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

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

Excerpted from Entrepreneur magazine, July 2001