Designing Marketing Research Questionnaires

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  • 0:03 Marketing Research…
  • 0:53 Designing Questions
  • 2:35 Which Type of Question to Use?
  • 3:04 Improving Response Rate
  • 4:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

As you design your marketing research questionnaire, you'll find just how important the right questions are in finding out the information you want. Learn how to write effective questions in this lesson.

Marketing Research Questionnaires

Have you ever been presented with a short survey after having a conversation with a customer service department of some company? This is a type of marketing research questionnaire, a tool used by marketers to help them find out information about a certain group of people via the use of questions and prompts. For example, after the customer service conversation, you might have been asked:

  • Did the customer service agent resolve your issue today?

If this question is given over the phone, you can then use your phone to punch in a number on a scale (say, 1 to 4) to give your answer.

This question was carefully written so the marketers can gain useful insight to your experience. For example, by using a 4 point scale, there's no way you can give a neutral answer. You either have to agree to some degree or disagree to some degree. A 5 point scale, on the other hand, does provide room for neutrality.

Designing Questions

Let's talk about how you can write and design a good marketing research questionnaire. There are two basic question types you can use - structured and unstructured - both of which have their merits.


Structured questions give a scale or choice between a selected number of answers. There are three types of structured questions:

1. Dichotomous questions give only two answer choices:

  • Did you purchase an item from our store between January and March of 2017? Yes or No

2. Multiple-choice questions, as you probably guessed, have multiple answer choices. An example of a multiple-choice question is:

  • Which of the following pets do you own? Select all that apply.
    • Dog
    • Cat
    • Fish
    • Rabbit
    • Hamster
    • Bird

3. The third type of structured questions are scaled questions where a rating level is offered. A sample scaled question would be:

  • I am satisfied with my latest purchase.
    • Strongly agree
    • Somewhat agree
    • Somewhat disagree
    • Strongly disagree


Unstructured questions are open-ended questions where you can answer any way you like. An example would be:

  • How can we improve?

Structured questions are fast to analyze and provide more quantitative data, whereas unstructured questions are good for getting to know your customer's thoughts and feelings. Unstructured questions are best used as sub-questions to get more information from a structured question. For example, after ''I am satisfied with my latest purchase'' you can include the unstructured question of:

  • Please explain. find out why your customer answered the way he or she did. This is a simple question prompt, but it can give you more insight into why your customer chose the rating that he or she did.

Which Type of Question to Use?

You can mix the types of questions any way you like, but follow a general flow. Begin with introductory questions that then flow into the topics you want to cover. Start with general questions that lead to more detailed questions. And, group similar questions together, varying your question types to keep your customers engaged. Place your most important questions at the beginning, such as demographics (age, income, etc.), as people tend not have the attention span to answer the questions towards the end.

Improving Response Rate

Even well-written marketing research questionnaires have to consider the response rate, or how many people actually fill out or answer the questionnaire. To help increase your response rate, keep your questionnaire as short as possible.

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