6 Ways Surveys Can Alienate Their Audience

You're humming along on a website, looking for the last vital bit of information you need and at that precise moment it happens: Pop goes the survey. Between you and your answer is a pop-up survey. It's just one of the ways surveys get a bad name and turn off the very consumers needed to take them.

Intrusive pop-up surveys are certainly annoying. But there are plenty more ways to push people away from surveys.

Here are five more ways to turn off your audience:

  • Giving them a detailed survey to see if they can be surveyed. Talk about ways to annoy people... They give you their time, answer a bunch of questions and then find out that they're not qualified to take the survey. It's one of the most common complaints by people who take the time to complain about surveys.

  • Offering a palate of choices for answers that don't fit people's real world experience. If their answer is not on the list, what are they supposed to do? The result: they pick an answer that doesn't really fit and your results are skewed. Survey complainers say they'd like to see "none of the above" if the choices don't cover the actual possibilities someone might encounter.

  • Promising a survey will take a certain amount of time when it doesn't. If you got someone to participate with the promise that it will only take 5 minutes of their time, when they're about 15 minutes in they're going to start getting resentful. And out of spite, they might just give up and not finish.

  • Questions that seek responses that leaves most of your audience scratching their heads, like "If your favorite soup was an animal, what kind of animal would it be?" Open ended questions tend to turn off survey takers.

  • Asking for too much specific information that makes you work for an answer. How many people want to be digging through a pile of receipts or going through credit card bills to find the precise date of a purchase and the exact dollar amount?

If people are giving you their time, be honest with them and don't promise what you can't deliver. Five minutes is five minutes. Respect their time commitment. And a reward is a reward, not a sweepstakes entry. If you aren't overly intrusive, honest and offer a thoughtful palate of choices, you've done your part. Avoiding alienating the people whose opinion you need is a great first step to getting them to come back for more.