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How not to run surveys

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Saturday December 6, 2008 )

On one of my favorite sites over the last few months they’ve been running a survey – pretty badly. Given the way it’s been implemented, I doubt the the data they’ll receive will be of much value.

To start with, a box has been popping up intermittently the home page – with no close button. The box follows you down the page for a while, obscuring the content, then disappears. Popups are a powerful way to get attention about an offer, boost subscriptions and alert to surveys being run, but they should always, always, always have a button or link to close the darned thing.

After a few weeks of this happening every few days, I decided to investigate, if only to hopefully get rid of the damned box appearing again. The survey landing page didn’t really explain what the survey was about or why, how long it would take to complete and really offered no incentive.

There was a ton of questions asking quite personal and financial questions. It was also time for which I was not being paid. Peeved, I just answered with false information – and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Annoyed respondents do not make for detailed or accurate survey results :).

The most suprising thing was the site and company running the survey were not a Ma and Pa setup; both were well known companies that really should have known better. The experience certainly changed my view of the company behind the site.

Surveys are a wonderful way of gaining feedback or collating data that can be provided in reports and press releases (excellent linkbait), but they need to implemented correctly to ensure data integrity and so that you don’t lose valuable visitors.

Pick up some tips and tools for running surveys and online polls.


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