How to Analyze Survey Data: Learn What to Do With Survey Responses?

Gathering responses was only the first step—now it’s time to learn how to analyze survey data and interpret it! Not only does SurveyPlanet make creating surveys easy, it also exports and interprets the data for you.
Congratulations on collecting responses from your survey and crossing that bridge. Now it’s time for the next chapter. Continue reading to learn what to do with your survey responses by using the tips we’ve gathered below.

Before Wondering How to Interpret Survey Results, Clean Your Data

Before you start a deep analytical dive into your survey data, it’s important to clean it, which will eliminate any outliers that could throw off your final results. It also helps ensure that all your data is relevant and from a person and not a bot.

When combing through your answers, be on the lookout for the following warning signs:

  • Fast Completion Times: You should know the average time it takes to fill out your survey. If there are any completion times well under that, flag these responses as suspicious.

  • Odd Answer Patterns: If answers are following a pattern that doesn’t reflect accurate or thoughtful answers and seems too consistent, it’s probably safe to assume this

Pay special attention to obscure survey responses that can throw your survey data analysis into disarray

Inconsistent Answers: On longer surveys, it’s common to ask respondents to choose a certain answer to ensure they actually read the questions. One might ask a respondent to “Choose answer C if you are paying attention.” This is an easy way to eliminate invalid responses and ensure more conclusive data. Read our 11 Tips for Creating an Engaging Online Survey to make sure your respondents do not skip questions because they find them unattractive or dull.

Choosing All Checkboxes: Another red flag is participants who choose all the checkboxes on answers. This shows that they aren’t reading the questions because they’re too busy speeding through the survey.

Nonsense Answers or Skipping Open-Ended Questions: If your survey asks short-answer questions and a respondent either doesn’t respond or gives nonsense answers, it’s safe to throw these out of the data pool.

Once you clean your survey responses of outliers, using the rest to determine conclusions will be far more accurate. Keep in mind that sometimes obscure survey responses may be a consequence of a bad survey question and, in the future, put extra effort into keeping them out of your survey.

Export Survey Data and Filter Your Results

It would be helpful, before even starting to think about how to interpret survey results, to use the Export Survey Data tool. SurveyPlanet gives you the option of exporting survey data into several different formats. This makes working with the data easier. You can choose to export survey responses into PDF, CSV, Excel, JSON, or Word formats.
If you want to import your data into analysis software or simply view it as an easy-to-read PDF, SurveyPlanet makes that easy with our export options that give you files that are easy shared with colleagues and software or analysis experts. It’s always a good idea to save each file type to somewhere safe, just in case you ever need it for reference.

Filter your survey responses with cross-tabulation

One of the most frequent goals when doing a survey is analyzing different groups of people and comparing their answers. This is a situation where cross-tabulation can help provide insights into the relationship between different variables.

With Microsoft Excel’s simple pivot table feature, you can easily group multiple survey responses from different subgroups and analyze the data accordingly.

The possibility for cross-tabulation is just one of the many benefits of surveying your customers. Given that examinees will likely come from different demographic groups and statuses, this will give you more precise insight into your business niche and potential marketing strategies.

Statistical significance of data

It is essential not to underestimate the importance of quality data, meaning trustworthy survey responses that imply relevant statistical significance on which you can rely. You can make future improvements and business decisions with high certainty based on the ongoing development of quality data.

How to Analyze Survey Results

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Now it’s time to analyze your survey results. Before starting, recall your survey learning objectives. Why did you send out a survey? What were you hoping to learn from it? Answering these questions will not only help inform your analysis but also help you interpret the survey’s results.

First, determine how you will derive data and conclusions from the written answers in your survey. An initial way to analyze the responses is by tracking keyword frequencies, meaning how respondents use particular terms.

For example, if you want to gain insight about a new product, search for its name in the survey results to see comments about it and how people responded when asked about it. You can also rate each response as negative or positive and create a visualization of the most commonly used words. Complete this process for every learning objective you want to be answered.

Advice on how to analyze a survey may differ depending on the question type

For multiple-choice questions, the analysis is a bit different with no interpretation of the data involved. Your results will show how many people answered each question in a specific way. If you asked demographic questions, these will yield insights into that topic.

Such information will inform you about who took your survey and the most common responses to questions. It’s also essential to look for trends in your survey data, which can give you an idea of what the majority of your respondents are thinking and feeling. Another way to analyze data is by segmenting responses based on certain variables. If survey respondents were from different segments, such as existing customers, new customers, or inactive customers, it’s important to analyze their data separately to understand the dynamics of each group.

We have already written about the different types of surveys in this article and examined the difference between qualitative and quantitative data in surveys, including its importance to market research, customer service, and customer experience.

Create Reports and Summaries of the Analyzed Data

Once you have analyzed your data, it’s time to compile all of it into a report. The first step is writing a summary, which is a quick recap of all the information you used to create the survey and select respondents. It should outline your main goal, why you chose it, who your respondents were, and the basic highlights from your data.

After you write your summary, it’s time to write mini-reports. These outline each learning objective you wanted to gain insight about. For each, create a mini-report that contains all the data and insight you developed about that learning objective. At the end of your mini-report, include recommendations based on the findings.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Seemingly Excess Data

Create a section for unique and unexpected finds. This is where you will include all the data collected that was not part of the original plan. Include any answers your respondents left that you think might be helpful for future decision-making.

You might find insightful information you weren’t originally investigating during the analysis phase that can be explored later. Include it in this section of your report.

Lastly, write your conclusion, which is where you recap the survey’s findings, suggestions for future actions, and any supporting evidence that should be included with the analysis. If your report is going to the CEO, it’s important to include enough information for stakeholders to support your suggested actions.

Implement Change

Using survey responses to implement change is a great experience. Now that you know the pain points of your respondents, you can start figuring out what to do to give them a better experience. The feedback you receive in a survey is priceless; you now know how to offer a better customer experience and improve customer satisfaction.

Don’t go to the trouble of sending out a survey and not using the insights gained to your advantage. Use them to make improvements and learn more about your audience

Share Your Survey Responses

If you’re not afraid to share your survey responses, post a white paper on your website with all the findings from your survey. The white paper can include future actions you are taking to improve. Publishing your results and how you will make changes based upon them is a great way to build your reputation and hold yourself accountable to those actions.

If you’re not afraid to share your survey responses, post a white paper on your website with all your findings. It can include future actions you plan to take to improve operations. Publishing your results—and how you will make changes based upon them—is a great way to build your reputation and hold yourself accountable.

Ready to start using survey responses to your advantage? Sign up for SurveyPlanet’s free account to gain access to unlimited surveys, responses, questions, hundreds of pre-written survey questions, beautiful pre-made survey templates, and so much more. Get a SurveyPlanet Pro account for even more features to enhance your surveying experience
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