Surveys are a popular and effective way for companies, organizations, and individuals to gauge the opinions of their target audience, get insights, and decide on critical business decisions.
As such, surveys can be an important tool in measuring customer satisfaction or gauging public opinion on hot topics or issues. Surveys questions come in several types, but the two main types are closed-ended questions and open-ended questions.
This article will explore what these terms mean, how they affect your survey data collection efforts, and how you should use each type of questionnaire so that you can make the most out of your survey results!
When it comes to surveys, closed-ended questions are often better because they produce results that are easier to quantify and analyze. This is especially true if you're looking for a simple yes or no answer, or want respondents to rank items on a scale.
Open-ended questions can be great for getting qualitative data, but analyzing this information takes significantly more time and effort as the answers can vary wildly.
Additionally, closed-ended questions tend to generate responses more quickly than open-ended ones – which can be important when you're running a survey with a tight deadline.
A customer is more likely to fill out a quick and easy survey over having to make the effort of thinking about an answer, which may result in much lower response rates.
Finally, closed-ended questions are typically less ambiguous than open-ended ones, making them less likely to lead to misinterpretation or confusion.
When choosing between closed and open-ended questions, consider the following:
When you want to collect specific responses from your survey respondents, closed-ended questions help ensure that all participants answer the question, in the same way, making it easier to analyze and compare results.
When you need a large number of responses for your analysis, open-ended questions can produce more varied responses, but they also take more time for participants to complete. Closed-ended questions are typically quicker and easier for people to answer.
When you want to focus on opinion or attitude rather than detailed information about someone’s experience or behavior, open-ended questions can solicit long, detailed responses, which might not be relevant to your research question. Closed-ended questions are better suited for obtaining specific information.
No matter if you choose to use close-ended questions or open-ended, beware of going overboard and asking too many questions in one single survey, as a study made by Stanford University has proven that survey fatigue kicks in rather quickly.
A good way to offset this might be to include some kind of incentive to increase the survey response rates.
As you can see there are a few different ways on how to approach your surveys with different types of questions, but underlying all of this is the core principles that you should keep in mind:
Your goal with the survey questions should be to get a clear understanding, insights, and solid data about your customer's problems, needs, and desires.
These can include questions such as:
With that being said, now that you understand the difference between open and closed-ended questions, let's take a look at some tips for creating good survey questions:
Keep your questions clear and unambiguous: Make sure that everyone who takes the survey will have a consistent understanding of what you're asking.
Avoid bias: Ambiguous words can create problems with respondents interpreting the question differently than intended, leading to biased data collection results.
Consider using rating scales or Likert-type scales for measuring opinions: Scales are good at showing how people feel about different topics because they allow them to easily share their level of agreement on a specific issue.
Be careful with double-barreled questions: These types of questions ask more than one thing in each question, which can make it hard to get accurate responses from participants since they'll be confused by trying to answer two (or more) things at once.
Make sure questions are relevant to your research: Don't ask about things that aren't related to your study – this can lead to irrelevant data and wasted time for participants.
Below you'll find some great closed-ended examples to consider and take inspiration from when surveying customers for your marketing campaigns.
Facts are objective, while opinions can vary. A factual question would ask respondents to share their views about the weather (e.g., what was the temperature like on Tuesday), while opinion-based questions explore more subjective topics (e.g., how did you feel about that day's forecast?).
These types of survey questions allow respondents to select one answer from several listed possibilities; this is useful if you want responses that reflect a majority or at least a plurality of people's thinking or opinions, but you don't necessarily need to know the specific responses that individuals choose.
Yes/no questions are exactly what they sound like – respondents can only select one answer (either yes or no). These types of survey questions allow for easy data collection and analysis; however, there is little room for nuance when it comes to these answers.
When using digital marketing tools such as surveys, it's important to use both closed and open-ended questions so that you can capture both quantitative and qualitative data. However, it's also important to keep your audience in mind when choosing which type of question you're going to use.
Open-ended questions are great for gathering detailed responses, but can sometimes lead to respondent fatigue if there is too much text involved or the survey takes longer than expected.
Closed-ended questions, on the other hand, tend to produce more consistent results and take less time for participants – making them easier for people with busy schedules.
When designing your surveys, use both closed and open-ended questions to get a more complete understanding of your customer base.