Have you ever created an online survey and felt disappointed with the data you collected?
Have you ever been asked to answer a survey and felt irritated with the questions asked?
A good survey should consider both your needs for data and the capabilities and experiences of the respondents.
It should also collect complete, accurate and reliable data.
But have you received an email at 5pm asking you to complete a survey then to be entered into a prize draw for an Apple iPad or shopping vouchers..
And if you are like me, you have never won any of those online survey prizes!
But you feel demotivated to complete the survey due to its chemistry and feel.
So what do we know about the science of online surveys?
It may come as no surprise, but the connection between the number of questions in an online survey and the time spent answering each question is not linear. The more questions you ask, the less time your respondents spend, on average, answering each question. In other terms, the more questions and answers you wish to find out from your participants, then they will “speed” through it, and therefore, the quality and reliability of your data can suffer:
|Number of questions||Average seconds spent per question by a participant||Average Survey completion times|
|1||75 seconds||1 minute & 15 seconds|
|2||40 seconds||2 minutes|
|3-10||30 seconds||2-5 minutes|
|11-15||25 seconds||5-7 minutes|
|16-25||21 seconds||7-9 minutes|
|26-30||19 seconds||9-10 minutes|
On average, participants took over a minute to answer the first question in a survey, including any time spend reading through instructions. And then spend on average 5 minutes in total, answering a 10 question survey. However as you can see from the table above, participants take more time per question when responding to shorter surveys compared to longer surveys.
In essence, the longer the survey, the less time participants will interact and think about each question on its own merit.
Participants on average spend 75 seconds on one survey question. On the other hand, online surveys with 26+ questions, participant’s will on average spend less than 20 seconds on each.
Could we assume that longer surveys contain less thorough answers?
Not always, it depends on the type of survey, the audience, and the relationship of participants to surveyor, among other factors such as participants lifestyles and motivations.
However, data shows that the longer a survey is, the less time respondents spend answering each question.
In addition to the decreased time spent answering each question as surveys grow in length, survey abandon rates (participants who quit the survey before completing) increased for those that took more than 8 minutes to complete. And with completion rates dropping, sometimes anywhere from 5% to 25%. The patience for lengthier surveys is greater for those within the education and work sector, however decreases when they are customer facing.
What this means for you.
Take survey completion time into consideration as you design your next online survey. Make sure you’re balancing your participants profile and online survey goals with the total number of questions you’re asking so you can get the best data possible for the decisions you need to make. And if you do write a survey that has a low response rate, make sure you send it to enough recipients to get a good response rate.
So the next time you are using your online survey tool, think:
- Would you fully complete the survey?
- What is motivating you to complete the survey?
- Why do you want to quit the survey? Is it the timing when it was sent or the length?
What to do next.
Tweet @Jakepryszlak with your comments and how you are using your online survey tools to benefit your business and customers.
Test one of your own surveys..
How long did it take you to complete it?
Then tweet @Jakepryszlak with your answer and comments