Running an event wouldn’t be complete without sending attendees a post-event survey. It’s not a task you do just to ‘tick the box’. As mentioned in our last post What to Include in a Post-Event Report, post-event surveys are important, they inform decisions for future events and assist you to write your post-event report.
Post-event surveys are vital to keep your events fresh, give you the opportunity to learn from attendees and refine your events.Change is good, it keeps #events fresh & gives you the opportunity to learn from attendees… Click To Tweet
1. Planning your post-event survey questions
Carefully thought out questions will serve you best and give the most helpful answers. When designing questions, think about why you’re asking the question and what the feedback means for future events.
This is not to say don’t ask the tough questions or questions you don’t want to know the answers to – these are the questions you SHOULD ask!
There’s one key rule to follow when writing a survey – design your questions based on your event objectives. This is how you will measure the event success from an attendee’s point of view, after all they’re the ones you’re running the event for!
2. Apply SMART criteria to your survey questions
When we write our event and marketing objectives, we apply SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely). This is also a great method to use when creating your survey questions.
Let’s start with specific, make questions specific! If you completed our survey above, the reason answering ‘yes’ to the questions was the wrong answer, is because the questions aren’t specific. The answer to ‘Did you enjoy the event’, Yes/No, isn’t going to help you narrow in on what they actually enjoyed or didn’t enjoy about the event. You won’t know from this question what you should keep doing and what you need to improve on. Expand on questions and get specific.
Long-winded questions confuse respondents and won’t produce accurate data – keep questions short and specific.
Not all questions are measurable and that’s ok. Questions where you’re asking for written responses may not be measure BUT they are helpful to identify common themes.
It’s important to write questions with actionable responses. If you ask a question and you know you’ll never be able to action possible answers, it’s probably not a good question.
This leads us nicely to realistic, only ask questions that are realistic. Asking respondents if they’d like Coldplay to sing during breaks is not something you can realistically deliver. This might be an extreme example but it proves the point that being realistic when designing your questions is important.
We’ll talk about timely later in this post.
3. What questions to focus on
At the core of your survey, you want to know if attendees enjoyed the event; if the programme was the right mix; how the speakers rated; if the venue/location was suitable; if attendees would attend again; and if they’d recommend your event to a friend of colleague. Some of these questions require you to ask multiple questions to get specific answers.
Use question logic to avoid asking questions that aren’t relevant to the respondent – there’s no point asking what they thought of a session if they didn’t attend that session. Question logic lets people skip questions or guides them through a series of alternative questions based on their previous answer.
Use a mixture of question types such as matrix, radio buttons, multiple choice and ratings to best represent the question, give you accurate data and keep respondents interested.
Let the respondent add their own feedback in comment boxes for a few questions in your survey. This is where you’re likely to find the best feedback on how you can improve your events. Comments in post-event surveys also make great testimonials for future event marketing. Remember to ask for permission before crediting a name to the quote.
4. Creating easy to complete surveys
Let’s be realistic, very few people enjoy completing surveys. To get a good response rate and encourage people to complete your full survey, keep it simple. The industry average for survey completion is 30-40% for internal and 10-15% for external surveys.
Here are some ways to make your surveys easy to complete:
- Keep surveys under 5 minutes to complete.
- Add a progress bar so people know how far though the survey they are.
- Section out questions and make your survey interesting for respondents to complete. Take them on a journey where they want to get all the way to the end.
- Keep questions short, avoid jargon and be direct.
- Ask one question at a time. Questions like, “Did you like the food and entertainment during the first break?” are two separate questions.
- Mix up the question types. Use a mixture of multiple choice, matrix, radio buttons, sliders and open text questions.
- Use question logic to help guide respondents through the survey.
- Look at ways to simplify questions. The use of the 5 point face scale is becoming very popular. It plays on people’s emotions and is a fun and simple way to engage respondents. To get more in-depth data from a 5 point face scale, apply question logic.
- Avoid paper surveys. With so much technology at our fingertips, there’s no need for attendees to complete paper surveys. This is not fun for them, nor for the staff member doing the data entry (and it will cost you time and money).
5. Timely post-event surveys
Timing is everything with post-event surveys. It’s best to send surveys within 24 hours of your event ending, while the event is fresh in the attendee’s head. Keep surveys open for one to two weeks and send a reminder email half-way through to get more responses.
Prepare surveys before the event and if possible, schedule your survey send. Your post-event survey can go live as soon as the event finishes.
Think about ways you can get attendees to answer questions during the event to reduce the amount of questions you ask in your post-event survey. Event app polls let you collect real-time data while attendees are still engaged. There are also electronic displays where attendees can respond on the way out of a session or events. You can easily do this at your event using iPads.
6. Survey tools
There are plenty of tools to create and send out surveys. They offer similar options and most have a free plan with the basic features. One of the most important things to consider when choosing your survey tool is the ability for respondents to complete the survey on a mobile phone, so look for tools with responsive themes.
Here are four of the most popular survey tools:
- Survey monkey
- Typeform – we used Typeform to create our survey above.
- Event apps – send out your post-event survey inside the app or send push notifications to attendees with a link to complete the survey.
7. Review feedback
As we said earlier, post-event surveys aren’t just a box to tick, they’re packed with golden nuggets of feedback that can transform future events. Who better to help you design your next event than past attendees.
Finish up your post-event survey by summarising responses, ranking speakers, identify themes, make recommendations for future events. You’ll need the survey data to complete your post-event report, sponsorship reports and give feedback to speakers. It’s important to provide feedback to speakers to help them learn how they can improve or know if they have their content right.
Post-event surveys are hugely valuable, there’s no other way that you can get such in-depth feedback. If you design your questions right and deliver your survey to attendees in a clear and timely manner, you could transform your events and attract even bigger numbers for future events.
Over to you
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