After all of the hard work you’ve put into an event, you’ll want to make sure to capture both quantitative and qualitative data, helping you determine your ROI, with a post-event survey.

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A survey allows you to gather the right data, i.e., data that grows your knowledge and expertise; to evaluate performance based on established event metrics; to look for opportunities for improvement and growth; and to develop future event strategies.

Success with a post-event survey involves several elements. First, define your objectives. Second, personalize invitations for your audience. Finally, don’t overlook the importance of survey follow-up. I’ll cover each area in more detail below.

Objectives

Surveys, like any other content you publish or event you hold, should have objectives attached to them. Ask yourself questions like these when thinking about how to get the event data you want:

  1. What data is absolutely critical to our event measurement efforts?
  2. What data would we like to know? (That is, information that would be nice to know but isn’t mission-critical.)

These two questions act as a framework for the survey and keep you on track when it comes time to decide which questions to include. The goal is never to ask as many questions as you can but to ask the ones that need to be asked.

Invitations

Once you’ve determined who your target audience is, it’s time to invite them to take the survey. But there’s a huge caveat here: how you ask people to take your post-event survey can impact response and completion rates.

Invitations should be personalized. This doesn’t have to be a monumental task, many CRM tools can integrate with survey software and auto-populate invitations with contact data.

A few final pointers on the subject of survey invitations:

  • Consider using multiple touch points. You can use a number of technologies to reach your audience, including iBeacons, SMS text messages, and survey software like SurveyGizmo that adapts to people’s devices. Using channels other than email can yield the statistically significant results you need.
  • Send your invitations 24-48 hours after the event to get people’s best and first impressions. Use a deadline, too, to create a sense of urgency.
  • If you incentivize the survey, be smart about it. Incentives should align with your brand, its goals, and the people being polled. And, be creative. Incentives can be a standard prize, but also consider donations to charity and exclusive, limited-time access to some of your gated content.
  • Use a unique URL in the post-event survey invitation. This will remove barriers like having the recipient enter an email address or name and ensure more people will fill out the survey.

Survey

Next comes the survey. When people land on it, (see the unique URL advice above) they should see a personalized greeting with some brief details about what the survey’s for and how long it will take.

In terms of survey design, think mobile-first. Progress bars, for instance, work great online, but they’re difficult to read on mobile devices. The same goes for multi-point scales and one question per page format. These tactics work well on desktops, laptops and even some tablets, but they only frustrate users on smaller screens. 

Don’t panic at this point; many survey solutions will adjust according to people’s screens, and you can typically control what features, such as the progress bar, show up on specific types of devices. 

The rest of your survey design comes down to asking the right kinds of questions.

  • Avoid open-ended questions, especially on mobile. If you are going to ask an open-ended question, keep it toward the end of the survey or make it a small request that people can easily fill out via their fingers. 
  • Ask for a single, definitive answer. For example, don’t ask if people like ice cream and hot dogs; make it an either/or scenario.
  • Keep important questions in the beginning of the survey. Even if people abandon it, you’ll still be able to glean crucial event data.

Finally, test the survey before sending it out to potential respondents. Have a coworker proof for typos and clarity. You should also test the survey across devices and operating systems to guarantee that the survey works as expected.

Follow up

Finally, you should follow up after people take a survey. The first step is simple: create a “thank you” page that automatically appears once people submit their data. If you have incentivized the survey, this is the time and place to share how people can get their rewards.

Next, share the survey results with respondents. Do take some time with this; you want to present the data in a visually pleasing format such as a report or infographic. Remember, while the primary goal is to delight attendees and thank them for their responses, the second is to create social buzz around your organization or brand and its next event. 

Last, but certainly not least, analyze your data. Refer back to your objectives and make a report of your findings. Did you increase brand loyalty or did people want to become a customer because an event, did they tell a friend about your organization?

There you have it, a way to craft the perfect post-event survey that increases not only response and completion rates but also future event attendance. And, if you’re wondering how to capture ROI across your event’s entire lifecycle, we have a guide for that. It covers what data to gather before, during, and after an event and how to go about doing it. Download your guide today!