Website Surveys: Collecting Data to Meet Your Unique Research Needs
Website surveys are a critical means of collecting qualitative and quantitative feedback from users of your online portal. These surveys should possess a professional tone with easy to complete open-ended and close-ended questions.  There are a number of ways to generate these surveys. The most popular method is for respondents to receive surveys via email or social media. Another approach is for visitors to click a web link to view the survey. You can also embed a survey on your website.

The findings should enable the researcher to assess the overall success of the website and use the conclusions to make the necessary website improvements.
It's not easy to develop an effective survey, carefully select the targeted audience, send it, and then analyze the results.  Why should anyone go through all this time and effort?  Let's now explore the specifics.

Define the purpose or goal

You must be able to clearly and accurately explain your survey's objective(s) before conducting the research.  Each one of the following surveys addresses a specific research need:

Website feedback survey - When online businesses want to fully comprehend the user experience (UX), they conduct website feedback surveys. They enable you to capture input about your website's navigation, content, design elements, and much more. Such surveys usually contain questions like:
•    How satisfied are you with the look and feel of the website?
•    How easy was it to use the website?
•    How was the speed of the website as you navigated from page to page?
•    What browser did you use to visit the website?
•    How likely is that you would recommend the website to a friend or colleague?
•    Overall, how well does the website meet your needs?

Website redesign survey – Redesigning a website is often costly, labor intensive, and a subjective exercise taking many months of development. Whether you've redesigned the home page or the entire website, it's an excellent opportunity to test the new look or functionality via a survey before releasing it to the world.

Website redesign surveys typically take place before and after the redesign.  The audience is your user base so you can better grasp its needs and preferences.  The perceptions gained are then synthesized into a strategy to deliver on a new (and better) design or functionality that will please your audience. These surveys, usually conducted before and after the redesign, contain questions like:
•    What problems, if any, have you experienced with our website?
•    What aspects of our website are performing well for you?
•    What changes would you like to see on our website?
•    Any other comments or suggestions you would like to make?

User feedback: Understanding the voice of the customer (VOC) is essential for building and executing your marketing strategies. The feedback may cause you to make minor or major changes to the website's design and functionalities. Such surveys usually incorporate the following questions:

•    What is your job title?
•    What market or industry do you represent?
•    How did you find our site?
•    What did you hope to accomplish by visiting the site?
•    Did the site (or specific page) meet your expectations?
•    Did you consider any of our competitors, online and offline, before choosing our website?
•    Were you able to find the product (or data) you were looking for?
•    What could we do to make this website more useful for you?
•    What was your greatest fear or concern about placing an order with us?
•    How likely is that you would recommend the website to a friend or colleague?

Net Promoter Score ® (NPS) survey: This effective survey approach measures customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.  It asks your customers to rate the likelihood of recommending your products/services on a scale of 0 -10.  The responses will give you a fairly good handle on the appeal of your brand and the percentage of your customer base who can be identified as "loyal" and "extremely loyal". It will also dictate your investment in prospecting as you identify the percentage of customers who exhibit little or no retention value.  

Website exit survey – These surveys attempt to pinpoint the reason why visitors unexpectedly leave your website before completing the conversion goal.  The pop-up survey is ideal in such situations in order to better understand the reasons behind abandonment of your website. You can then design unique surveys for different exit points that exhibit high bounce rates. Such surveys, usually brief, incorporate the following questions:

•    What did you hope to accomplish by visiting our site?
•    How was your experience on our website?
•    Did you find the product (or service) you were looking for?
•    Did we meet your expectations?

Abandoned cart survey – Leaving a shopping cart without clicking on the "Order" button is one of the most frustrating aspects of hosting a website. While this is unfortunate, it's still a huge opportunity for ecommerce businesses. Well-executed abandoned cart surveys help you focus on the reason(s) behind the unexpected departure, e.g., issues with the checkout process, product/service pricing, discounting, shipping costs, sales tax, etc.  You can then use these insights to improve the conversion rate. Some companies even offer incentives to those who abandon their carts and do not return to the site to complete the order within a specified number of days. These brief surveys, usually of the pop-up variety, consist of questions like:

•    Did you forget something?
•    You chose not to complete your purchase today because of the following: (Please select your top 3 reasons)
•    We noticed that you didn't complete your order and would love to know why.
•    How would you compare our site with similar websites you regularly visit?

Keep it simple
Most respondents do not receive anything in return for completing a survey. They participate because your website provides them with value and, via the survey request, it's clear you value them. In order to maximize this motivation, it's beneficial to keep your surveys short and sweet.  Furthermore, if they respond "no" to one of your questions, it's essential you design the survey to employ branch logic, i.e., skip future time-consuming questions that will not apply to these respondents.  Keeping it simple increases response rates and will, ultimately, provide you with incredible insights into improving your website.

About the author:

Rich Nelson has been a senior marketing executive for over 35 years. The key focus throughout his career has been helping small to medium size businesses succeed in an ever-competitive marketplace.

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