When making plans to create and distribute your survey, here are five things to keep in mind.
Let's face it, if a respondent can't figure out in a few sentences what the objective of your survey is and how they can contribute, then they are less likely to respond. Being forthright in your cover letter/email and initial instructions as to why you are conducting the survey and how the results will be used is important.
It's subtle, but an important point that can easily be overlooked is how you appeal to the respondent to participate in your survey. The cover letter or email that accompanies with your survey questionnaire can have a big influence in response rates. Specifically, research indicates that it is a good idea to include a sentence or two specifically asking for the respondent's participation citing the importance of their helpful input in achieving the objectives of the survey (i.e., improving a product, process, work environment, etc.). Doing so appeals to the respondent's sense of being a helpful contributor when called upon to participate.
For surveys that are not compulsory for the respondent to complete, it's common sense that providing incentives generally results in better response rates. As a rule of thumb, research indicates that the larger the incentive, the larger the response rate. Consider offering a raffle drawing prize or perhaps an incentive for the first 50 respondents. Managing your incentives in this way also means that you don't have to spend a fortune on incentive rewards. Also, it is important for the respondent to actually believe that your survey is credible and that the incentive reward will actually be given. Providing instructions to the respondent that include an email address with your organization's email domain name (i.e., yourcompany.com) or some other means of contact (a phone number or mailing address) can often provide the necessary impression that your survey is legitimate.
Surveys that take less time to complete typically result in better response rates. Review the objectives of your survey and keep only those questions that are essential in achieving your objective. Including a statement in your cover letter or initial instructions that the survey should take, for example, no more than five minutes to complete can positively influence a respondent to participate. You will want to, of course, have several people take the survey before widely distributing it to make sure that your claim of five minutes is accurate.
It's a good idea to distribute your survey to a small set of people (preferably accessible colleagues or constituents) who actually complete the survey before you send it out to a broader audience. You can then follow-up with these respondents via a phone call or email asking them if their experience with the survey was difficult or confusing in any area. This provides an opportunity to collect feedback from actual respondents and make fine tuning adjustments to any confusing or hard parts in the survey. Sometimes rewriting a question or adding specific choices makes all the difference. This vetting process produces dividends because you can have a better confidence in your survey when you send it out to a broader set of respondents.
All of your SurveyGold data (including your surveys, questions, respondents, responses) is stored in a single database file that is typically located on your computer's internal hard drive. The reality of today's computing environment is that hard drives fail, computers get replaced, and sometimes files even get unintentionally erased.
To prevent you from having a bad day when the inevitable occurs, your SurveyGold application periodically invites you to create a backup of your data as you exit SurveyGold. Every time you accept the invitation to backup your data, SurveyGold creates a unique copy of your database file as it exists at the time the backup is made.
Where to Backup Your Data
When you accept SurveyGold's invitation to create a backup, the only thing that you need to tell SurveyGold is the name of the folder where you want SurveyGold to make the backup copy of its database file.
It is a very good idea to make the backup copy on to a different media (i.e., USB flash drive, network folder, external hard drive) rather than backing up your data to a folder on the same drive where the SurveyGold database exists. The motivation for doing this is to avoid losing both your SurveyGold database file and your backup database file in the event that your computer's hard drive fails.
How the Backup File Is Created
When SurveyGold creates a backup of your data, it does so by copying its own database file (a file named survey.db) to a folder location that you specify. It names the backup file as follows:
Note that <clientID> is replaced with the client ID for your SurveyGold application and <datetime> is replaced with the backup date and time (right down to the hour, minute and second). The client ID is a number that uniquely identifies your SurveyGold application. For example, if you made a backup of your database file on December 5, 2012 at 10:51AM, and your client ID was 123123123123123123123123 the resulting backup file would be named:
How to Restore Your Data from a Backup File
In a typical scenario, you restore your database because you moving your SurveyGold application from an old computer to a new computer or because you inadvertently deleted some data that you want to recover.
Note: In this case, you would download and install the SurveyGold application directly from our website. You do not need to register the SurveyGold application because the database you are about to restore already contains this data.
Close SurveyGold if it is running.
Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the network folder where your survey_backup_<clientID>_<datetime>.db file is located and copy it to the folder where SurveyGold looks for its database files:
The SurveyGold Database folder is located at:
Note: If you cannot see the specified folder via Windows Explorer, it is most likely hidden. Here is how to resolve this:
1. Open Windows Explorer holding down the Windows key and pressing E.
2. Select the Tools menu.
3. Select the Folder Options menu item.
4. Select the View folder.
5. Check the option entitled "Show hidden files and folders".
6. Select OK.
You should now be able to see this folder. If it does not appear, please consult with your IT staff as to where this folder is located in your particular environment.
Using Windows Explorer, navigate to the SurveyGold Database folder (as specified in Step 2). Locate a file named survey.db and rename it to surveyold.db. Rename the survey_backup_<clientID>_<datetime>.db file to survey.db
Launch SurveyGold and you will see your data as of the last time you backed up your data.
If You Do Not Have a Backup of Your Data
If you do not have a backup database file it is a worst-case scenario because there is no other way to recover your data. We do not keep a backup of your database file nor do we keep a backup of your web survey responses on our website. You have the only copy of your data. So, play it safe and always maintain a backup copy of your SurveyGold data.
You have distributed a paper-based form using SurveyGold and you have collected a large set of completed paper questionnaires. At first it might appear that the only way to get those responses entered into SurveyGold is to have one person sit down and manually enter the responses one-at-a-time into the SurveyGold application. While this is one way to do it, there is an easier way if you get other people involved.
The following tip describes an inexpensive and efficient way to allow others to assist you in doing data entry for large numbers of paper-based survey responses. The techniques described herein also work well for multiple phone interviewers conducting repeated over-the-phone surveys.
Step 1 - Create the Online Survey Form
Step 2 - Distribute the Online Survey Form
Distribute your online survey form to any number of people performing data entry for you. There are two options for distributing your online survey:
Step 3 - Enter Responses
Provide each data entry person with a portion of the stack of paper survey forms to enter. For each paper form, have them access the online survey form and perform the following actions:
Step 4 - Collect Responses
When you are ready to view the results in your SurveyGold application, simply perform the Update Activity action in the Home tab. This automatically downloads the submitted online survey responses from SurveyGold Online Services and imports them into your SurveyGold application whereby you can view and analyze the results.
As the author of SurveyGold, it's my pleasure to serve and collaborate with the diverse community of SurveyGold survey authors, surveyors and respondents.