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In today's data-driven world, surveys are indispensable for gathering insights, understanding preferences, and making informed decisions. However, without proper planning and execution, they can fail to deliver accurate and meaningful results.

Did you know that according to recent studies, over 70% of respondents admit to abandoning surveys halfway through due to poor design or length?

Additionally, approximately 80% of survey respondents feel more inclined to provide accurate and thoughtful responses when they perceive the survey as well-structured and easy to navigate. 

These statistics underscore the significance of implementing survey best practices to maximize participation and data quality.

Considering how important it is to implement survey best practices, in this blog, we’ll share 16 essential survey best practices to ensure your data collection efforts yield meaningful results.

Whether you're conducting market research, gathering feedback, or studying opinions, following best practices is essential for success.

Let's unlock the secrets to survey success together.

Survey at a Telecom Giant

You have the famous survey at GTE (the most prominent independent telephone company in the United States), for instance, which in the mid-1990s accurately deciphered that performance in billing operations was closely linked to managers’ leadership style.

Acting upon the insight, it trained managers to ‘adjust’ their behavior, improving overall billing accuracy by 22% - and by another 24% the year after—an excellent example of a survey that delivered what it set out to do.

On the other hand, you have the case of United Parcel Service, which, in 1997, ran into a worker strike barely months after scoring impressively on its workplace morale survey. As it turned out, the survey had failed to detect grievances against the company's rising culture of part-time jobs. The strike proved costly for the organization.

16 Best practices for conducting surveys

Here are 16 best practices for conducting surveys that you must know to run a successful survey.

1. Make them feel special

Start by telling the respondent that you genuinely appreciate their taking the time and making an effort to participate in your survey. Pad up that thought by adding how valuable their views are for the success of your project.

After careful selection and consideration, if you have chosen them, play up the angle by stressing that they are part of an exclusive and hand-picked group to which this survey is going.

And do express your gratitude - a short message after every three questions can be very effective, followed by a more in-depth one at the end of the survey.

2. Narrow your goals

Narrow your focus to the exact goal/s you are trying to achieve. Limit the critical goals to as few as possible.

This way, not only will you be able to probe deeper into each area (and take up less of your respondent’s time), but you will also end up with more ‘meaningful data’ that is easier to manage.

‘Squeaky Wheel Syndrome’ refers to giving more importance to questions in the front burner or at the top of mind.

However, doing so may make your survey lopsided or skewed. Have a fair balance of questions covering all relevant angles and perspectives so that the results are unbiased and valuable.

3. Watch out for sampling errors

Ensure your ‘Focus Group’ selection is correct and unbiased. If you want to survey kids’ eating habits, don’t shoot your mail to singles. If you want feedback on your new meat grill, don’t share the survey with vegans. You get the idea.

Sub-groups within the population, for example, may ‘tamper’ the findings and make the result ‘ungeneralizable’ since it includes the opinion of people who are not part of your ‘focus group.’

To ensure your questionnaire reaches suitable and relevant people for your study, send it to smaller clusters across different geographies.

The other ‘solution’ is to over-sample to cover as much of the right demographic as possible. However, sampling errors are a stubborn problem in ‘survey country,’ and while you can minimize it, you may not be able to eliminate it.

4. Stay balanced and avoid the squeaky wheel syndrome

‘Squeaky Wheel Syndrome’ refers to the practice of giving more importance to questions that are on the front burner or at the top of mind.

However, doing so may make your survey lopsided or skewed. Have a fair balance of questions covering all relevant angles and perspectives so that the results are unbiased and valuable.

5. Don't get too personal

Don’t get too personal with your questions. Demographic details like age, sex, location, and others will already be there with you, so questions around these will only make your survey sound unprofessional.

Probing into personal and professional details may make your database more granular but may tick the user off. Treating the middle ground with only as much information as you need is best.

6. Keep it simple and logical.

Design your questions in such a way that the respondent:

  • Can answer the questions in any order or way - unless there is a good reason behind the sequence you have designed.
  • Isn’t rushed to complete the questionnaire within a fixed timeline (or, worse, a ticking clock).
  • Isn’t forced to open a dictionary for every 6th word: Ensure the survey isn’t stuffed with fancy words, complicated terms, or industry/trade jargon.
  • Has the liberty to skip a question and move on to the next.
  • Doesn’t have to ‘find the hidden question in the picture’ you are not designing a game for kids.
  • Don’t create compound or layered questions (using triggers like ‘and,’ ‘or,’ ‘not,’ ‘nevertheless,’ ‘however,’ ‘then,’ etc., which effectively packs two or three questions in one). Keep the tone clear, unoffensive, and convincing.

7. Keep it short and sweet

The best surveys are thought-provoking, not time-consuming. They also respect the respondent’s time. Keep visual elements to a minimum to avoid clutter, engage them in a warm and friendly voice, and resist the temptation to cram everything.

See if you can trim down strategy level / long-term questions (save them for another survey) and go for tactical level probes to action over the next six months.

8. Assuming subject familiarity is a bad idea

Don’t assume your respondent has advanced or expert knowledge of the subject. If you are surveying professionals, you still have to factor in reasonable limits of familiarity (remember, if they skip the question, it’s your loss, not theirs).

Provide an easy way for them to access information if they need more clarity on a question. (you can provide sidenotes, footer notes, or Google links)

9. Prompting questions

“We have recently launched a world-class product that boosts productivity, helps save time and cost, and has garnered a 95% rating on Amazon - if you have used it, we would like to know what you think” is a leading question.

A leading question contains built-in information that - without intending to - biases the response. Taking objectivity out of the equation robs you of what could have been a genuine insight.

10. Limit the number of 'open-ended' questions

An open-ended question cannot be answered in a Yes or a No. They demand a descriptive answer which makes the respondent think and share their feelings and opinions. Open-ended questions are essential to qualitative market research because they provide unique insight and value, something you probably couldn’t have targeted in a yes-no format.

However, having too many open-ended questions can mean ending up with reams of text to decipher (especially if it’s an extensive survey), so limit them to 2 or 3, and plan their theme and wording carefully to cover all the angles you need.

11. User interval questions

Most of us hate being tied down to a commitment. This is because, most of the time, the truth lies somewhere in the grey zone between black and white.

A straightforward Yes-No or Agree-Disagree won’t provide an accurate insight in such cases. Give your respondent broad leeways to play around, such as an Awe-some > Good > Ok > Bad > Terrible or a simple 1 to 5 grading.

12. Keep the rating framework objective (and consistent throughout)

Ratings are potential pitfall zones for two reasons. They may display the ‘letter’ but hide the ‘spirit’ (intent) of the response. For example, a rating of 7 may denote an improvement from 6 or a climb-down from 8, but there’s no way to tell which.

Cracking this isn’t always easy since specific themes that are subjective are, by nature, not conducive to a clinically ‘even’ standardization. Try to remove grey areas and make the question as ‘basic’ as possible.

13. Be wary of duplicate results

If you offer an incentive or reward, people may try to fill up the same survey with multiple items to increase their chances of winning (a lucky draw, for instance).

Address this common syndrome by adding a protocol forbidding anyone from participating more than once.

14. Integrate technology

SaaS companies like Xoxoday, for instance, help you automate the entire process - from configurable & DIY tools to access control across hierarchies to the omnichannel presence (mobiles, for example, make it easy for participants to take the survey at their convenient time and place) to digital reports & actionable analytics.

15. Take advantage of "the follow-up question."

Your survey need not end with your survey. Asking follow-up questions helps you understand why a participant answered a survey in a certain way and unearth valuable insights you may have missed out on ‘the first time around.

This is your opportunity to drill deeper into important angles and aspects, clarify unclear or inconsistent responses (either through details or context), and get more information on viewpoints you found intriguing (and find worth pursuing further).

General, open-ended questions on your product, room(s) for improvement, the recipients’ persona (emotions, events, and visions that influence them) and, in deed, the survey itself: How well, or poorly, they thought it was organized.

16. Stay in touch

Treat your survey as a gateway to a long-lasting relationship rather than a one-off encounter. For instance, keep your word if you have promised them an update or a favor.

If you have told them that their feedback means a lot to you, prove it by sharing details of its impact on your project or business.

Keep them ‘in the loop’ by sharing exciting tidbits on your journey (reminding them that their survey had a hand in shaping it) from time to time - thereby keeping your brand and product top of mind and nurturing bridges for the following survey.

How does Nielsen automate its market research rewards with Xoxoday using RaaS API?

Here’s how Nielsen, the world’s largest consumer research company, automated its market research rewards with Plum by Xoxoday using RaaS API.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings is the largest consumer research company in the world. For more than 50 years, Nielsen has provided businesses worldwide with critical insight into consumer behavior.

Nielsen fuels the media industry with the most accurate understanding of what people listen to and watch. To discover what audiences love, they measure analytics across all channels and platforms—from podcasts to streaming TV to social media.


Before Xoxoday was implemented, procurement and dispatch of the rewards were done manually, as a result, managing panel rewards was a time-consuming process involving logistics and operational challenges. Privacy was also a concern as they disclosed the panel members’ details to the vendor.

With thousands of surveys being done regularly, they desperately needed a streamlined and automated incentive system for the panel members and survey participants. They also found it hard to calculate analytics and reporting on reward redemption patterns.

The solution offered by Xoxoday

With Plum, we offered automation of the reward distribution process, leading to better redemption rates with reduced time investment. Xoxoday also helped incentivize panelists and manage rewards in a single dashboard. We offered them the solution through our RaaS API product to integrate seamlessly with their existing system.

Nielsen supercharged their incentive programs with instant rewards upon completing the survey or providing feedback with the API solution. After survey completion, an automated voucher is distributed to the panelists, who can choose from a vast catalog covering 100+ countries. With this arrangement, Nielsen can also keep their data safe by not sharing the details of panel members with Xoxoday.

With the solution, Nielsen adapted to a post-COVID world with instant rewards to their online participants. They were also able to implement the solution in days without inconveniencing Nielsen.

How does it work?

Xoxoday provides developer APIs with web services that allow Niels-en to integrate and sell gift cards and e-gift cards on their websites and mobile applications. End-users could browse the vouchers and select and purchase using their reward points or payment gateway.

In addition, a single intuitive dashboard provides detailed reporting and analytics on the number of orders placed, orders received, the amount paid, and more.

Results in just 1.5 months

With Xoxoday, Nielsen can instantly deliver rewards across devices through emails and SMSes sent directly to the end-user through encrypted voucher codes. With a rich international catalog covering 21,000+ experiences, gift vouchers, and products to choose from, panelists are spoilt for choice.

A dedicated customer support team and an account manager were allocated to Nielsen to provide seamless service, help them set up, get onboard, and facilitate post-sales support.

The integration of the platform was easy, with simple onboarding steps. As a result, Xoxoday delivered more than 700 rewards in just 45 days. In addition, Xoxoday implemented rewards in 2 more panel programs within one month of the launch.

Xoxoday has been very responsive so far, be it resolving an urgent contingency or any requirement. Its APIs were very responsive with 100% uptime.

Their support team has also been very transparent, cooperative, and understanding when resolving issues, and they were very flexible. The panel experience has been excellent, and we plan to expand our business with them.

Ravi Gour
Regional Panel Leader
(Asia - Pacific) Nielsen

Ottum Research & Consulting automates survey rewards with Xoxoday and SurveyMonkey integration

Ottum Research & Consulting, a leading market research firm specializing in customer insights, faced challenges in efficiently managing survey rewards for their campaigns. Brian D. Ottum, Ph.D., the Customer Insights & Analytics Consultant at Ottum, recognized the need for automation to streamline the rewards process and improve overall survey response rates.


Previously, Ottum Research & Consulting relied on a manual process for procuring, distributing, and tracking survey rewards. This approach was time-consuming, resource-intensive, and prone to errors. Challenges included negotiating with multiple vendors, upfront payment for reward inventory, and poor user redemption experiences due to manual fulfillment processes.


Ottum Research & Consulting implemented the Xoxoday and SurveyMonkey integration to address these challenges. This allowed them to automate the rewards fulfillment process seamlessly. 

Key features of the solution included

  • Native integration: Xoxoday integrated directly with SurveyMonkey, enabling Ottum's team to easily automate survey rewards.
  • Flexible rewards options: Ottum's team could choose from a global rewards catalog and opted for instant $20 Amazon gift cards to incentivize survey respondents.
  • Instant delivery: Respondents received their Amazon gift cards immediately upon survey submission, enhancing their satisfaction and cooperation.
  • Time efficiency: Automation saved the Ottum team approximately 5-10 minutes per respondent, resulting in significant time savings over the course of the campaign.
  • Cost savings: Plum's value-based pricing model, which charges only on reward redemption, helped Ottum Research & Consulting reduce campaign costs by $1000.
Brian D. Ottum expressed his satisfaction with the Xoxoday integration, highlighting its seamless integration with SurveyMonkey and the positive impact on their survey processes. He plans to continue utilizing Plum for future survey campaigns.

Future plans

Having succeeded with its initial survey campaign, Ottum Research & Consulting plans to scale its efforts by incorporating Plum rewards into new campaigns across different sales and marketing verticals. This will enable them to gather valuable insights efficiently while enhancing respondent satisfaction.

By leveraging the Xoxoday and SurveyMonkey integration, Ottum Research & Consulting overcame their challenges related to survey rewards management. The automated solution improved response rates and saved time and costs, demonstrating the effectiveness of integrating technology into market research processes.


Mastering survey conduct empowers you to harness invaluable insights that shape industry decisions. By adhering to the 16 best practices outlined in this guide, you'll elevate your data collection game and unlock actionable intelligence. 

Continuously refining your techniques and adapting to feedback ensures your surveys remain relevant and impactful. Embrace the power of surveys to drive informed decision-making, enhance experiences, and foster success in your endeavors. Dedication to excellence in survey conduct makes the possibilities limitless, and the insights gained are invaluable.

Karishma Bhatnagar

Karishma Bhatnagar

Karishma is a passionate blogger who comes with a deep understanding of SEO tactics. When she isn’t working, you’ll find her in the mountains, experiencing the fresh breeze & chirping sounds of birds.