Conducting your own online survey can be a cheap and efficient way to gain insight into the customers' minds-and possibly their pocketbooks. Keep the following tips in mind to ensure a successful online survey:

  1. Do the survey yourself.
  2. Determine the survey's goal.
  3. Keep the survey short.
  4. Select your survey channels.
  5. Test the survey.
  6. For quantitative answers, don't overlap the survey categories.
  7. Always provide survey-takers the option of answering "I don't know."
  8. Keep it simple.
  9. Ask for a personal data list.
  10. Offer an incentive related to respondents' interests.
  11. When selecting incentives, keep them unrelated to the survey questions.
  12. Keep your target audience in mind.
  13. Remember simplicity.
  14. Do market research for the right reasons.

Excerpted from Entrepreneur magazine, July 2001