After putting time and energy into event planning, set-up, and advertising, it’s tempting to breathe out a sigh of relief when it’s over. But don’t put your feet up just yet! To get the most out of your event — and throw increasingly successful events in the future — there’s one more step you need to prioritize: the post-event survey. 

Post-event surveys allow you to measure your event’s success and develop better event marketing strategies for the future.

Getting feedback from event attendees allows you to see what went well and what didn’t, and it can provide helpful suggestions that you wouldn’t get without asking. Take advantage of this opportunity by learning how to conduct a successful survey, including the types of questions to ask and the best ways to follow up on survey results. 

Why you want to conduct post-event surveys

There are three primary benefits of post-event surveys: 

  • Measuring event success
  • Improving future events
  • Building trust with your audience by showing them that you value their opinions  

Measuring event success

Post-event surveys can tell you how participants felt about your event. This is essential for you to understand and measure your results so you can replicate your successes. 

For example, if your goal was to create memorable event promotion materials, you could measure this by asking participants how they felt and what they remember about your event’s advertisements.

A way in which companies measure event success is by using surveys to determine their NPS (Net Promoter Score). This score is a great key performance indicator since it suggests how many participants might become loyal customers in the future. 

Improving upcoming events

You can also use post-event surveys to collect data about which aspects of your event need improvement — or which ones you should leave behind for next time. You and your team can use this data as an event planning resource to plan future events.

For instance, imagine that you had an event with a live band. You may have found the band to be charismatic and fun. This belief could lead you to decide that putting money toward a live band is a great strategy for future events. 

However, after conducting a survey, you may be surprised to learn that the majority of your event attendees found the band to be loud and overstimulating. Having this essential feedback makes it clear that the money you would have spent on a band for the next event should go elsewhere.

Ultimately, collecting feedback after an event gives you useful information about where to allocate resources and helps you better understand your audience. Instead of relying solely on your personal impressions of the event, post-event surveys allow you to use data from multiple participants to develop a well-rounded perspective on how things went. 

By analyzing event details through the lens of a post-event survey, you put your team in a much better position to plan future events with certainty.

Building trust with your audience

When you send your customers a post-event survey, you prove that you value their opinions and are taking those opinions into consideration. In fact, 77% of customers prefer brands that ask for customer feedback

You can further show care for your customers by using that information to make concrete and memorable changes. For example, you can build trust within your community by sharing post-event survey results and explaining how you plan to implement those changes. Finding ways to be more transparent with your customers is key to improving customer relations, and conducting post-event surveys is a great way of doing so. 

How to conduct a post-event survey

Designing a good survey is key to ensuring that you can take full advantage of responses. According to one 2022 study, surveys tend to have a low response rate, with the average response to online surveys being 44.1%. This is especially true for smaller events that may have only had a few participants — after all, when your sample size is small, every voice counts. 

Luckily, with the following advice, you’ll know how to ask the right questions to engage your audience and get helpful responses.

Understand your audience

Before sending out your survey, you first want to know your audience. Studies show that sending post-event surveys to more people doesn’t increase responses. Instead, sending them to a clearly-defined subset of individuals does.

For example, imagine that a nonprofit museum is hosting an event showcasing a new exhibit. While they could send post-event surveys to every member of their mailing list, they would see better results by sending them to people who attended the event as they’re already within their target market.

Finetuning who your audience is and how they behave can also help you choose which type of questions to include in your survey. For example, you may ask more multiple-choice questions if you have a busy demographic that doesn’t like to spend a lot of time on surveys. If, on the other hand, you’re working with an audience who loves to give their opinions, more open-ended survey questions may serve you best. 

Depending on your event, you may choose to create multiple post-event surveys for different demographics. For instance, you could send one set of post-event questions to your event’s volunteers and another set to attendees, who may have different perspectives on similar activities. Multiple post-event surveys can help you focus on different aspects of your event while helping you preserve people’s time.

Send a post-event survey email  

Using post-event surveys in your event email marketing is a convenient way to distribute them to everyone you advertised your event to. By including a link to your survey in an email, you can deliver your questionnaire right to their inbox. 

There are multiple ways to get event feedback via email. For instance, one-question surveys make it easy for recipients to respond with just one click. Or, you can include a link to a more in-depth survey hosted by a different website. 

This is a great example of how to send a survey out via email. Note that Amazon manages expectations by explaining how long the survey will take. They then leave a direct link to the survey in the email.

When sending surveys, briefly explain the purpose of your survey — including how you will use the answers — in your initial email. This transparency builds trust with your audience and gives them a reason to respond authentically.

Offer incentives

If you’re looking to boost survey responses, offering an incentive for people to fill out post-event surveys can be an effective strategy.

It’s important to keep survey incentives small. This is for the sake of your budget as well as the quality of the data you collect. Examples include a $2 discount on your ecommerce site or entrance into a lottery for a larger gift card.

Be sure to offer the incentive to everyone who participates, whether it’s a small prize or simply the chance to win something. By tying the incentive to participating itself, rather than to a specific answer, you increase the chances of people filling out the questionnaire without skewing your results. 

Types of post-event survey questions

Survey questions come in all forms. When developing your post-event survey, you should consider your audience and objectives to encourage a high response rate and useful responses.

As you identify your audience type, decide which question type (or combination of question types) is ideal. The longer your survey is, the less likely it is that participants will complete it. Thus, provide a short survey with to-the-point questions that’ll offer the most feedback from your audience. 

By understanding the different types of questions in your toolbox, you can make an informed decision about the right questions to ask your audience. 

Open-ended questions

Open-ended questions invite participants to answer a question freely and in their own words. 

These questions generally take more time to answer. For this reason, it’s best to use open-ended questions sparingly to avoid overwhelming survey participants. For example, many survey designers put a single comment box at the end of a questionnaire so users can elaborate on their experiences.

When used correctly, open-ended questions can provide a deeper understanding of how participants felt about your event than close-ended questions alone. 

Open-ended questions are especially useful for garnering constructive criticism. By giving your audience the chance to share as much of their opinion as possible, you increase the chances that they’ll provide a perspective you hadn’t considered. 

Closed-ended questions

Closed-ended questions have a limited number of answers. These include demographic questions, multiple-choice questions, and questions that ask participants to rank their responses on a scale. 

Because closed-ended questions are easy to answer, they can boost survey response rates. And because the answers are limited, you can analyze the data easily through the use of graphs or charts without having to worry about outlying answers. 

Demographic questions

Demographic questions include things like:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Type of participation

Demographic data can be used in various ways. 

You may use demographic data to start your survey. Based on your participants’ answers, you may segment results and direct them down different paths within your survey. For example, you might have one set of post-event survey questions for people who attended your event in person and another set for people who only attended online. 

On the other hand, demographic data may be one of the data points you’re examining. If you’re trying to decide whether your event properly targeted your target audience, for example, or you’re trying to determine who most benefited from your event, demographic data may be a key aspect of your questionnaire. 

Yes or no questions

As the name indicates, yes or no questions are questions that can be answered with either a “yes” or a “no.” An example of this is the question, “Did you enjoy this event?” 

These questions provide a limited amount of data. But because they’re quick and easy, you can garner a lot of answers in a very short period of time. 

You can even use yes or no questions as a lead-in to your main survey. For example, you might have a question like “Did you enjoy this event?” on your social media page, marked by your event hashtags. Anyone who clicks on a “yes” or a “no” might then be directed to your full post-event survey. But even if they choose not to go through with the full survey, you can use their initial yes or no answer to measure one aspect of your event’s success.

Matrix questions or Likert scale questions

A subset of closed-ended questions, matrix questions invite participants to rate their answers on a spectrum. For example, you might have a spectrum that ranges from 1-10, or from “very true” to “very untrue.” 

Likert scale questions are a type of matrix question. These questions typically use either five or seven options. The odd numbers on a Likert scale weight the questions so that the difference between a positive response, a neutral response, and a negative response is apparent. 

Multiple-choice questions

Another type of closed-ended question, multiple-choice questions are a little less structured than Likert scale questions but don’t require participants to come up with their own answers. For a multiple-choice question, the user can either choose one or multiple pre-written responses.

The best post-event survey questions to ask your attendees

Looking for some ideas for quality post-event survey questions? Let’s break down some of the best questions based on the question type. 

Top open-ended survey questions

  • What did you like most about this event? 
  • What would you like to see changed about this event in the future? 
  • How could we improve our event marketing? 
  • What made you want to attend this event? 
  • What were your expectations of this event before you attended it? 
  • What aspect of this event were you most looking forward to? 
  • What is one thing we could have done to make your experience better? 

Top demographic questions

  • What’s your age (or age range)? 
  • What gender do you identify with? 
  • What’s the highest level of education you’ve completed? 
  • Did you attend this event as a sponsor, a volunteer, or a participant? 
  • Where are you from? 
  • What industry do you work in? 
  • What is your job title? 
  • How many people are in your household? 

Top yes or no questions

  • Would you recommend this event to a friend? 
  • Do you plan to attend this event again next year? 
  • Did this event meet your expectations? 
  • Did you learn anything from this event? 
  • Did you enjoy this event? 
  • Have you been to this event in the past? 
  • Did you post about this event on social media? 

Top matrix or Likert scale questions

  • On a scale of 1-10, how much did you enjoy this year’s performance? 
  • How satisfied were you with this year’s keynote speaker? 
  • How would you rate this event overall? 
  • On a scale of 1-10, how useful did you find this event? 
  • How likely are you to attend our future events? 
  • How easy was it to participate in virtual event features? 
  • How easy was it to sign up for this event? 
  • On a scale of 1-10, how well-organized was this event? 
  • How would you rank our customer service at this event? 

Top multiple-choice questions

  • Which of the following was your favorite event activity? 
  • Who was your favorite speaker? 
  • Which seminar was the most informative? 
  • Where did you first hear about this event? 
  • Did you attend this event virtually or in person? 

How to use post-event survey data

Once you’ve conducted your post-event survey, it’s time to start putting the data to work. Sorting, analyzing, and using post-event survey data helps you create increasingly impressive events in the future. 

Sorting post-event survey data

One of the first things you should do once you have your post-event survey data is to organize it. For example, you might sort data based on the topic of a question. All questions pertaining to marketing may go together, while questions about the day of the event may belong in another file. 

You can also sort survey responses based on demographics. This can be helpful if you want to know what aspects of your event were most important to members of different demographics. For instance, it may be relevant to know which aspects of your event men liked most, especially if you’re trying to increase the number of male participants for the next event. 

Analyzing post-event survey data

Once you’ve sorted post-event survey data by topic or demographic, the next step is to interpret your survey results.

First, you can visualize the frequency of certain responses. Creating a point graph of question responses is a useful way to visualize the answers to the questions you’ve received. 

When analyzing data, you can also categorize responses to determine “things we’ve done well” and “things that need improvement.” This strategy can help you set priorities in the future and make key decisions about upcoming events. 

You should also consider the impact of certain responses or trends when analyzing data. For example, if respondents consistently noted “theme” as one of their favorite aspects of the event, but the theme wasn’t the point of your event, that positive feedback is low impact, and you may want to spend your time analyzing more important response trends instead. 

Using post-event survey data for future decision-making

Once you’ve sorted and analyzed your data, your final step is to determine how best to use your data when making decisions about future events. 

Take notes about the things your audiences seemed to like best about your event. Use this to then build successful future events that are bound to attract repeat participants.

Once you know what your successes were, the next step is to look at customer complaints. Pay close attention to responses to open-ended questions. If participants took the time to answer open-ended questions, their advice is worth considering. Discuss with your team whether it makes sense to implement their suggestions and what it would take to resolve any problems that came up during the post-event survey. 

It may not be possible to address all problems at your next event. An impact chart can help you decide which problems to address first. You should address high-impact, low-cost changes first, as these can be easy wins for your brand. Deprioritize changes that are expensive and have minimal impacts. 

This cost-impact chart shows how brands can prioritize changes based on the impact on customers and estimated cost.

Keep in mind that some survey responses will be specific to the type of event you just put on, while other responses can be generalized and used to guide all future events. 

For example, a survey response that says, “I love that we used the high school track for this walk-a-thon,” only needs to be considered for future walk-a-thon events. On the other hand, “I wish there had been more email reminders,” is the type of feedback that you can use to guide future event communications. Understanding the difference between event-specific feedback and generalizable feedback helps you make the most of your audience’s survey results. 

Make the most out of post-event survey data

Your post-event survey takes all of the event planning you did and gives you a tangible measure of your event’s success. Knowing what questions to ask and how to prioritize responses can help you make the most of this surveying process. As a result, you’ll be able to measure event success and improve future events while simultaneously building trust with your audience. 

Get started today by creating or examining the SMART goals you made for your event. Based on those goals, determine the questions that can help you measure your event’s success, being sure to include a mix of open-ended and closed-ended questions. Then, organize your questions based on how you plan to sort answers later on. 

And remember, if you can, offer an incentive for survey completion to improve the chances of your audience members completing the survey.