Tips For Writing Survey Introductions: Don't Give Away the Cow

Don't Give Away the Cow in your Online Survey IntroductionIn the past, I've shared survey best practice tips for writing survey introductions - like the fact you should have one. But just like writing unbiased survey feedback questions can be tricky, so can writing survey questionnaire intros.

Survey intros aren't just standard, they're necessary. Why? Because if you don't tell a survey respondent what they will be answering questions about, you may find you have a lot of unqualified respondents in your survey sample. Does it make sense to have lawyers filling out a health care survey? Probably not. If you include some sort of introduction to the survey, either in the survey invitation or the welcome page, those lawyers will know the web based survey is not targeting them. Since they'll avoid your survey, you'll lower abandonment rates and the data collected will be more accurate.

What's the catch? Well, sometimes you can provide too much information in the introduction that will result in biasing your survey sample. Believe me, no survey creator wants that to happen. They spent a lot of time on questionnaire design and question writing, they don't want to bias their data. However, if you give too much information, it's the same as writing leading survey questions. You can also think of it as ruining the end of a book for a friend, or accidentally telling someone that the guy dies at the end of the movie. You don't want to ruin the end of the story any more than you want to share too much in the introduction.

It doesn't matter if you're conducting product feedback or consumer satisfaction surveys, this even applies to restaurant questionnaires and course evaluations, your survey should include a brief explanation of the project's purpose. Are you asking survey questions that measure customer experiences to improve employee training? Does your bank customer satisfaction survey aim to identify new services customers feel are missing? What about your professional development questionnaire, are you gauging the effectiveness of the training programs?

Always remember to keep your survey introduction short, no one wants to read a novel. But more importantly, you don't want to give away the cow. If you give away the cow, you may find your survey findings are less reliable than you'd like because you provided too much insight and basically led survey respondents down a specific way of thinking.
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