This post is sponsored and written by Formstack, an easy-to-use online form building solution.

Are your alumni as engaged as you want them to be? Or are they passively receiving information from your school without much interaction? A strong alumni network is incredibly valuable, and it can be a challenge to create one.

Focus on the user experience in your communications to boost engagement and improve alumni satisfaction. Surveys can be powerful tools to assess and engage alumni. Here are some simple tips that will help you improve your alumni’s experience.

Tip #1. Keep it quick
The clock starts ticking as soon as people click on your survey link. If you take too much of their time, users will abandon your form. Kick off the survey with easy, engaging questions to make your respondents feel more comfortable.

Save more personal information for later in the survey, after you already have some buy-in. The rule of thumb is that surveys should take less than five minutes to fill out. If you have a highly specialized or qualified group, you can ask for a little bit more.

Tip #2: Work smarter, not harder
One way to improve the speed of your survey is by creating a “smart” survey that shows and hides questions based on how users respond. It is an easy way to keep forms short while still capturing the information you need. Crafting a smarter survey lowers your abandonment rate because it only asks necessary questions.

For example, if a person selects that they are interested in alumni tailgating, you can set up the survey to ask a follow-up question: “Which dates would you most likely attend?” Because the question is set up with conditional logic, only the people interested in the tailgate are asked to select a date. This creates a dynamic experience for your alumni and the best possible data for you.

Tip #3: Be brand-conscious
Your school works hard to create a consistent online brand. If your survey does not fit the rest of your site, alumni could become confused and refuse to fill it out. Branding is key to a high conversion rate, so use official logos and colors to maintain continuity.

If possible, embed your survey in your website. Recent research shows that 62 percent of people who embed their forms report an increase in submissions. Alumni will be reassured that their information is secure and they won’t be confused or concerned.

Tip #4: Use analytics to your advantage
Have you ever wondered how many alumni start your surveys but don’t finish them? Analytics can help you figure out which questions are causing them to click away. For example, bottlenecks show you where people are getting stuck in your form. Perhaps your question is unclear, too personal, or required.

Analytics can also show your survey’s unique views, conversion rate, and more. Review how past surveys perform to help you craft new surveys that resonate with your alumni.

Tip #5: Change your button
Your submit button might not seem like much, but it could be the reason your alumni don’t want to submit their surveys! Since the button is the last place a user can hesitate, you should craft it carefully. Don’t just rely on the default text. Optimize your submit button so alumni feel good about submitting their survey.

A successful submit button should communicate a clear call to action. A recent study reveals that specific language in submit buttons results in higher conversion rates. A button as simple as “Submit my survey” or “Share my opinion” could increase your submissions. Test what works best for your alumni.

Tip #6: Watch your language
Craft your survey carefully; the words you choose can impact your results. Avoid biased language or leading questions. Keep away from confusing questions like, “Do you like football games or basketball games?” with only a “yes/no” option. Some people prefer football, some basketball, some both, and some neither.

Sometimes the choices available simply do not apply to alumni. For those cases, remember to include “other” as a choice. An “other” option allows respondents to offer additional explanation.

Survey away!
With the right attention to detail, you can create surveys that alumni actually want to fill out. Don’t be afraid to have some fun and try something new with your surveys. Use a silly tone or offer swag to your respondents. Ask away—and always evaluate what works best for your school.

About the Author
Laura Thrasher is a writer at Formstack, an online form building platform that makes it easy to capture and manage data. Based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, she taught English at the University of Alabama and enjoys sharing what she knows through speaking and writing. She is originally from the Midwest and enjoys good restaurants, cheesy jokes, and running the occasional half marathon. Follow her on Twitter (@lauranav) or Google+.


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