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5 Design Tips to Increase Survey Participation: A Gift from the Girl Scouts

Posted on | April 29, 2011 | No Comments

Girl Scouts Western PA Service MarkGirl Scouts Western Pennsylvania (GSWPA) doesn’t just deliver cookies… or host summer and day camps… or sponsor leadership award events… or train girls to become leaders.  GSWPA also actively monitors the activities they sponsor for ways to make them better.

One of the key tools in their box of feedback practices is Ennect Survey.  And with more than 40 surveys – past, present, and planned – under their “sashes,” GSWPA has developed a good deal of expertise in what works when designing surveys.

“We use surveys internally as well as externally,” says Melanie Mannion, interactive marketing manager for GSWPA. “We survey our staff as a follow-up to key meetings or when we want to measure their opinions on something.  We collect feedback from troop leaders about their experiences with cookie and fall product sales. We survey our volunteers to get insight into how they came to volunteer with us and how the process is going for them. We collect feedback about our camps. Overall, the surveys help us make better decisions moving forward so that we can continue to improve our services and continue to grow.”

The importance of the surveys to GSWPA points to why it’s necessary to make them easy to use.  “People don’t want to waste time figuring out how to answer a survey.  Keeping surveys simple helps increase participation,” says Mannion.  Here are the practices she recommends:

1 – “Learn to Drive” – Get familiar with the survey package you’re using. That may mean building a few test surveys, taking training the vendor offers, and getting feedback from colleagues who’ve created successful surveys themselves.  Learning how to use survey logic and different types of survey questions will help you create better surveys.

2 – “Keep it Short” – Limit the number of questions you ask and the number of questions you place on each page.  People get impatient when they click through a survey and see the survey progress bar move only five percent.  Survey-takers want to see a nice jump. A simple rule is to keep your survey to four pages with four questions on each page. That increases the progress bar 25 percent each time someone completes a page of questions. It will make your participants feel like they’re completing the survey faster.

3 – “Organize for Efficiency” – Plan your survey so that it flows logically. Keep relevant questions together on the same page, but try to minimize the times when survey participants have to scroll “below the fold.”  Also, use survey logic to eliminate unnecessary steps for respondents.

4 – “Make It Simple” – The less work you make for your survey participants, the faster they’ll complete the survey and the more responses you’ll get.  When you simplify survey questions to require just “yes” or “no” answers, you automatically increase your responses. People don’t have time. They don’t want to sit there figuring out answers.

5 – “Keep It Timely” – When information is fresh in people’s minds, the answers you get are more accurate.  That means the feedback you collect will be more relevant and useful to your organization. GSWPA does a lot of surveys during resident camping season. The feedback is useful in planning future camp experiences.

Follow the GSWPA tips and maybe you’ll earn a “survey badge.” At minimum, you’ll produce better surveys…and better survey results!


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