For data-driven event marketers, post-event surveys have the power to produce some of the most valuable data to evaluate the success of your event and to help you create better events in the future.
But creating the right level of insight goes far beyond plugging questions into an online form and hitting send—there's a science behind effective surveys.
We spoke with four survey experts to learn more about how to craft the ideal post-event survey that yields accurate results, maximizes engagement, and steers clear of common mistakes.
What do event managers need to consider before crafting a post-event survey?
Gautham G, Marketing Lead at Zoho Survey: Event managers need to remember one thing: Empathize with your audience. We use surveys to replace conversations. Word your surveys like a conversation rather than a high school test.
Jeff Kear, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Planning Pod: Always include a question to measure your Net Promoter Score (NPS). This is a scientifically proven question that measures the level of respondent satisfaction.
Dr. Fred Van Bennekom, Founder, Customer Feedback Architect and Survey Consultant of Great Brook: List the critical things you want to know about the event—logistics, content, speakers, etc., know how much time the respondents will give you, and decide on the medium for the survey.
What survey question advice do you have?
Gautham: Look at why you are creating the survey, and specify goals to help designate questions. Each question should be designed to reach and fulfill a specific part of your goal.
Dr. Kuehler: Avoid double-barreled questions—a question that asks about two themes in the same question. For example, “the presenter was knowledgeable and likable." It's entirely possible to be knowledgeable and not likable, or likeable and not very knowledgeable.
Kear: Follow the rule of ten questions or fewer, five minutes or fewer. By sticking to this rule, you give your survey the best chance of maximizing responses.
Dr. Van Bennekom: Look at the process flow for the event, and that might be the flow of the survey. For example, questions could follow pre-event registration, on-site check-in, speaking sessions, networking events and post-event activities.
How can event managers obtain quality survey responses?
Gautham: Would you talk to me if I didn't listen? In my experience, it's more effective to give respondents an emotional incentive rather than a monetary incentive. For example, send out a survey right after your event, and in the announcement tell participants how past surveys have helped you improve events and better serve attendees.
Dr. Kuehler: Have respondents complete the survey shortly after the event. Don't let too much time pass or they will lose motivation to take the survey and provide you with their thoughts.
Kear: Show people how much of the survey has been completed and/or how much remains. One thing respondents can't stand is getting hooked into a long survey that takes forever to complete.
Dr. Van Bennekom: Keep your survey short and simple, open with a meaningful question, and make it mobile friendly.
What's the best way to ensure survey participants provide the feedback you're looking for?
Gautham: Just ask. Something as simple as making your intention clear in the title can do wonders.
Dr. Kuehler: Test out questions before going live to get people's input on how they interpret your questions. Then refine before sending the survey to attendees.
Kear: Your survey should provide precise, nuanced information, which is easier to obtain from response scales than from yes/no or true/false questions. For example, using a scale like “on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the most likely and 1 being least likely" you can better gauge audience response.
Dr. Van Bennekom: It's important to design questions properly, but remember, you're looking for feedback that might surprise you, so always have an open-ended question at the end.
What common mistakes do you see?
Gautham: Things like repetitive questions, using jargon, cryptic language, or asking too many or inappropriate questions can turn off your respondents. Make your survey easy to answer.
Dr. Kuehler: Don't make respondents provide personal information, and don't market or sell to them. Make the process easy: get an email, click, answer questions and submit.
Kear: People not being precise or clear in the question they ask. If a respondent is confused about a question, they will either provide a response that may not accurately reflect their opinion (skewing your data), skip the question (leaving you with no data), or drop out of the survey entirely.
Dr. Van Bennekom: Event managers often don't ask questions about the facilities, but rooms that are too hot or too cold, or have uncomfortable chairs will affect the attendee's value received.
There you have it - survey tips from the experts. Put them into practice at your next event.