Post-event survey’s are a common practice for good reason. They offer an invaluable peek into the needs, wants, expectations, and experience of your event attendees. Deploy them strategically, and they can provide powerful insights into what went well for your event, what went wrong, and what you can do to make your next one better.

There is an art and science to getting the most out of a post-event survey. Ask too many questions, and you’ll overload your recipients. Ask too few, and you won’t capture the information you need to make your next event better. Collect feedback in the wrong way, and you might miss out on valuable opportunities to drive engagement. Collect it in the right way, and you might stumble onto insights that could change the game forever for your events.

So how, exactly, do you approach your post-event survey strategically?

Know What You Want To Know!

It’s easy to add question after question to an event survey. Long answer, short answer, multiple-choice, sliding scales, true-or-false – with all these tools to capture information, it’s easy to lose yourself in the options. If you’ve sat down to create your survey before evaluating exactly what you’d like to know from your attendees, you’re setting your survey up for overload.

Before you start adding questions to your survey, it’s useful to ask yourself exactly what you’d like to know. Chances are you can rattle off more than a few uncertainties you’d like to reduce about your event attendants experience, such as:

  • Did you enjoy yourself?
  • Was the event easy to get to?
  • How was check-in?
  • Will you be back next year?
  • Did you enjoy the venue?

Build a long enough list, and you’ll find that many of your questions intersect or share common themes. Organize these questions around those shared themes, and you’ll naturally find opportunities to optimize your questioning. Instead of asking three separate questions around, for example, event check-in, brainstorming before creating your survey will allow you to capture the same information with one. Ask fewer questions, and you’ll reduce the cognitive load experienced by survey recipients, improving survey completions!

Optimize for Cognitive Load

True/False questions are easier to complete than a long-answer text. A survey with only a few questions is easier to complete than one with many.

Long answer questions and long surveys are likely to capture more information, but they also increase cognitive load. Make your survey recipients think your survey is time-consuming or difficult to complete, and they’ll either skip it entirely or rush through questions hastily in order to complete it. In either case, despite setting yourself up to receive lots of information, cognitive load results in you receiving little or none at all.

Optimize your survey to minimize cognitive load is all about appearance. Make sure your survey appears easy to complete by seeking the simplest field.

The long answer is great, but if a multiple-choice field can do the job, it should. After you’ve created an initial draft of your survey, it’s worthwhile to go through each of your questions and see you can reduce them to a simpler form-field.

Sometimes a simple change to the way you ask a question can allow you to ask it in a way that’s easier to answer for your recipient. Reducing your fields to simpler ones makes your survey easier to complete and can help you capture quantitative responses. If you’re concerned about missing out on valuable qualitative feedback, don’t hesitate to offer optional long-answer fields!

Time Your Survey Sending

To maximize engagement with your post-event survey, send it when the time is right. It’s always a good idea to send as soon as possible, as your event experience is fresh in the minds of your attendants, but there are other considerations worth thinking about before you hit the ‘send’ button!

Work Schedules

If you threw a professional event over the weekend, it’s a good idea to wait your survey recipients are back at work to send it. Weekend events are fantastic experiences, but can be exhausting. Give your recipients the opportunity to recuperate and process the things they learned before asking them to give their feedback on your event.

Didn’t throw your event over a weekend? Make sure you don’t send your survey out on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday! This is personal time for your audience. At best, your survey is unlikely to be engaged with. At worst, your survey will be perceived as an unprofessional intrusion into your audience’s personal space.

Sales Cycles

If your event is an opportunity for vendors and potential customers to connect, it’s worth considering the likely sales cycles of their purchases.

Boat’s, industrial equipment, etc. take a long time to buy. Customers meet potential sellers at sales event’s like these, but don’t actually complete their purchase for many months. Despite the fact that your event is over, your attendants’ experience of it isn’t! Send your survey after you expect enough time has passed for these connections to bear their fruit for accurate feedback!