How to Write Survey Questions for Better CopyAs soon as a new client wants to talk about a copywriting project, one of the first questions I ask is, “Have you done any qualitative research recently?”

I’m talking about things like customer interviews, pop up surveys and email surveys. If they have done them well, the kind of information you can get from them is pure gold.

And, it makes my job a whole lot easier… which means they don’t need me to do as much work.

If you’re planning to write copy for your site or landing page – wait… don’t dive in until you’ve done a little research

Whenever you create copy online for your business, it needs to get the ultimate job done of selling for you. Otherwise, it’s simply taking up space.

To effectively sell to your customers, your words have to do a few things:

  • Key into how they speak
  • Reflect their state of awareness of your solution
  • Address their concerns or alleviate hesitations
  • Convince them to complete whatever goal you’ve set out for them

How you do all of that begins with having a solid understanding of who these people are – what makes them tick.

Which leads us to… first things first, asking the right questions

Earlier, when I said “pure gold,” you’ll find it when you ask the right questions. I’m talking about little nuggets of insight straight from your customers’ mouths. These are pieces of information that inform your copy so you can do all those things like address their concerns and provide the ideal amount of detail to your argument depending on how aware they are or not of your solution.

Okay, that’s all well and good… but how do you go about asking the questions that will get the kind of answers you need?

The most important place to start is with the goal you’re attempting to achieve. Without clearly defining what you want to learn, you may end up spinning your wheels.

Know what you want your survey to accomplish

Seems basic but it’s worth spelling out.

Let’s say you’re developing a new sales page for an existing product. You know where you’ll be driving traffic to get to the page but you could use some insights into how your customers perceive its value.

In this case, you’d focus your questions around how and why your customers seek out a solution such as yours. Knowing the words they use to describe the “how” and “why” can help you better reflect back to them their reasons for seeking you out in the first place.

From there, you’ll want to think about the following when putting together your survey questions to achieve the best results:

#1: Keep the number of questions to a minimum

Remember that most people have a limited amount of time and patience – along with goodwill. So, keep a survey such as this in the range of 6 to 10 questions.

You can glean quite a bit of valuable information to help your copy from even a small number of questions. Keep the survey short, to the point, and…

#2: Relvancy is key

Make sure your questions are relevant to the task at hand. This brings us back to knowing what your goal is. Refrain from asking questions just because you’d like to know the answers. If they’re not going to serve your direct purposes – leave them out.

#3: Focus on open ended questions

When you’re looking for copy to swipe from your customers’ mouths, you need access to their actual words. This means asking questions that require more than a yes or no. You want them to express themselves as openly as possible.

Allowing them to merely tick a box will only give you so much, so keep them to only one or two.

#4: Bias will get you nowhere

Repeat after me, “No leading questions.” Don’t do things like include superlatives to your questions. Asking what your respondent thinks about your bright and cheery website design plants an idea in their heads about the site.

Stay as neutral as possible in your wording to generate the most reliable answers.

#5: Don’t make people think

Just like good design and usability on a site, good questions should be easy to understand. If they’re vague or overly complicated, chances are you won’t get the answers you’re looking for.

For instance, I made the mistake of asking on a recent survey the question, “What types of online copywriting frustrate you the most?”

This question confused a couple of people. Without including the words “to write” at the end of the sentence, they seemed to think I was asking them about what types of pages are the most frustrating to read.

Needless to say, the answers did little to help in my research process.

Examples of questions to optimize a landing page

Best practices are helpful but examples are even better. So let’s get down to brass tacks.

Here are some examples of questions I’ve used in the past. The answers have been instrumental in helping me craft more effective copy on various pages – including long form sales pages:

  1. “When did you realize you needed a product/service like ours?” – This is a question that will help you find out what the trigger events are going on in a person’s life that motivate him to seek out your solution
  2. “What problem does our product/service lessen or fix for you?”- Here you’ll be able to find out what your customers consider the problem to be. You may find there are problems you’re solving that you didn’t know about.
  3. “Did you consider any alternatives to buying/working from/with us?” – It’s always a good idea to know who your customers see as your competition. This will help you build a case as to why they should buy from you.
  4. “What concerns or hesitations did you have before you decided to buy/work with us?” – Being able to address any sources of friction in your copy is incredibly important. You can reflect your customers’ concerns back to them in terms of how you or your business will alleviate them.
  5. “What 3 words best describe our product/service?” – This can be a great question to add in. If you’re finding a few words that continually repeat themselves, you’ll know that they should be included in your copy.

This is just a start. Depending on your circumstance, tweak them as needed. Then, test them out.

If you need a little more help with the whole survey thing…

Not sure what to do with your questions once you get them together? Read my post on sending your survey out via email and the platforms to use.

The Dreaded Email Survey: Get Your Customers To Respond

What kind of results have you had with surveying your customers? Let me know in the comments.