Surveys aren’t the sexiest blog topic.
Surveys should have their own category at the ESPYs; they are the unsung heroes of premium online courses/successful products/ pretty much anything that sells well.
If you’re not using surveys for your business [in your courses] you’re like that baby who clutches a cheerio, aims for her mouth just knowing she’s going to be tasting delicious honey goodness any second now, and misses by a mile.
Surveys are difficult to do right. Difficult, but not impossible.
I believe you can create masterful surveys. I believe in you so much that I’ve poured the contents of my brain into a blog post just so you can go forth and slay.
That being said, turns out my brain holds a lot of information (who knew??) and what we’ve got here is what the cool kids call an “epic post”. It’s a ton to digest. So I created a little something for you. It’s a download of all of this information wrapped up in a handy-dandy (and pretty) PDF.
Now, I’ve got to ask:
Do you you care about your students?
Do you care what they think about you and the course they just paid for?
Or are you one of those course creators that pimps her course hard, says “Thanks for the money, enjoy!”, and then skips off into the next sales funnel?
Look, I’m not here to judge you. I get it. We’re all trying to get a dollar - it’s hard out here in these streets.
Plus you worked your butt off during that launch. You actually SOLD some course “seats”. You’re so happy and exhausted that you could sleep for a week.
But are you leaving your students hanging?
Do you give them a chance to tell you about the course? Do you know whether they would recommend your course to their online buddies? Do you know what to include in your course next time?
If you answered “No” to those questions, let me tell you a secret…You’re leaving money on the table. How? Every student in your course today is collaborator for a better course tomorrow.
A better course means more value that attracts more students. It also means a higher price point for your course.
Are you seeing the pattern?
Better feedback = more value = more sales = more profit (tweet this)
Some of you reading this are already asking your students for feedback. But I want more for you than the replies you get from a random question in that one email. I want you to get superb feedback.
For you to get the most out of your student’s feedback, you need to have an organized survey strategy. This means asking intelligent questions designed specifically for your audience. Questions that are strategically placed in carefully planned systems. Questions that get fantastic responses.
That’s the secret.
Behind every successful business owner and behind every successful “6-figure” launch, there is a system in place for collecting and using information extracted from great surveys.
This post? It’s a step-by-step, easy-to-implement guide that will have you drowning in superb feedback. Which will lead to you providing greater value, racking up more sales, and pulling in more profit.
Don’t have time to read it all? Snag your download!
Ready to get started? Cool...
Let's play darts
Have you ever played darts?
Maybe you’ve watched a darts game?
Whatever the case, you know that it takes skill to successfully and consistently spear a dart from about 7 feet away into a tiny red circle. I personally think it’s ridiculous to expect so much from one person. Especially when said person also needs to make sure that they don’t spill their HopLanta.
Now imagine the target represents all of your student's desires and that the small red bullseye at its center holds all the juicy info about those desires that you’re dying to know...
Think about it.
Hidden beneath that bulls eye is a wealth of knowledge just waiting to be unleashed.
Each question you ask on a survey is a dart thrown at that target.
You need to hit the bulls eye. (Finally! A dart game I can really get into)
You may be asking: should I really care this much about surveys? I mean, I’ve made it this far.
Here’s the thing, when any business reaches a certain level, the people running the show start asking questions - very specific questions about their business and about their audience.
Successful entrepreneurs do this because they know that, if they want to create products that people will be dying to buy, they have to know who they’re selling to and what those people actually want.
If you’re as forward thinking as they are, you're asking those same questions.
> You're asking "Who is my audience exactly?"
> You're asking "What products do they need me to create?"
> You're asking "Which enticing words will turn your emails/sales pages/ products/services into conversion machines?"
Getting answers means asking questions.
But not just any questions.
Questions that hit their mark over and over again.
You know those entrepreneurs you follow on Twitter and Instagram? Knowing the answers to your bullseye-hitting questions will get you operating on their level.
Pause. Time to brainstorm:
What is your bullseye? What information are you hoping floods out when your audience answers your questions? Go type up your answers and save a copy in your audience research folder.
I call this finding your "Why".
Mind you - it can be really hard to come up with your "Why". But you have to do this before you can even think about creating a good survey.
You need a Survey Autobot
You’ve heard about creating an audience avatar.
That ideal audience member you write and create for.
Serving a specific (type of) person is essential to your success and your sanity, just ask Maya Elious.
“When you have a definite ‘person’ in mind, your job of selling will be more straightforward. You’ll know exactly who to address, and it will come through in your marketing efforts.” - Maya Elious, mayaelious.com
The same goes for surveys.
Knowing your “Who” means finding out the characteristics of the people answering your lovingly crafted questions. When you see surveys ask about your gender, age and marital status, that’s what they’re doing.
Finding their “Who”.
You need to know WHO your questions are for so that you can craft questions that resonate with that type of person. What does she look like? How old is she? What does she do? Or want to do? To boost your feedback from mediocre to superb, you need to know answers to these and similar questions.
If you don’t know the answers to these “who are you?” questions then getting to know your “Who” should be your next order of business.
It’s up to you whether you create a survey specifically for finding out the "Who" of your surveys or whether you want ask those questions in combination with the other types of questions we’re going to talk about.
Trust me on this - having a clear idea of who you’re talking to will make crafting your survey a billion times easier.
Just do me one teeny favor.
Instead of creating a survey avatar, create a Survey Autobot.
Autobots are so much better than avatars.
In my head, you’re an indestructible jet black Autobot that transforms into a Model S. You can create anything from scratch, wow others with your brilliant ideas, and smash Decepticons (read: haters and competitors) with your awesomeness. You move at the speed of Elon Musk.
Plan your survey launch in 3 questions
We’re talking about launching? Yup.
Before talking about what questions are in my survey? Uh huh.
Now that you know WHY you’re asking questions and WHO you’re asking them to (or are ready to find out who you’re asking), it’s time to tie in your HOW, WHEN, and WHERE. This is the last crucial step in setting up a survey strategy that works. Then, and only then, should you start thinking about the questions to include in your surveys.
You know all about launching products and services, right? You know launches can be big. That they can be small. That they can last for weeks.
The same is true for survey launches.
It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure kind of game.
You can stand on rooftops with your arms wide open yelling at the top of your lungs about your survey. Or you can whisper about it into the closest ear. You can have your survey open for weeks, months, or for eternity. Or you can shorten its lifespan to a few days.
Your survey, your choice.
But there are 3 questions you should answer, in detail, while you plan the launch of your survey:
- When will it go live? Right after students finish a course? A week later? A month?
- Who will I tell about it (and how often will I tell them)? Students in my paid course? Students in my free course? All students?
- How long will the survey be up? 3 days, a week, a month, forever?
Once you have the answers to these 3 questions, stick your plan on a calendar, and stick to your plan.
The 3 questions to ask everyone in your audience (even if you have 0 clients)
You’re ready to create a simple, 5-question survey. You know your “Why”, you know your “Who”, you even know your “How”. But now you’re stuck staring at your blank computer screen counting the number of times the cursor blinks, because where do you start?
You finally just start typing and 1 sweaty hour later, you sit back and what do you have?
A hot jumbled mess that vaguely resembles a survey.
I get it.
Without a background in research, creating surveys is A STRUGGLE.
But, no worries, that’s why I’m here.
I’m here to make your life a easier.
There are certain types of questions you should ask everybody who interacts with your business. And I do mean everyone.
Every email address on your list.
Every paying client.
Every Twitter/Instagram/Periscope/Facebook follower.
Once you know what types of questions to ask, creating survey questions gets a little bit easier.
Here they are, the 3 types of survey questions that will banish your frustration and have you sailing into survey heaven:
- The Who Are You questions
- The How May We Help You questions
- The What Did You Think questions
How do you know which type of questions to focus on?
Let’s break it down:
If students haven’t started the course yet (or if you don’t yet have a product or offer a service), use the Who Are You and/or the How May We Help You questions.
If students have taken your course (or if customers have used your product/service), use the Who Are You and/or What Did You Think questions.
Now you know I couldn’t leave you without some examples!
A Who Are You question:
How old are you?
Possible answer choices: Under 18; 18-25; 26-34; 35-54; 55-64; 65 and over
A How May We Help You question:
What are your most burning questions about [specific topic]?
Create a text box for their answer
A What Did You Think question:
Overall, how satisfied or dissatisfied are you with [ENTER COURSE/PRODUCT/COMPANY NAME]?
Possible answer choices: Very satisfied; Somewhat satisfied; Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied; Somewhat dissatisfied; Very dissatisfied
These mistakes make every survey expert cringe. Don’t do these.
I couldn’t pick a title for this section, so I went with both, because...
There are only two things outside of my close circle of family and friends that can make me sad enough to produce tears.
- Seeing someone win or lose at life.
- Crappy survey questions.
Since I know that you’re a good person and that you don’t want to make me (and other researchers) cry, here are 3 of the most offending mistakes survey rookies make.
And how to #fixit.
Mistake #1: You ask leading questions
You’ve seen this on every law-type TV show ever created, right?
Lawyer: “Objection! Leading the witness!”
Simply put, leading questions are questions that tell the reader how to answer. Instead, use neutral language that lets the reader make up their own mind.
Mistake #2: Your questions are uber vague or straight up confusing
These questions confuse readers because the reader has a hard time coming up with an answer for them. There are either multiple answers to the vague question. Or they can't think of how to answer the vague question.
Some easy ways to avoid this trap:
- Ask about one thing/group of people at a time (see the first & second examples),
- Do not use double negatives (see third example),
- Talk like your audience - don’t over complicate it (see fourth example)
Mistake #3: You use “always” and “never” in your questions
(Note: these words are OK to use in some answer choices)
You’re a human being.
Your readers are human beings.
It’s very difficult to always or never do something as a human being.
We don’t always breathe.
We don’t never lie.
Asking these types of questions forces your readers to answer “No”.
Don’t put Baby in a corner.
Other words to watch out for: “every”, “ever”, “all”, and “none”.
These aren’t the only mistakes you can make. Take a peek at one “Golden Rule” of survey questions
in the free PDF download.
There are, of course, a ton more examples of these mistakes and many other mistakes you can make. But if you avoid these, we’ll probably stay friends.
Ha, just kidding.
If you made these mistakes, I’d cry, fix them for you, and carry on being your friend.
Surveys and first dates
I know what you’re thinking.
What do surveys have to do with first dates? I’ll get to that in 5 seconds, but let me say this: I despise first dates. Actually, I’m not a fan of most things that have to do with starting a relationship. Like the stilted small talk, or the I’m-gonna-vomit-why-won’t-he-CALL feeling, and definitely not the drafting (and redrafting) of text messages to make sure you’re the perfect combination of witty and sexy.
But first dates? They are a special kind of torture.
Am I right??
You know next to nothing about this person and yet you volunteer to spend hours staring into their eyeballs. I mean...
> He might be crazy.
> He might be rude to waiters.
> He may not get your Harry Potter references.
But, no worries. You can get through first dates and maybe even squeeze out a drop of fun from them because there are rules to these dates and everybody knows them… Right?
You start with small talk, feel the guy out, make sure they don’t cut the heads off dolls for fun.
Then you ask some more personal questions. Maybe the conversation gets really deep and you start talking about the underlying themes in HP 1 through 7.
Then you end the night giggling at new inside jokes and making "this was nice" talk.
My point is this: although first dates are awkward, they have a certain order to them. A flow.
Your surveys should flow.
Your questions should be ordered intentionally.
And the order goes something like this:
> Less gentle
> Not so gentle
Start your survey with easy, safe questions. Make the reader comfortable.
Then ease into the more intense or personal questions.
Finally circle back to the safe zone and end on an easy note. Leave the reader feeling good about answering your questions.
What are some examples of gentle questions?
Open-ended questions like: Tell me what you think about… Any other thoughts on… In detail, describe your biggest struggle…
Questions gathering background info: What’s your age? What’s your sign? Are you male or female?
Side note: these questions work on first dates, too. You’re welcome.
No matter what your “Why” is, no matter how many questions you have in our survey, your survey should flow from gentle to gentle.
Any other way would be like going for a handshake and getting soggy lips on your face instead.
Worried students won't fill out your surveys? You should be.
I got you, though.
You see, there are a lot of reasons why students will give your survey a hard pass (I'm going to tell you about 3 of them). They come across surveys every day. It’s hard to stand out in that kind of noise.
And your readers are hard to impress.
But there’s really nothing worse than putting yourself out there and hearing crickets… trust me, I know. If this post makes it so that you never know that feeling, I will consider my life’s purpose fulfilled.
Here’s an outline of the main reasons your survey is getting no love and some ways you can bypass this dreadful feeling.
Reason #1: You’re survey is too bloody long.
What you don’t want to happen: student is on question #15… they look at the progress bar and 10% completed??!??! NOPE. *Closes window with relish*
You also don’t want this to happen: student clicks through to the end… 55 questions??!?! HA! *Promptly erases all thoughts of your survey from memory*
Why does this matter?
Yeah, it’s a thing.
Survey fatigue is when your reader gets sick of taking surveys or when your reader gets sick of filling out one particular survey.
So, keep it short and keep it simple. Make it really easy to finish your survey. And make sure each question is hitting the bullseye and not just wasting space.
Knowing your “Why” helps make this really easy. If you haven’t already, go back to the first section of this post (“Let’s play darts”) and make sure you’re super clear on that.
Reason #2: There’s nothing in it for them.
Imagine a world where everyone did things for others out of the goodness of their heart.
That would be an awesome world.
That is not this world.
In this world, most people need incentives and motivation to get them moving.
Here are a couple ways to get your readers clicking away:
- Link survey entries to a giveaway.
This could be cash prizes, free cool stuff, course upgrades or bonuses.
A word of caution here: be careful how you use this option. It’s very easy to get people filling out the surveys JUST so they get the prize. And the data you get from people like this is trash. Make sure there’s a balance between worth of a survey response and worth of the prize...
1 survey response for a free workbook that’s usually part of your other paid product. GOOD.
1 survey response for a year’s subscription to your premium product. NOT GOOD
- Make the ask about them.
This is my preferred method. When you ask your students to fill out your survey, frame the ask to show how giving a response benefits them.
You could say something like:
“Hey guys, thank you so much for [taking this course/buying this product]. I would love to make [the course/the product] even better for you. And if you could answer these 5 questions, I know I will.”
“We need your help! We’re ready to [update our course content/upgrade our website/create our product] but we can’t do it without you. Just think: you can have a hand in making this [course/website/product] even better...and all you’ll need is 5 minutes and your opinions.”
Reason #3: You only ask once.
With all the noise happening on the internet and in your students’ inboxes, asking only once for anything won’t get you very far.
They won’t see it. They’ll say “I’ll come back to it later” and never do. They’ll start the survey, get distracted, and forget to finish it.
Ask a first time. Change the wording a bit, then ask again. Heck, ask a 3rd time (but nicely)!
Make sure they know about your survey, tell them how they’ll benefit from taking the survey, and make it really easy for them to complete the survey. Do these 3 things and you can stop worrying that no one will fill out your surveys.
Whew! Are you exhausted? I am. You’ve read about every single thing you need to know to start a getting feedback you can use today.
You now know that in order to get truly superb feedback, you must:
> Have 1 or 2 good reasons why you’re creating a survey
> Know who you’re creating a survey for
> Ask questions that cover at least one of the three main types of survey questions
> Know how to avoid the most common mistakes when crafting your survey questions
> Be intentional about the order of your questions
> Use strategies that boost your response rates
Which one of these 6 have got down? Which one do you struggle with the most? Tell me in the comments below!