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Survey questions: Examples and tips

The complete guide to survey questions with examples, types, and tips to write great questions.

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Popular survey questions and examples

What's the most critical factor determining the success of a survey?

You got it – the types of questions you ask.

From email to SMS surveys, the common denominator that determines effectiveness is the questions. Different question and answer types promote multiple answers, even for similar questions.

This guide covers the types of survey questions available and looks at what makes good survey questions. We'll also explore examples and give you access to sample survey questions as a template for writing your own.

Effectively using a different question and answer types lead to more engaging surveys. Properly incorporating the different types gives you more complete and accurate results.

Survey Questions

1. Dichotomous questions

Dichotomous is generally a "yes/no" question. It's often a screening question to filter those who don't fit the needs of the research.

Survey Questions - Dichotomous

For example, you want to know information about people who use your products. This type of question screens respondents to determine if they own your products. Those who have yet to buy move to the end of the survey.

Dichotomous questions can also separate respondents by a specific value. For example, this might be those who "have purchased" and those who "have yet to purchase" your products.

The survey then asks different question sets to the two groups. You may want to know the satisfaction of the "have purchased" group. On the other hand, you'll want to know why you're missing sales from the other group.

2. Multiple choice

The multiple-choice survey questions consist of three or more exhaustive, mutually exclusive categories. Ask for either single or multiple answers. In the following survey questions example, the user selects only one out of the seven provided. You could configure this question to allow users to select multiple answers, such as all of the above responses.

Survey Example:

Survey Questions - Multiple Choice

Remember to include a category for "other" answers to serve as a catch-all for users not represented in the choices you provide.

3. Rank order scaling

Rank order scaling types of survey questions allow ranking of brands or products. You list the brands or products and ask users to rank them on specific attributes or characteristics. Perhaps you know that Toyota, Honda, Mazda, and Ford sell best in your target market. You create a question for participants to rank the car brands based on an attribute, such as value. You may allow ties or not – it's up to you. Expect several options with the same score if you allow ties.

Rank order scaling Survey Example:

Survey Questions - Rank Order

4. Rating scale

A rating scale question requires a person to rate a product or brand along with a well-defined range. Rating scales measure the direction and intensity of attitudes.

Rating Scale Survey Question Example:

Survey Questions - Rating Scale

5. Semantic differential scale

The Semantic Differential Scale question asks a person to rate a product, brand, or company on a seven-point rating scale. The ends of the scale feature polar-opposite adjectives. A typical example is asking customers to rate their willingness to purchase the product again based on a range of "very unlikely" to "very likely."

Semantic Differential Scale Survey Example:

Survey Questions - Semantic Differential Scale

Unlike the rating scale, the semantic differential scale does not have a neutral or middle selection. A person must choose, to a certain extent, one or the other adjective.

6. Stapel scale

The stapel scale questionasks a person to rate a brand, product, or service according to a specific characteristic on a scale from -5 to +5. The rating range indicates how well the attribute describes the product or service.
Example:

Survey Questions - Staple Scale

7. Constant sum survey questions

A constant sum survey question permits the collection of "ratio" data. That means data can express the relative value or importance of the options. For example, if option A is twice as important as option B.

Constant sum survey example:

Survey Questions - Constant Sum

Use this question when you are relatively sure of the reasons for purchase. Total study items must equal 100 points. The program employs JavaScript to check the sum of the points.

8. Open-ended

The open ended survey question explores qualitative, in-depth aspects of a particular topic or issue. It gives a person the chance to respond in detail. Although open questions provide direct looks into a person's thoughts, don't overuse them. Open questions are time-consuming and require more effort. You might accidentally lower your number of responses.

A great way to incorporate an open question is through the "other" answer of multiple-choice questions. Add an open item after your multiple-choice to capture each user's response to "other." For example, you ask a person's favorite color. You include options for orange, green, blue, and "other." A person chooses "other" and can then explain their favorite color is yellow.


Example:
Survey Questions - Open Ended

9. Demographic survey questions

Demographic survey questions are an integral part of any survey. They are used to identify characteristics such as age, gender, income, race, geographic place of residence, number of children, and so forth. For example demographic questions will help you to classify the difference between product users and non-users. Perhaps most of your customers come from the Northeast, are between the ages of 50 and 65, and have incomes between $50,000 and $75,000.

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Demographic information is integral to the success of a survey. It identifies age, gender, income, race, geographic place of residence, number of children, and other essential qualifiers. Let's say most of your customers come from the Northeast, between the ages of 50 and 65, and have incomes between $50,000 and $75,000.

Demographic data helps you paint a more accurate picture of the groups you’re trying to understand. A better understanding of your audience allows you to allocate promotional resources effectively.

Example:
Survey Questions - Open Ended

Survey questions example templates also include psychographic and lifestyle topics. These questions provide an in-depth psychological profile and look at the activities, interests, and opinions of respondents.

10. Matrix table

Matrix table questions are in tabular format. Questions reside on the left of the table with answer options across the top. They are two-dimensional variants of multiple-choice questions. Multipoint scales allow respondents to select only one option per parameter, while multi-select will enable them to choose multiple options.
Spreadsheet converts text into organized tables that are easy for the respondents to complete.

Example:

Survey Questions - Matrix Table

11. Side-by-side matrix

Need to know multiple aspects of a single parameter? Use a side-by-side matrix for a visually appealing design. It gives you the option to define various rating options simultaneously. Consider that you need to know how important and satisfied a customer is with customer service. A side-by-side matrix allows you to ask about both at once. This layout also makes it easy to identify problem areas to make changes and improve your business.

Example:

Survey Questions - Side-By-Side Matrix

12. Static content

Static questions add value to your questionnaire through a display. Presentation text questions, a static type, usually separate different sections of a survey. You can also add headings and subheadings to the various parts of the study to make it aesthetically pleasing.


Example:
Survey Questions - Static Content

13. Miscellaneous

This category of survey questions captures a variety of data types. Depending on the purpose of the survey, you might want to collect a captcha code, date of birth, or point on a map.

Example:

Survey Questions - Miscellaneous Survey Question

14. Visual analog scale

The Visual analog scale allows you to increase the visual appeal of questions. For example, you ask participants to rate the services they receive. Text sliders and numeric sliders provide a convenient and engaging way to answer. Other options include social media sharing, thumbs up or down, and smiley-rating. Smiley ratings, in particular, are pleasant to the eyes and deliver a positive impact.

Example:

Survey Questions - Graphical Rating Type Survey Question

15. Image chooser

The use of images boosts user experience. Consider a lengthy article. Would you prefer to read a page of text or one with lots of attractive graphics? Most people choose the one with images.

Example:

Survey Questions - Image Chooser Type Survey Question

Put this theory into practice to increase user responses. Image questions allow the respondents an opportunity to select images from a list. Take the image chooser to the next level with a rate image matrix.

16. Data reference

Data reference questions gather and validate data against standard databases. A zip code, for example, is a type of data deference. Another option is Dynamic Lookup Tables. Use these tables to depict data according to rankings.

Example:

Survey Questions - Data Reference Survey Question

17. Upload data

This type allows users to upload documents, images, and more to their survey responses.

Example:

Survey Questions - Upload Data Survey Question

18. Net Promoter Score (NPS)

A Net Promoter Scoresurvey research questions measure brand shareability and customer satisfaction. It asks respondents to rate whether they'll recommend your company to their network on a scale of 0 to 10. The range divides those who answer into Promoters (9-10), Passives (7-8), and Detractors (0-6).

Your NPS helps you identify why customers are promoting or detracting from your brand. Patterns in the responses of Promoters and Detractors provide insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your business.

Example:

Survey Questions - Net Promoter Score Survey Question

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19. Choice model

Choice model survey questions include Conjoint Analysis and Maximum Difference Scaling.

Conjoint Analysis is one of the most accepted quantitative methods in market research. Use it to determine client preferences. For example, discover which product features customers prefer or how price changes influence sales.

Maximum Difference Scaling is an effective way to establish a relative ranking for up to 30 elements. They might include:

  • Features or benefits of a service
  • Areas for potential investment of resources
  • Interests and activities
  • Potential marketing messages for a new product
  • Products or Services in use

Example:

Survey Questions - Choice Model Survey Question

What are good survey questions?

Which question type should you use to get the best response rate? Does the language of the questions make a significant impact? How do you find good survey questions examples?

It turns out that it takes a little of both to get the perfect questions. Learn how to use question types to write great questions and get examples.

Check out our 250+ FREE & Ready-made Survey Templates.

  1. Keep things fair : Don't boast too much about your products or services. Limit your use of adjectives to avoid distancing your customers. You want your company to appear open to constructive criticism. Dodge questions like: "What do you feel about the warm welcome our staff gave at your arrival?" Respondents will prefer things like, "How did you like your welcome at our hotel?"

  2. Simple survey questions = better responses: Come up with items that are easy to understand and answer. Expecting respondents to answer essay-like questions repeatedly causes burnout and lowers response rate. Instead, focus on easy-to-answer issues that don't take too long.

  3. Don't ask just because you can: You may feel the need to get as much information as you can from a single survey. However, this temptation causes your study to veer off track. Many users see overly nosy surveys as suspicious and irritating.

  4. Skip what-ifs:Avoid cooking up situations your respondents may never face. You'll lower the response rate and receive fewer authentic answers. What-if scenarios that are relevant to your audience, however, could increase the effectiveness of your questionnaire.

  5. Ask "how:"A single select question like "Did you like our gym?" will get you either "yes" or "no." Skip the yes/no questions and focus on asking how your business did instead. For example, you could ask, "How did you find the services at our gym?" Answers could include "extremely professional," "moderately professional," and "not at all professional." This question captures detailed data and can lead to more actionable insights.

  6. Don't ask more than one question at once:The last thing you want is to confuse respondents. Asking two or more correlated items in one question will baffle your customers. Interlinking multiple topics also promotes the idea that neither is significant. Divide complicated topics into multiple questions for the most effective and reliable answers.

Additional sensitivities to keep in mind when creating good survey questions:

  1. If you have to ask sensitive questions, such as religion or political affiliation, place them next to the questions contextually related to them. This will make it easier for the respondents to understand why you're asking.

  2. Make the first questions simple, pleasant, and exciting.

  3. Include a question mark near the end of every question.

  4. Ensure all questions are grammatically correct and error-free.

  5. Avoid jargon and use terms and concepts that are easy for all respondents to understand.

Remember that simplicity and a direct approach inspire respondents to complete a survey.

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