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Types of Surveys Your Business Should Use

David Gargaro
David Gargaro

Businesses can leverage surveys to better understand their target market. Here's how to use surveys for your business.

  • Surveys provide businesses with feedback and information about customers' wants and needs.
  • Surveys can have different goals. For example, one survey might gauge your target audience's familiarity with your brand, while another might serve to drum up new leads.
  • Choose the right survey type for your goals. This guide includes nine types of surveys that can help your business.
  • This article is for entrepreneurs who want to improve their sales and marketing efforts by implementing data gathered from surveys.

Businesses across all industries collect data from multiple sources to help improve operations, increase sales, reduce costs and uncover product development opportunities. Surveys are one type of tool for collecting information from customers and employees.

Why surveys are important to businesses

Surveys allow a business to efficiently collect honest feedback, opinions and responses from customers and use that information to improve different areas of the business. Survey responses can confirm or provoke discussions on strategic business decisions and provide unbiased data to guide decision making. Feedback gleaned from surveys can also tell you what customers think about your brand and products, as well as provide a baseline for comparison over time.

Survey techniques

There are two main types of survey techniques:

  • Questionnaires consist of a list of questions that respondents can answer individually.
  • Interviews involve asking a respondent a series of questions and following up with additional questions based on their answers.

Types of surveys

The following types of surveys can help your business in different ways:

Market research survey

A market research survey enables you to gather information about your market, such as how and where your products are purchased, your customers' needs, your level of competitive positioning within an industry and your customer demographics. You can use this type of survey to research a specific target market, measure brand awareness, communicate with a specific audience, and identify product and pricing opportunities.

You can conduct a market research survey when you have no data about an audience or a product (e.g., to evaluate a target audience's feelings about a product you are about to launch). You can also build upon data you've already gathered and measure it against a benchmark (e.g., to see how a newly launched product is being perceived in the market one year after launch).

Market research surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:

  • Providing immediate data on what customers think about your products or services
  • Enabling you to collect data in a structured way so your company can develop strategies based on informed decisions
  • Revealing the strengths and weaknesses of your products or services

Lead generation survey

A lead generation survey enables you to gather contact information and some preferences from your target audience. It allows you to assemble a list of prospects who might be interested in purchasing your product or service.

A lead generation survey should be focused, as you don't want to turn off respondents with too many questions. It should include a minimal number of form fields for gathering contact data (e.g., first name, email address), an opt-in checkbox that grants you permission to contact respondents by email and a question related to their preferences regarding your product or service.

Lead generation surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:

  • Providing you with leads who have an interest in your product or service
  • Enabling you to qualify those leads by asking questions about their preferences and allowing you to determine their interests and how ready they are to purchase
  • Getting permission to contact prospects, as they will have opted in to fill out the survey

Brand awareness survey

A brand awareness survey enables you to determine how well your customers know your brand, the meaning of your name and logo, and what your brand stands for. It's important to be memorable so that customers will think of you when they're looking to purchase products or services.

Use the following metrics when creating a brand awareness survey:

  • Brand loyalty: how likely your audience is to return when making their next purchase
  • Brand identity: your audience's opinions toward your logo and branding elements
  • Brand image: what your audience associates with your brand
  • Brand recognition: how your audience recognizes your brand when they see it
  • Brand recall: how well your audience remembers your brand
  • Brand trust: how trustworthy your audience finds your brand

Creating brand awareness is essential for building an audience. You can use a brand awareness survey, as well as market research data, to create marketing that communicates your brand name and the associated products or services.

Brand awareness surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:

  • Measuring the effectiveness and performance of marketing strategies and investments
  • Enabling you to identify respondents' associations with your brand to uncover new business opportunities
  • Verifying that your brand is either perceived in a way that fits how you have been positioning it or demonstrating that there is room for improvement

Customer satisfaction survey

A customer satisfaction survey enables you to measure your customers' satisfaction with your company and your products or services. It can also help you to increase sales. Other customers will respond to positive reviews from other customers, especially if the reviews are published online. However, you cannot force customers to say they are satisfied or to fill out a customer satisfaction survey. Ask the right questions, and make it fun and inviting for customers to fill out.

Customer satisfaction surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:

  • Indicating whether customers are loyal to your brand and intend to repurchase your product
  • Determining whether customers are satisfied, increasing a customer's lifetime value and reducing churn
  • Measuring customers' satisfaction to address negative feedback, which will help reduce the amount of negative feedback published on social media
  • Enabling you to retain customers, which costs less than acquiring new ones
  • Identifying brand ambassadors (i.e., respondents who have indicated they are very satisfied with your product or service)

Event evaluation survey

An event evaluation survey enables you to get customer feedback on your event. It also measures the success of the event after it has concluded, which helps you improve future events (or determine whether they are worth doing).

The event evaluation survey can also help you determine how attendees viewed the event differently from how you viewed the event. Some attendees might not have enjoyed some parts of the event. Although you should evaluate every part, keep the survey as short as possible; some feedback is better than none. Match the tone of your event evaluation survey to the tone of the event (i.e., if it's a fun event, make the survey fun as well).

Event evaluation surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:

  • Collecting attendees' honest opinions and in-the-moment perceptions of the event
  • Providing your customers with an opportunity to interact with your brand
  • Allowing you to collect data to improve future events

Employee satisfaction survey

An employee satisfaction survey enables you to determine whether employees are satisfied with the work environment. It involves asking employees for feedback on different parts of the job and allowing them to list concerns or frustrations with the company. The survey should include questions about the company's atmosphere and how employees feel within the team environment. Positive survey responses can show that employee motivation is high and that there is a sense of strong team spirit.

Conduct the employee satisfaction survey annually, and keep doing it to monitor sentiment over time. Protect employees' anonymity when they are completing the survey, which will result in more honest answers.

Employee satisfaction surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:

  • Collecting insights and recommendations that will help you improve the company
  • Identifying areas of your business that might need improvement
  • Including employees in the process of improving the company, which will boost morale
  • Allowing you to track the improvement of employee satisfaction over time

Job satisfaction survey

A job satisfaction survey enables you to evaluate an individual employee's views on the company and determine how satisfied they are with their job. It is similar to an employee satisfaction survey, but it targets specific roles. Conducting a job satisfaction survey can directly influence employee morale, so protect employee confidentiality.

Job satisfaction surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:

  • Revealing direct insight into how employees work within their team
  • Providing actionable targets for employees to achieve based on the input, which will improve their communication skills, teamwork and ambition
  • Collecting data to support additional training or guidance
  • Connecting employees' job satisfaction to the quality of their work and the way they represent your company

Training evaluation survey

A training evaluation survey enables your employees to provide feedback and opinions on company training programs. The survey can ask about the quality of the training content, how relevant it is to their role and how well the instructor did. It can also help you evaluate how well the course content was understood, allowing you and the instructor to address issues promptly. Conducting a training evaluation survey will help you get the most out of your training budget and resources.

Training evaluation surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:

  • Evaluating the quality of the training, instructors and trainees
  • Keeping your company current with industry trends and supporting employees' growth
  • Increasing attendee productivity and satisfaction
  • Improving all elements of training and aligning the goals of training

Exit interview survey

An exit interview survey enables you to find out why employees choose to leave the company. People might leave due to personality conflicts, a lack of advancement opportunities, better financial incentives at other organizations or personal reasons. Identifying the reason for a departure tells you for certain why someone left, which will help you determine if you can do anything to improve.

When combined with other surveys related to employee satisfaction, the exit interview survey can provide valuable information on how to improve the work environment. In addition, this type of survey can identify what employees enjoy and what you are doing well.

Exit interview surveys can help you grow your business by doing the following:

  • Identifying ways to improve employees' roles and overall satisfaction
  • Reducing employee turnover by addressing issues at an early stage, which will help increase productivity and employee engagement
  • Helping you anticipate remaining employees' happiness, and reduce turnover and the associated costs

Key takeaway: There are many types of surveys that companies can use to achieve a variety of business goals. Which of these are right for your business?

Image Credit: fizkes / Getty Images
David Gargaro
David Gargaro
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
David Gargaro has been a freelance content writer and copy editor for more than 25 years. He has worked with companies across many different industries, including advertising, education, finance, publishing, law, real estate, and more. He has written articles, blog posts, case studies, and website content on a wide range of topics, such as rental housing, legislation, IT, human resources, marketing, finance, health, and small business. David has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Actuarial Science from the University of Toronto. He served as the managing editor of a small publishing company, and self-published a book called How to Run Your Company… Into the Ground. He enjoys reading fiction and non-fiction, listening to podcasts, watching hockey, and spending time with his family.