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September 24, 2016

Rethinking Survey Experiences

Photo by Derek Hatfield / (CC BY 2.0)

Photo by Derek Hatfield / (CC BY 2.0)

This post was originally posted to the Digital Marketing Academy blog, part of the Arts Marketing Association of the U.K.

One of the benefits of being a part of the Digital Marketing Academy is the way of thinking the program encourages. Observation, experimentation, sharing results. It’s no surprise that it can begin to extend into other parts of one’s life.

Recently, I was on holiday, and I stayed in three hotels. A day after each stay, I received three similar emails asking me to take a survey about my experience. I did what most of us do; I ignored them. A few days later, I started getting reminder emails to take the surveys.

I remembered reading an article on The Guardian: “I’m fed up of being asked for feedback — when did companies get so needy?” by Anne Karpf. I recommend the read, though you may be feeling her frustration by the end of the article.

I’m a nice guy. So I picked one of the surveys and started to fill it out. It was at least helpful enough to show me a progress bar at the top of the screen.

A progress bar with 15 bars. With 3 or 4 questions per page.


A progress bar with 15 bars!

No wonder they have to hammer people over and over to fill out these surveys.  Nobody wants to answer 40+ questions that require thought on how well the sink drained or whether I would rate the sourness of the face of the manager as a 3 or a 4 (1 being lowest).

It would be hard for this experience to be more boring.

Arts marketers, when you receive these surveys, don’t think that just because they required a lot of time and budget that they’re good.

Don’t inflict these surveys on your patrons. We’re better than that.

From a Digital Marketing Academy perspective, how could you improve the survey experience? It’s not just about getting people to tolerate surveys. Imagine what it would be like if people wanted to take them? What if taking them was fun?

What if surveys taught patrons something? Or gave them a chance to earn points or status? Or had game elements? Or could be taken only if you solved a puzzle? Or simply offered a personal thank you (like an individualized email response from a real person on your staff)?

How might your survey create delight?

You work for the most creative sector on the planet. How can you use that creativity to improve on the process of “the survey”?

Thank you for reading. Please take this survey and let us know about your experience.