How to Create a Marketing Survey? (+ 10 Essential Tips)

marketing survey

Today’s business world is highly competitive and, because of this, it’s more crucial than ever before to understand your customers.

To succeed, you need to know the needs and preferences of your customers. Market surveys that are crafted with care and intent serve as valuable tools for gaining insights into each of these areas — without the stress of cold-calling!

Anyone can create a survey, but not everyone can create a survey that customers enjoy taking, which are two completely different things.

Creating a survey that target customers will want to take involves a measure of thoughtfulness, planning, and a mindset that prioritizes user experience.

In the following article, we’re digging into what it means to create a marketing survey that doesn’t bore your customers and what you should do to get started conducting your own market research.

Table of contents
1. Clearly define the survey objectives
2. Know your target markets well
3. Craft clear, concise survey questions
4. Choose the right format
5. Use open and close-ended questions
6. Consider user experience
7. Launch a pilot market research survey
8. Analyze and interpret survey results
9. Implement feedback loops
10. Repeat and improve

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1. Clearly define the survey objectives

Before diving into the fun part – the creation of your marketing survey-, it’s important to clearly define the objectives for the project at hand. What specific information do you want to gather from your customers?

Are you looking for feedback on a new product, exploring the current market trends, or do you want customer satisfaction information that you can evaluate?

If you can outline your goals with high certainty, the survey creation process will be kick started. The same certainty also ensures that your market research questions are targeted and relevant.

2. Know your target markets well

The first step to creating successful marketing surveys is to build a solid foundation by growing an understanding of your target audience.

Understanding your target audience’s customer demographics is the key foundation to crafting surveys that they identify with. If you want people to take your survey, it needs to be relevant.

Your target audience won’t be willing to take time out of their day to fill out a survey that has nothing to do with them, which further goes to show how important it is to know your target market.

Tailor your survey questions to address the things they’re interested in and like. Focus on their personal needs, too. Personalization is key here.

It’s also a good idea to take into consideration how specific your market research survey needs to be.

You don’t want to be targeting a demographic that is too broad (too big), but you also don’t want to be too specific in terms of who you’re targeting with your surveys.

Unfortunately, there’s a fine line (that can be very blurry) between these two extremes. Using too many filters to vet potential respondents before the survey will make it harder for you to find enough customers who qualify to complete the entire survey.

Say you filter respondents down to females who are 18-29 years old that live in Redding, California and who own a 2005 Buick. Using this set of highly-specific criteria, you’re going to get very few respondents who qualify to complete your survey.

On the contrary, the chances are actually higher that you won’t find anyone at all to complete the survey.

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3. Craft clear, concise survey questions

The quality of your survey questions significantly impacts how effective your online survey ends up being. You should aim for questions that are clear, straight-to-the-point, and free of “filler” (that is, extra words and unnecessary details).

Your questions don’t need to be detailed or contain descriptions unless they are for specification purposes.

Avoid using language that is too technical or industry-specific as to not confuse your target audience or dissuade them from continuing your survey.

For example, if you’re in the space industry, you wouldn’t want to put out a survey that contains long, relatively uncommon words like ‘Enceladus’ if you’re trying to gauge the opinions and preferences of people who aren’t astronomers by trade.

Instead, opt for straightforward questions that are easy to understand and answer.

Don’t worry about making your questions sound professional or impressive; instead, put the emphasis on gathering the appropriate information without overwhelming your customers. Simple questions receive better and more thoughtful input.

A market research survey that is poorly worded or that uses a question format that isn’t correct, can quickly render all of the data you manage to collect null and void.

Customer surveys that ask the wrong questions or that use poor wording can easily render your survey data useless.

If a question you write sees most respondents answering with “I don’t know” and similar answers, you have missed your goal of gaining customer feedback.

There are a host of different kinds of market research questions that can be used to gather data from target customers. Here are a few of the different kinds that you could consider using.

Use Categorical Questions

Categorical questions can also be called nominal questions. They produce numbers and percentages that can be used for easy data visualization.

They are great for creating visual data like bar graphs and pie charts, but don’t give enough information to gather numerical averages. In addition, they can’t test correlations.

Some of the most basic survey questions, yes/no questions, are categorical.

Multiple choice questions are, as well. However, they offer slightly more information than yes/no questions do, since you can add as many possible answers as you want.

Checkbox questions are extremely flexible and gives respondents the freedom to choose as many answers as they feel fit them. They are the questions that surveys ask that have respondents click any number of different boxes to select their answer(s).

They are also a type of categorical question.

4. Choose the right format

There are various survey formats available for use. Each one is suited to different objectives and types of information, which makes it important to know which type should be used for what purpose. Common survey types include:

  • Customer satisfaction: used for understanding the level of satisfaction your customers have with your product, service, or company as a whole.
  • NPS: used to measure who likely a customer is to recommend your business. NPS surveys are also used to gauge customer loyalty.
  • Market research: used to gain accurate insights and information about your target market.Consider your goals and their nature, as well as the type of data you’re looking to collect when selecting the appropriate type of survey for your needs.

5. Use open and close-ended questions

For a marketing survey to be effective, it should have an equal balance of open-ended and close-ended questions, if possible. Close-ended questions are questions like multiple choice questions or asking for ratings,

Marketing surveys that are effective have a balance of closed-ended and open-ended questions. Closed-ended questions -multiple choice or questions that ask for ratings- provide quantitative data that is easy to analyze and make use of.

However, open-ended questions are great for allowing respondents to give feedback in more detail by using their own words.

By including both types of questions in your surveys, you’re rewarded with valuable sneak peaks into how your customers perceive your business on a personal, individual level.

a. Open-ended questions

There are an endless number of market research questions we could use as examples for open-ended questions. Questions that start with the following phrases are open-ended:

  • What do you think of/about
  • How do you feel about
  • How would you describe
  • Describe
  • Tell us about

b. Close-ended questions

While close-ended questions are not as fun for respondents to answer (and don’t give results that are as detailed as their open-ended counterparts), there is a time and place for using them.

Examples of close-ended questions include those that start with:

  • Do you like…
  • Have you ever…
  • Are you going to…

These kinds of questions are best answered with simple, yes/no answers, which is what makes them close-ended. Since the question doesn’t prompt the respondant to elaborate on their answer, a yes or no will suffice, effectively “closing” the conversation.

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6. Consider user experience

A user’s experience plays a critical role in the success of your market research survey.

Surveys should always be easy to access and be designed for navigation across a wide variety of different platforms and devices.

Designs should be intuitive and clean, boasting potent visual cues and clear instructions that work to effortlessly guide customers through the survey.

Special attention should be paid to page layout, load time, and interactive elements — each of these facets should work with the others like a well-oiled machine.

7. Launch a pilot market research survey

Before launching your market research survey to your target market and customer base, conduct a quick pilot test using a group of willing respondents who are interested in helping you out.

A trial run-type test, a pilot survey will help you to easily identify flaws in your survey design, which allows you to make any adjustments that might be necessary before the survey goes live.

After the pilot has launched, pay attention to how your respondents interact with it. Collecting feedback after the pilot will leave you with a ton of valuable information to work with moving forward.

8. Analyze and interpret survey results

Once you’ve gathered enough market research data that you can use, it’s time to move onto the next step — analyzing and interpreting the market research data to make improvements!

In the data you’ve collected, be sure to watch out for patterns and recurring themes.

You can use pie charts, bar graphs, and other visualization tools to showcase your findings. Visualization tools are an easy way to draw attention to important information, since humans are highly visual creatures and we are drawn to images.

Asking your existing customers follow-up questions is a smart way to put market research data to good use.

Take note of ways that you could improve the effectiveness of your existing marketing strategies and marketing activities; don’t simply ask the questions and try to remember the results!

Recording the data on paper (or your computer) is the best way to track it.

Are there any strategies that you could make better? More effective? How about more engaging?

Carefully analyzing the results of your market research surveys uncovers insights that can be used to make future decisions surrounding your business’ growth.

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9. Implement feedback loops

Once you’ve gathered your information, it’s important to use the information for something. So, make use of the valuable insights you gained from your survey by using them to implement feedback loops!

A feedback loop is the process of gathering information from customers and then using it to make changes related to the operation of your business. It’s a loop, like the name suggests.

Share your market survey research with your team (if you have one) and discuss potential changes that could be made based on the feedback received, successfully bringing the loop to completion.

By incorporating feedback loops, you demonstrate to your customers that their opinions are valued – and valid.

It also reassures them that your business is dedicated to improving their experience, which goes a long way when it comes to retaining loyal customers.

Implementing feedback loops can be done in a number of different ways, but one awesome example is everyone’s favorite streaming service– Netflix.

Netflix implements watcher feedback on a regular basis.

Their loop starts when they publish a piece of content for streaming. From there, they monitor how it performs by tracking how many people watch it and, if they don’t finish it, how far they got before the switched it off.

Once they’ve gathered those numbers they use the data to decide whether they keep the content live or if they delete and replace it with something else. This feedback also plays into which content is posted in the future and helps to draw in potential customers.

10. Repeat and improve

Successful marketing research surveys are not simply one-time jobs. They’re an ongoing process of repetition and improvement that should spend minimal amounts of time being stagnant.

Survey questions should be regularly reviewed and updated to reflect current customer needs and the dynamic objectives of your business.

Feedback about survey experiences should be gathered from both loyal customers and new customers. This feedback should then be incorporated and considered when making future changes, regardless of the reason for them.

By continually refining your marketing efforts, you can ensure that your market research surveys remain effective, relevant, and engaging to your target market and that your data quality never suffers.


To create a marketing survey that your customers love, you must take the time to plan, utilize thoughtful designs, and gain a deep understanding of your target audience.

By carefully following the steps we’ve outlined above, you’ll be able to design and run market research surveys that capture valuable data while simultaneously engaging and resonating with your audience.

Don’t forget to define clear objectives for your market research survey, learn about your audience, craft appropriate questions while striking just the right balance between open and close-ended questions, and choose the right survey format for your needs.

A focus should be put on user experience and a pilot test should be ran for maximum insight gain.

Using the right approach, a well-designed marketing survey can be a powerful tool for gaining insights into consumer attitudes, driving customer engagement, and making informed decisions regarding your business.

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