells the reader how to feel along with pushing them into clicking on the link. Once clicked, take them to a landing page that offers some copy on your teaser sentence. Tell them about the surprising thing. Maybe back if up with a fact when needed – and then delve into your short survey.

Before you delve into your short survey, make sure you’re telling the participant why you want their opinion. Phrase it in such a way that shows their opinion is really important – this will also get you a lot further than mechanically asking them to partake so you can have more data. Again, it’s about appealing to your participant and thinking “what makes this worth their time and what does this person value?”

Some marketing managers may not like a short survey, but a survey is just as much about getting data as it is about getting your audience to engage with your brand – which a short survey does without any lingering commitments or immediate needs to convert. It’s about building trust and communication.

Now that you’ve got your survey strategy figured out, you want to start thinking about what your survey will be asking. Inc Magazine has a great article on thinking about your survey questions. “How to Write a Customer Survey,” by Tim Donnelly emphasizes the following key tips:

  • Don’t write ambiguous questions.
  • Stay away from “double-barrel” questions that ask two things at a time.
  • Use scalable questions with quantitative answer choices that focus on how they feel.
  • Use a small handful of open-ended questions for broader feedback.

In generally, Donnelly advises having more questions but keeping these longer surveys to once or twice a year. The point of longer surveys with more questions, according to Donnelly and his sources, are to provide a more “faceted” picture.

On a related note, Huffington Post also had a great article, “Customer Surveys: 5 Things You Need to Know.” It offers mre case examples flanked by core principles. It’s definitely worth a read.