How to design effective surveys

Designing effective surveys is always a pain for any data analyst, product manager or marketing professional. If you’re like us, you’re constantly on the lookout for ways to save time. Make data-driven decisions that propel your business to success is our key priority, and what better way to do that than through customer discovery and product feedback?

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the art of designing effective surveys. At the same time, will provide you tips and tricks on how AI can help you to gather valuable insights and streamline the process. Let’s dive in!

Define Your Objectives

Identifying the Research Goals

Before jumping into designing effective survey, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. Define your research goals and the specific insights you need to gather.

Whether it’s understanding customer preferences, evaluating new features, or assessing user satisfaction, having well-defined objectives will shape your survey’s direction.

We can classify the different goals with the following groups:

  1. Exploratory Goals: These goals are focused on exploring a new topic or phenomenon where little is known. Qualitative research is often used to generate new insights, ideas, and hypotheses.
  2. Descriptive Goals: The aim here is to describe and understand the characteristics. Getting behaviors and experiences of a specific group or population.
  3. Understanding Goals: Understand the underlying reasons, motivations, and meanings behind individuals’ actions, beliefs, or opinions.
  4. Explanatory Goals: Aim to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables. It seeks to explain why certain outcomes occur based on the analysis of data.
  5. Evaluative Goals: Focus on the assessment of the effectiveness and satisfaction of services and products.

Understanding the Target Audience

Knowing your audience is key to crafting relevant survey questions. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what would be meaningful to them. Tailor your questions to their language and preferences, ensuring they feel engaged and understood.

Some of the most used Target Audience can be defined using the following groups:

  1. Customers/Users: Surveys often target current or past customers to gather feedback on their experiences with a product, service, or brand.
  2. Prospective Customers: Surveys may be directed at individuals who have shown interest in a product or service but have not made a purchase yet. This type of survey aims to understand their preferences and motivations.
  3. Employees: Employee surveys are conducted within organizations to gather feedback from employees. They focus on learning about their job satisfaction, work environment, and other relevant aspects.
  4. General Public: Surveys targeting the general public seek to gather opinions and attitudes on various topics that are relevant to a broader population.
  5. Industry Professionals: Surveys can be aimed at professionals within a specific industry. Gather insights and trends related to their field of expertise in a B2B approach.
  6. Community Members: Surveys targeted at community members that are loyal to certain brand. Focus on gathering feedback on local issues, community services, and other community-related matters.
  7. Stakeholders: Surveys may be conducted to gather input from stakeholders such as investors, partners, or government entities.
  8. Panel or Focus Group Participants: Surveys can be directed at individuals who have previously participated in a panel or focus group to obtain follow-up feedback.

A good exercise to define your Target Persona and Ideal Customer Profile is to follow the guidance from the following article from Forbes about Understanding your audience.

Outline the key hypothesis you seek to validate

Outline the key insights you aim to gain to design an effective survey. This will guide your question choices and analysis later on. Stay focused on obtaining actionable data that will drive your product decisions forward.

Product and marketing managers have to work with their customers discovery journey in mind. Is always positive to formulate hypotheses to guide the research and gather specific insights. Hypotheses are educated guesses or statements that suggest a potential relationship between variables or predict certain outcomes.

By formulating hypotheses, professionals can structure their survey questions to test and validate these assumptions. Here are some common types of hypotheses and their main structure that product managers might consider when preparing a survey:

Hypothesis always take into consideration the following elements:

  1. Current solution or situation of the customers/users
  2. Problem or assessment of this current solution
  3. Why is the status quo is the status quo
  4. Alternatives that could happen and the reasons why

On the other hand, the structure of the hypothesis normally follows one of these 2 logics:

  • I believe that <problem> happens for <user> because <pain point>.
  • I believe that <my product> will <drive change> for <user> because <reason for change>.

There are plenty of content in internet about product hypothesis and how to deal with them. Check it out!

target persona right approach survey

Decide the right survey based on your goals

When embarking on the journey of conducting surveys for your customer discovery process, one of the first crucial decisions you’ll encounter is choosing the right type of survey. You’ll find yourself weighing the merits of traditional static surveys versus dynamic surveys generated by AI. Each option comes with its own set of advantages and drawbacks, ultimately leading to the question of how much engagement and innovation you wish to infuse into your research.

  • If efficiency, engagement rates, and time-saving are on your priority list. Leveraging AI-powered tools might be the game-changing solution you seek. AI-generated surveys offer the flexibility of using open-ended questions, allowing participants to provide detailed and insightful responses. This empowers you to delve deep into the minds of your target audience, unearthing valuable perspectives and hidden sentiments.
  • On the other hand, maybe you just want to validate straightforward closed-ended questions. If you have specific multiple-choice inquiries in mind, traditional surveys could be the more fitting choice for your needs.

Static surveysAI conversational surveys
Purpose of the surveyOnly quantitativeQuantitative and Insights
Avoiding Biased and Leading QuestionsSteer clear of bias in your survey questions offering closed choicesThe AI will engage with customers with open questions to let customers talk
Length and Depth of the SurveyBe careful: boring multiple-choice inquiries have low engagement levelsConversation based surveys increase customers willingness to share their thoughts
Priorities and focusValidate strightforward close-ended questionsUse an AI assistant to explore and find out qualitative insights
AnalysisBuild your satistics based on the the closed-ended choicesUse the power of AI to collect the statistics & insights of the conversations
lost survey difficult read

Avoid risks in designing the survey

Independently of the survey type you pick, you always need to maximize engagement rate. Some of the following points can help you to improve your survey to make it fun and engaging. This will lead you to obtain better insights:

Organizing Questions Logically

If you are using traditional static surveys, it is extremely relevant to pay attention and spend time thinking in a logical flow. Start with broad questions and gradually delve into specific areas. This ensures a smooth and intuitive experience for respondents.

If you use AI surveys, this process gets automatically defined by the Artificial Intelligence. The assistant engages with your customers to cover all key objectives from the survey in a natural conversational way.

Making the Survey Mobile-Friendly

In today’s mobile-centric world, ensure your survey is easily accessible and navigable on various devices. A mobile-friendly design encourages participation and increases your response rate.

Using Progress Bars and Navigation Aids

Help your respondents track their progress through progress bars. Navigation aids, like the ability to go back and review previous answers, enhance the user experience.

Don’t Make It Boring

Engage your audience by using conversational language and injecting a touch of personality into your survey. A fun and approachable survey is more likely to keep respondents interested and provide authentic feedback.

Maintaining Consistent Branding

Customize your survey with your company’s branding. Consistent visuals and messaging build trust and reinforce your brand identity to design an effective survey.

pre test check survey validate usage

Conduct a pre-test to ensure everything works fine

Validating your survey with a small group of participants is critical. Product and marketing managers can identify potential issues and areas for improvement before deploying the survey to a larger audience. This iterative process helps ensure that the final survey is well-defined, easy to understand, and generates reliable and actionable insights.

When conducting a pre-test to verify if a survey is well-defined, the key components to consider include:

  1. Selecting a sample group: Choose a small group of individuals who represent your target audience. This sample group should be similar to the intended survey respondents to ensure the feedback received is relevant and meaningful.
  2. Pilot Testing: Administer the survey and observe their responses. Pay attention to how they interpret and answer the questions. Get attention to any difficulties they encounter.
  3. Analyzing Pre-Test Results: Carefully analyze the responses from the participants. Look for patterns, inconsistencies, and any unclear or ambiguous questions.
  4. Testing for Understanding: Compare the results you got with the survey questions. Check if they were clear by the pre-test participants. If any question was confusing, consider rephrasing or adding explanations for clarity.
  5. Assessing Question Length: Check the length of the survey. Assess if it was reasonable for pre-test participants to complete within a reasonable time frame. Avoid overwhelming participants with a long survey.
  6. Check for Bias and Leading Questions: Ensure that there are no leading questions that could influence participants’ responses or introduce bias into the data.
  7. Evaluating Survey Length: This is very relevant for text based surveys. Audio based surveys, instead, are faster to complete because AI can engage customers with conversations. Conversations help increasing the engagement. Excessively long text surveys might deter participation.
  8. Feedback Collection: Gather feedback from pre-test participants about their experience taking the survey. Encourage them to provide comments or suggestions for improvement.
  9. Making iterations: Based on the feedback from the pre-test adjust your survey. Make necessary improvements and refinements to the survey to enhance its clarity and effectiveness.

These 9 steps have to be repeated as many times as needed to ensure the survey will provide the desiered results.

AI converastional surveys have a clear advantage on solving some of these steps. The key element to consider in these surveys is to ensure the AI assistant have the right design to ensure the conversation runs towards the right goal.


Design an effective survey is undeniably crucial for professionals and indivuals managing data. Customer discovery and product feedback play pivotal roles in driving business success.

These sare some of the key elements we covered to improve your chances of success in your surveys:

  • Think before building: carefully defining your objectives, understanding your target audience, and formulating hypotheses
  • Avoid risks: focus on mobile-friendly experience, utilize progress bars and inject a touch of personality to keep respondents engaged.
  • Pre-test and iterate: critical step to verify your survey’s effectiveness and identify areas for improvement
  • Focus on engagement : if your users do not feel they are heard, they will not provide you with the right feedback to get the right data

After 2022, new AI technologies have proved to be a great help on top of the traditional static surveys. AI conversational surveys increase the level of engagement and innovation companies are looking after. AI-powered tools offer unprecedented efficiency and engagement experience. You can take now decisions delving deep into respondents’ minds with open-ended questions.

Embrace the art of survey design, and let data-driven decisions become your business’s cornerstone for success. Happy surveying!



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