What is it?

A short survey is a quantitative research technique designed to collect and measure feedback.

Why use it?

A short survey is an effective way to hear from a large group of people. Use them to understand key themes and trends, and to prioritise what’s most important for you to action or address.

Before you start

Is this tool right for you? To find out more about selecting the best tool, check out the project planner.

Check out the encouraging participation to motivate participation.

What you'll need

Time1 day to prepare, 2-3 weeks to collect results, 1 day for reflection.
BudgetIncentive budget of $200-300 + free or paid software.
EquipmentComputer, internet, free or paid software

Top tip

Work out what you need to know first and then determine the following three steps:

  • Choose the right moment
  • Ask the right questions
  • Respect your time and your attendees’ time.

Step by step

1. Establish what and when to measure

First, take a moment to consider the topics you would like to explore in the survey. Most short surveys are about 10 to 20 questions. This should allow you to collect feedback on five key areas of enquiry:

  • Who they are
  • Their relationship to you
  • Feedback on quality
  • Their attitudes and perceptions about you
  • Satisfaction and likelihood to recommend.

Get ideas and choose the right questions for you using our survey questionnaire template and question bank. Consider the right time to conduct your short survey – while thinking about what you want to measure.

2. Define your target respondents

Once you know what areas you’re going to explore, it’s time to define your target respondents. You might want to understand your members, all of your attendees or a combination.

You’ll also need to think about how you’ll access this group:

  • Ticketing database
  • E-newsletter subscribers
  • Social media network.

You can read more about this in the choose your research sample guide.

Lastly, you’ll need to design an incentive to entice people to respond. Read more about this in the encourage participation guide.

3. Decide how to collect and record information

You can collect information using the traditional pen and paper approach, but it’s recommended that you use an electronic device such as an iPad or other tablet. This way the information you collect is ready to analyse immediately without having to manually input data into an Excel spreadsheet, for example. Manual data entry takes time!

4. Program your survey

Next, you’ll need to choose an online tool to run your survey.  Once you have chosen your online tool, you’ll need to add your survey questions (from Step 1). Additional help and resources can be found on your online tool’s website.

If you’re using a paper survey, you’ll need to do this step in a word processing program such as Microsoft Word.

5. Consider privacy and access

At this point, you’ll also need to think about privacy and access.

Make sure you understand your privacy obligations using this privacy guide.

You can read about how to make your project accessible for everyone using this accessibility guide.

6. Invite people to participate

Option A: Conduct on-site intercepts

For a step by step on how to approach people and conduct intercepts on-site, check out the conduct on-site intercepts tool.

Option B: Invite target respondents via email

Now you’re ready to invite your target respondents to complete your short survey. Prepare your invitations to be sent out by email using this invitation template.

Be sure to mention five points:

  • Why you’re doing the research and how you’ll use the findings
  • What you’re offering participants (e.g. prize draw)
  • How long it will take and what to expect
  • Where they can complete the survey, including a link
  • How they can seek assistance.

You can read more about motivating attendance in the encourage participation guide.

Make sure to send a test to yourself before you send it to others.

Include your email address on your list, so you know when your email has gone out or if it doesn’t.

If you’re using an online survey tool, you may be able to set up a campaign to send emails out. Sending your survey out this way will allow you to ‘track’ who responds and who doesn’t. It will also allow you to send thank you emails to those who respond and reminders to those who haven’t.

If you’re sending an email, be sure to blind copy (BCC) all email addresses when distributing the survey, so personal details remain private.

7. Run your survey

Now you’re ready to launch your survey! At the beginning, closely monitor your survey responses to make sure it is working properly.

Be sure to check:

  • Your email invitation sent successfully
  • You’re getting enough responses
  • All questions are being answered
  • If any answers are big surprises
  • If there are lots of ‘Other’ responses – you might be missing something.

Send a reminder about one week in, or at the halfway point, and a final reminder about two days before the survey closes.

8. Close your survey

Close your survey and contact the prize winner/s. To analyse your results, head to the analyse your data tool.