How to Sequence Questions to Obtain High-Quality Responses

It’s never been easier for product and marketing teams to de-risk everyday decisions by conducting user research on their own. Recent platform innovations enable you to create, execute, and analyze research automatically, letting you test before you invest and bringing the voice of your consumer directly to you.

Of course, being researchers, we think it never hurts to find out more. So we’re sharing our best practices with you in a series of product research guides. You’ve likely already perused “Product Research 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Product Research.” “Product Research 201: The Intermediate Guide to De-Risking Decisions” digs a little deeper. It provides step-by-step instructions on how to define your research objective, break it down into testable components, choose the right types of questions to support your objective, sequence your questions to elicit better feedback, and choose the right audience to get the right data.

Once you’ve decided what questions and which types of questions you want to incorporate into your questionnaire, it’s time to set them up to succeed — literally. When it comes to a survey, order matters.

“If you don't sequence your questions well, you run the risk of getting unusable data, or worse, it could be completely nonsensical,” cautions Kelsey Ward, Feedback Loop’s director of customer solutions.

A survey is like a conversation. If you were talking to a stranger, would you ask them what kind of mobile apps they use regularly if you didn’t already know they have a smartphone? Probably not. Think about how you would get the information you need if you were talking to a completely random person about whom you know nothing. How would you ask these questions? In what order would you arrange them to help them progress down a path to get the information you need? Your survey participant doesn’t always have the opportunity to say, “I don't understand,” so make sure you lead them down the right track to get reliable answers and data.

General-to-narrow-questionsA survey is also like a funnel: Start with general questions, then narrow down to more specific questions. This will help avoid “order bias,” which is the tendency to favor something based on its order in a list. For example, consider the following:


Put unaided before aided awareness: Be careful to not prime or bias participants with information you have given them.

First ask: What websites come to mind when you think about the news?
Then ask: Which of the following news websites have you heard of?

Put awareness before intent: If you flip the order, the answers to brand knowledge questions will closely mirror brand usage questions — and this will yield inaccurate data.

First ask: Which of the following brands have you heard of?
Then ask: Which of the following brands have you purchased in the past 30 days?

Follow this advice to create a well-sequenced survey that supports your learning objective and garners high-quality data quickly and easily. With a little assistance from the DISQO CX platform, and “Product Research 201: The Intermediate Guide to De-Risking Decisions,” you’ll hear the voice of your consumer whispering in your ear in no time.

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