As a community manager, you might be wondering if your community offers the value that the members are expecting. A great way to find this is an effective community survey. Based on the feedback you collect and the insights you generate, you can make data-backed decisions to improve your community.
The whole process also instills a sense of ownership in the members since their response shapes the direction of the community. As a community owner, the business gains the trust of the members by collecting and acting on the feedback.
The beautiful thing about this whole process is that it applies to the entire community life cycle. In a highly engaged community, the members are always willing to voice their suggestions and concerns. However, it can be difficult to consistently gather high-quality feedback.
In this post, we’ll explore the best practices for conducting community surveys to generate actionable insights and take key decisions related to your online community.
Best practices for designing community survey
Now that we understand how feedback collection can be helpful for both the members as well as the community, builder let’s now explore some of the best practices for creating a community survey.
Don’t be biased
It is quite easy to get swayed with a personal bias for the community projects and frame questions in a way that would directly impact the members’ answers.
Here are some of the common ways to handle bias:
- Avoid leading questions
- Remove the answer options that are leading
- Ask questions created with neutral wordings
- Segment your survey based on different topics
- Add random order to your questions and answers
Frame the questions for valuable insights
Let’s consider an example to understand this better. For instance, you are trying to understand the popular sections in your community. In this case, instead of asking “yes/no” questions on whether the members consider certain sections of the community valuable, you would ideally present the key sections of your community as options and ask the members to select.
Here is an example:
Which of the following sections of the community do you consider most valuable?
- Product news and updates
- Local group
- Industry group
- Beta testing
- Ideation channel
Note: You can augment this data with the data collected via Digital Analytics tools such as Google Analytics.
Design your survey with a flowchart logic
This is about adding different logical paths for your survey respondents. For example, if your survey has a different set of questions based on their job domain (marketing, customer success, engineering, etc.), you must not show questions from other industries. Similarly, if you are surveying your customer community, add logic based on the pricing tier.
The objective here is to minimize the number of actions that members need to take and the time they need to spend when answering the questions. Coming to tools, you can set up the survey using tools such as Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, Survicate, SurveySparrow, etc.
Test the survey
Testing is one of the most crucial components of any external-facing communication. No doubt, you must test the survey as well before rolling out to the members. The first step is to send the survey to your internal team and collect feedback — ensure it is technically flawless and matches your business objective.
The next step is about running a pilot test with a small segment of your community members. For example, if you have 10,000 members, run your pilot survey with 100 members. This allows you to catch any uncaught issues from the members’ point of view and ensure that you are getting the intended insights.
Distribute the community survey
After creating the survey and testing thoroughly, it is time for distribution.
- Post the survey in your community and pin the post to the top so it grabs maximum visibility.
- Share the survey link via emails and in-app messages. You can also segment your members and send personalized messages.
- Depending on the use case, you might want to also consider conducting surveys via video or teleconferencing
Incentivize for more response
Although in general members are willing to share their feedback and help improve the community, you might consider giving a nudge to boost the response rate. Remember that the more data your collect, the better will be the result in terms of statistical significance.
One of the popular ways to motivate people to fill surveys has been incentivization. For instance, you can gift shopping vouchers when they fill your survey or run a giveaway campaign in which you would randomly select 2-3 members as winners.
Close the feedback loop
When you are collecting feedback, you must take action as well. This starts with thoroughly evaluating the result and understanding the significant insights. Then you need to add weightage to the results in terms of the maximum value that you can get by acting on them. Using this exercise you can zero in on the high impact action items.
A good rule of thumb is to select the ideas, feedback, and suggestions that impact the maximum number of members. Your project must comprise of the tasks that match business and community objectives to the maximum extent.
If you are still getting stuck with mixed results in terms of the value for the community, it is good to seek the help of the members with a follow-up survey.
Community survey template
Here are some sample questions that you can select for the survey. I have divided the questions into four groups:
Summative or Likert scale:
- As a member, I believe this community is valuable for me.
- The members of this community are helpful.
- I believe the members of the community understand me.
- I have cultivated authentic connections with the members.
- My values and passions match with the members of the community.
- On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend this community to a friend or colleague?
- What’s the most important reason for this score? [Consider adding conditional logic based on the score]
Community/Member fit (Similar to Product/Market fit)
- If the community is shut down, how would you feel
– Very disappointed – Somewhat disappointed – Not disappointed (it isn’t that useful)
- How would you feel joining an alternative community if this community were no longer available?
– Very unhappy – Somewhat unhappy – Neither happy nor unhappy – Happy – Very happy
- What are the primary benefits you have received from the community?
[The options would vary based on the community objective]
- Do you have any other suggestions for us to deliver a better community experience?
- If you could change one thing about the community, what would it be?
We covered several best practices for an effective community survey. Now, it’s time for you to grab the above-mentioned template and get started.