What is it?

A strategic survey combines quantitative and qualitative research techniques to test and measure your strategic priorities and help you make the big decisions.

Why use it?

A strategic survey is an effective way to hear from a large group of people. It goes beyond a short survey – where you collect basic feedback – to more deeply understand key drivers, barriers and attitudes.

Insights from a strategic survey will help to inform your future decision making when it comes to things such as growing your membership base or piloting a new initiative.

Before you start

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

If you’re new to surveying, check out the send a short survey tool before you begin.

A key step in this tool is using what you learnt in your focus groups. Make sure you check out the run a focus group tool.

It is important to incentivise your strategic research. Read about how to motivate participation and avoid bias in the encouraging participation guide.

What you'll need

Time2 days to prepare, 2-3 weeks to collect results, 2 days for reflection + time to run a focus group
BudgetIncentive budget of $200-300 for a prize draw, free or paid software
EquipmentComputer, internet, free or paid software

Top tip

Strategic surveys are just that – strategic. They can be longer than a short survey and you’ll often be asking more from your respondents.

Make it count by doing the following four steps:

  • Get your key stakeholders on board from the beginning
  • Test your questions and ideas with qualitative research
  • Ask the right questions of the right people
  • Design an appropriate incentive to make sure your response rate is high enough to ensure your findings are reliable.

Step by step

1. Choose your moment

It is very important to carefully choose what you want to measure and when to measure. The right time to conduct your strategic survey will depend on a number of factors. Keep in mind some of the below points:

  • When do you need to build a case for funding?
  • When does your budgeting cycle takes place?
  • When do you need to know what type of shows to program?
  • When do you or your team have capacity to administer, analyse and action the findings effectively?

Make sure you have buy-in from key stakeholders with the help of this stakeholder guide.

2. Establish what you want to measure

Consider the big topics, trends, ideas or decisions you want to explore in the survey. A strategic survey should be 20+ questions, as this will allow you to collect feedback on 6-8key areas of enquiry. Your survey should include the basics from the send a short survey tool as well as one-three additional topics or ideas to test:


  1. Who they are
  2. Their relationship to you
  3. Feedback on quality
  4. Their attitudes and perceptions about you
  5. Satisfaction and likelihood to recommend.

Topics or ideas to test. Below are some examples:

  • Programming ideas or engagement activities
  • New offers, such as new opening hours or dinner-and-show packages
  • A new location
  • Ticket or membership prices and packages
  • Understanding the issues or challenges of your website, ticketing system or physical spaces
  • Understanding attitudes and perceptions about other cultural venues or activities in your local area
  • Understanding what other activities you’re competing with.

Get ideas and choose the right questions for you using the survey questionnaire template.

3. Define your target respondents

Once you know what areas you’re going to explore it’s time to define your ‘population’ or target group. Your target group could be your members, your attendees, or members of your local community. Alternatively, your target group could be people who haven’t engaged with your organisation.

You’ll need to think about how you’ll access your targeted group. Below are some ideas:

  • Ticketing database
  • E-newsletter subscribers
  • Social media network
  • Council databases, networks and newsletters
  • Local community groups and their networks.

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

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

4. Test it out with qualitative research

Before you launch your strategic survey, it’s a good idea to test your plans with a sample of people you want to hear from. This will help you to know what to ask when you’re writing your survey questions, including the best multiple-choice answers to choose from. You can do this using qualitative research, such as a series of focus groups, interviews or on-site intercepts.

To get a handle on running effective qualitative research use the run a focus group tool and the conduct on-site intercepts guide.

5. Program your survey

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 2). Additional help and resources can be found on your online tool’s website.

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

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

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

6. Invite target respondents

Now you’re ready to invite your target respondents to complete your survey. If using email, prepare your invitations using the invitation template. Be sure to mention five key points:

  • Why you’re doing the research and how you’ll use the findings
  • What you’re offering participants (e.g. incentives such as a 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 how to encourage research participation.

Make sure to send a test to yourself before you send it to others. Include your email address on your sender list, so you know when your email has gone out or if it doesn’t.

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 these five steps:

  • 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

Once you have enough respondents to ensure your findings are reliable, close your survey. At this point, you can contact the prize winner/s.

To analyse your results, head to the analyse your data tool.

Download the AMSRS Trade Promotion Lotteries Fact Sheet.