It goes without saying that survey distribution is one of the most critical phases when it comes to surveys. No matter how effective your survey questions are, your survey plan will not be successful unless the questions reach your intended target audience. This is where effective survey distribution comes into play.
Survey distribution refers to the methods and strategies that one is using to distribute surveys to their intended audience.
This can have an over-arching effect on various aspects of the success of the survey including but not limited to response rates and overall data quality. This is why ensuring that you get your survey distribution method right is critical not only to the success and accuracy of your survey research but also to the way that these insights will shape your digital product further down the line.
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5 Survey Distribution Methods
When it comes to survey distribution methods, we can help you cut through the noise by focusing on the 5 key ones that you’ll ever need to boost the efficiency and effectiveness of your survey strategy:
It is important to remember that the choice of the survey distribution method should always align with the specific needs and goals of your survey research, also taking into consideration the available resources or any time and budget constraints.
Each of the 5 methods below has a host of different advantages but also downsides that need to be taken into account when selecting your appropriate survey methodology.
1. User Panel
Building, managing, and using a user panel for your survey distribution can undeniably be one of the best methods to distribute your survey. This particular method offers a host of advantages with the most important of them being your survey reaching a curated pool of already engaged users. This is a strategic advantage that can skyrocket the chances of greater engagement and enhanced response rates.
On top of that, with the user panel consisting of pre-screened applicants, this methodology allows for feedback collection from a specific group of users that share particular characteristics and belong to the same demographics.
This leads to high-quality responses while ensuring data accuracy. Nonetheless, utilizing your user panel can also have several disadvantages. Using the same users over and over again can create bias in your survey results and can work against diversity in responses.
Adding on to that creating and maintaining your own user panel can be very time-consuming, especially in small UX teams or UX teams of one. Consider the option of outsourcing this to external providers that specialize in user panels and help with recruiting.
UXtweak is one of such tools! It gives you access to a 155M+ user panel with advanced filtering system, guaranteed quality participants and the price as low as 9$/respondent.
See how easy it is to recruit with UXtweak in this video 👇
Survey distribution via email is the second key methodology on our list. This methodology has a dual function and it covers both the tool used for the survey distribution and the intended audience. Emailing is generally considered to be one of the most cost-effective and industry-approved approaches when it comes to survey distribution.
What’s more, with email being one of the most widely used communication channels, it is an invaluable tool in every UX professional’s arsenal as it can lead to enhanced response rates. Another great advantage of email surveys is that you have the chance to influence the response rate of the survey by using UX email best practices, like personalization elements or crafting a thought-provoking subject line!
This tool coupled with leveraging your mailing list or user database can work wonders in getting valuable user insights. You can consider using UXtweak’s own database tool to create and manage your mailing lists. Something to be aware of here is that the input will define the output so consider the quality of your mailing list before choosing this particular methodology to distribute your survey.
3. Website / In-App Widget
Your website or app can be turned into a great tool when it comes to survey distribution and gathering customer feedback. This approach gets an extra bonus as it helps you reach users who are already engaging with your digital product and it presents an unmissable opportunity to get insights that you can leverage to further enhance your product.
How? You can simply add a website or an in-app survey widget on the user interface of your website or app. This method also encompasses a host of advantages, with the greatest of them being that the widget gives to the chance to capture valuable feedback in real time while users are interacting with your digital product.
This approach is also characterized by its non-intrusive style which can work wonders when it comes to user engagement and survey response rate. One thing to keep in mind when using this method is that the responses will be limited to your website or app users. As a result, this approach will automatically exclude any other user groups.
For this reason, we would advise you to use this wisely and always in combination with other survey distribution channels!
4. Social Media
Another great approach when it comes to survey distribution is leveraging your social media platforms. This can be an amazing method to reach not only your own audience but potentially expand to new territories via shares and likes, amplifying in this way the effect of your survey.
Reaching new audiences can be particularly handy when it comes to exploratory research so this is a noteworthy method to do so. Additionally, this approach can help you tap into these new groups and generate not only insights but also sales!
On the other hand, one of the major downsides of distributing your surveys through social media channels is that it does not allow for quality control which might dilute the accuracy of your data. You might also potentially find that insights coming from this channel might lack depth or are somewhat irrelevant.
Last but not least, SMS can be another efficient avenue for survey distribution. Mobile communication is arguably on the rise so SMS is a great way to turn this to your advantage.
SMS is a direct way of short messaging which is more suited to short surveys, like for instance running an NPS survey, rather than lengthy surveys, so this is something to consider when deciding on your survey plan. Bear in mind that survey distribution via SMS comes with its limitations due to the character count constraint as well as the spam connotations that it bears.
Why is choosing the right survey distribution method important?
As you might have already gathered there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to survey distribution methods. Choosing the appropriate survey distribution method is quintessential as this will have an impact on your data quality, response rate, and overall success of your survey.
Here is how:
- Data Quality
As discussed earlier different survey distribution methods will inevitably attract different groups of participants so make sure you pinpoint the audience that you want to target before selecting the most suitable approach. This will increase the chances of getting accurate data that are relevant to the goals of your research.
- Response Rates
Choosing the right survey distribution method can have a great impact on your response rate. The response rate is nothing more than the percentage of people that fill in the survey. Selecting the appropriate method or combination of methods taking into consideration the habits and preferences of your users can make or break your user engagement and consequently your response rates!
Choosing the appropriate channel can also have a knockoff effect on representation. This is why the right approach should be selected based on your target audience and research goals. Knowing the limitations of each of the methods when it comes to the audience that it reaches is crucial to make sure your findings represent the intended population.
- Cost Efficiency
Finally, survey distribution can come with its costs. Hence it is of utmost importance to choose a method that is in alignment with your research survey budget and to make sure you are optimizing its allocation at all times.
How do you distribute a survey for free?
Speaking of cost-efficiency it is worth mentioning that there are some tips and survey distribution best practices that you can leverage to reach your audience cost-free.
Utilize Online Platforms
Make sure you take advantage of the free survey platforms out there, like for instance Google Forms or SurveyMonkey. These free-to-use tools can help you design, and distribute surveys with some basic analytics, all cost-free.
Offering an incentive in the form of a voucher or even a small discount on your products in exchange for survey completion is another great way to help you boost engagement and response rates without incurring any further costs.
Collaborate with Partners
Collaborating with partners and asking them to share your survey can be another useful tip when considering cost-free survey distribution avenues. This can also help you grow your audience in the long run!
Online Communities or Forums
Another way to amplify the reach of your survey without any extra cost is to share it on online communities or forums that are relevant to the purpose of your digital product.
Website or Blog
Finally, you can leverage content marketing to grow your mailing list or user panel for free! You can do so by writing relevant articles and then adding the survey as the main call to action for your readers.
In a nutshell
Survey distribution can make or break the overall success of your user research.
There are a host of survey distribution methods that can be used. However, user panels, email, in-app or website widgets, social media, and SMS, feature in our top 5. It’s worth noting that each of those approaches, while presenting a host of advantages also comes with its limitations.
Therefore, the careful selection of methodology based not only on the specific research needs and goals of the survey research but also on the audience’s preferences is of paramount importance to ensure data quality, fair representation, and enhanced response rates. Leveraging online communities, content marketing, and using free online survey platforms or offering incentives are all great tips for cost-free survey distribution.
Our professional advice is to use UXtweak to design, distribute, and manage your surveys effortlessly.