Your arts and entertainment business needs a steady stream of patrons. Many smaller theaters and galleries rely on loyal audience members and season-ticket holders, while gaming events rely heavily upon fans and sponsors. Either way, customer feedback can help you keep your audience. By asking the right post-event survey questions, you can figure out how to attract new customers and hang on to old ones.  

Make new friends and keep the old with quality event feedback and post-event survey questions. This article will take you through some best practices for survey design, provide good sample questions to use, and give you tips on getting people to actually respond.

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Best practices for post-event survey questions

Where to start

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel! You can draw up an online survey using a tool such as Constant Contact’s survey tool and use email marketing to promote it. 

Draw on tried-and-true practices when it comes to design by keeping the following principles in mind. 

Be SMART.

Think about what you want to achieve with your survey. Make sure that your objectives are SMART:

  • Specific. What outcome do you want? 
  • Measurable. How are you going to quantify success?
  • Achievable. The goal is both possible and plausible, something you’re confident you can achieve.
  • Relevant. The goal relates to your overarching mission and goals.
  • Time-bound. There’s a clear window for data collection.

How many people do you need to answer? What questions do you need answers to? How are you going to use that information to reflect on your overall success as an organization?

Keep it short and clear.

Less is more. Don’t ask more than ten questions. Most of those questions should require minimal effort on your patron’s part, like multiple-choice or yes-no answers.

When it comes to multiple-choice questions, the answers should be limited and straightforward. Give them four to six options, and word them as clearly and concisely as possible.

If you’re using a scale — such as asking them to rate an event or how likely they are to attend future ones — explain it clearly. You don’t want to compromise your data with confusion over whether the number one means “good” or “bad.”

Avoid double-barreled questions, which ask two things instead of one. Make sure each question focuses on one specific thing you would like evaluated.

Provide optional opportunities for elaboration.

Keep qualitative answers — answers that require your respondents to write something — to a minimum. 

However, you should provide plenty of opportunities for people to elaborate if they want to do so. Always leave space for extra comments at the end.

Make it mobile-responsive.

People generally access the internet on mobile devices, and you also want them to be able to fill out your survey quickly at a post-show meal or on their way home. 

Accept the things you cannot change.

Your organization has a certain number of givens: budget, space, time, and similar. If these are set things your survey isn’t likely to change, don’t waste time asking survey questions about any of these. Focus on things you can control and take action on.

Test them out.

Ask friends and colleagues to take the survey. Talk to them about how they interpret questions, and ensure that no avoidable miscommunications are likely.

Sample survey questions

You’ll need to customize your survey to meet the needs of your organization and event, but there are a few questions you’ll want to ask again and again. 

Questions that gauge event success 

You want to know how much people enjoyed the event, which can give you clues on how to keep them coming back for more. These minimal event reviews can help you decide what programming works and what doesn’t. 

Sample questions:

  • How likely is it that you would recommend the event to a friend or colleague?
  • How likely are you to attend one of our events in the future?
  • Overall, how would you rate the event?

Note that these questions also let you know whether you’ve managed to instill or encourage loyalty and future attendance.

Questions that gauge marketing success

These questions will help you track your digital marketing efforts and see where you’re attracting the most new customers.

Sample questions:

  • Which social media platform do you prefer?
  • How did you hear about this event?
  • Have you attended one of our events before?

Based on patron response, you’ll be able to judge your advertising initiatives’ success, giving you better insight into the channels leading to conversions and the underperforming channels.

Asking how people heard about your event can help you determine the success of marketing efforts.

Questions that gauge community sentiment

Make sure that your patrons feel your love for them. Do they feel comfortable and well-tended to?

Sample questions:

  • How friendly/helpful was the staff?
  • Do you have special needs or accommodations that we could do more to meet? Please elaborate below.

It is doubly important to make sure you follow up on any feedback in this area. Address any problems with access or attitude to your utmost ability and as soon as possible.

Questions that gauge the unexpected

You want to have at least a few qualitative questions and opportunities for patrons to expand on their answers. You might get some unexpected comments!

Sample questions:

  • What did you like?
  • What did you dislike?
  • Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

You can also invite respondents to expand on any of their answers in a provided space. 

How to ask for post-event feedback

It isn’t easy to get people to take time out of their busy days to offer you constructive feedback. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to answer surveys and write reviews. 

Be personable.

It’s a lot easier to say no to a computer than to a person. Whenever you’re asking for something, make sure to add a personal touch. Be nice or be funny or be sincere, but make sure you read the guest and tailor your ask appropriately.

Don’t miss the window.

With each hour that passes after your event, your patrons are less inclined to fill out a survey or leave a review. Make the most of your limited window with the following ideas:

Give them a heads-up.

Bring up the survey during the event by making an announcement during intermission or at the end of the show.

Get them as they walk out the door

Use a QR code or well-displayed site address that sends them to a link. If your organization has an app, you can contact them through that. 

Slip a survey inside their program

For older patrons who may be less likely to use their phones — and more likely to carry a pen — you can put a card inside their program. Ask them to fill it out and drop it off in a marked bin as they exit.

Email them immediately 

Send your attendees an email after live or virtual events. Thank them for their attendance, and invite them to leave reviews on your preferred sites or fill out a short survey. Direct their efforts clearly, rather than overwhelming them with options. 

Remember, you can automate this process with Constant Contact’s email marketing tools.

Incentivize their feedback.

Sometimes a guest just needs a little extra push to take five minutes and answer the post-event survey questions. Many businesses get more feedback by raffling off a gift card or merchandise to respondents. 

As an arts and entertainment business, you can kill two birds with one stone by offering people a chance to win a pair of tickets to your next show. Advertise upcoming productions and get feedback on present ones in one swoop.

Make sure to give concrete incentives for anonymous survey responses but not for reviews. You don’t want to give the impression that you’re trying to buy better ratings.

Invest them in your progress.

Too often, surveys feel so clinical and anonymous that they seem to demand data for its own sake. An emotional incentive can work as well as, or better than, tangible rewards. During intermission, or after the show, tell the audience how you have used previous feedback to improve or what you hope to learn with this new round of questions. Tie their efforts to real results.

Keep the conversation going

Now you know how to design a survey ⁠— and how to get answers. Take in feedback, and use it to help you with your next event and your next survey.

And remember, surveys aren’t the only tool in your arsenal. Don’t neglect one-to-one conversations and social media engagement as you’re reflecting on your event. For more great digital marketing advice, check out The Download, a step-by-step guide to help grow your business.