We're all familiar with the post-show survey, either from experience of sending them or of filling them in ourselves. Most of us have also probably been guilty of starting to complete a post-show survey with the best of intentions before giving up after seeing how many questions there are still to fill out. Or maybe I'm just admitting something about myself here...

Either way, the key to getting a good response rate from the public (with their varying levels of patience) is straightforward: make it easy and keep it brief.

Making it easy means sending it at the right time and ensuring that it can be filled out on whatever device the customer happens to have with them. A large proportion of your audience will be sitting on public transport after the show; make the most of that time and send a post-show survey while the experience is still fresh in their minds.

The majority of surveys ask which show the respondent saw and when they visited, along with other similar questions. This is a near-criminal waste of the precious time and attention the customer has kindly volunteered. What's more, the shorter the form the more likely it is that the customer will make it to the end. You already have this information elsewhere so let's use it rather than giving your audiences extra work!

This is where hidden fields and link personalisation come in. Most form builders can include hidden fields in your form. Hidden fields are still included in your responses but the customer doesn't have to fill them in. Instead, you can fill them in automatically by modifying the link to the survey itself. We're using dotdigital in these examples, but the same thing is possible (with small differences in implementation) if you're using Typeform, SurveyMonkey, Formstack, Qualtrics, Wufoo or almost any other survey tool. If you're not sure whether it's possible in your system of choice, drop us a line and we'll find out.

Let's say you've got three hidden fields for the customer ID, the event name and the instance date/time. If your normal survey link looks like this:

https://r1.surveysandforms.com/0a8f5291-4s5d58k4

Then after you've created your hidden fields you can populate them using something like this (using the correct field names for your setup and replacing [survey link] with the link to your form):

https://[survey link]?customer_id=I-HT22-3GF3&event_name=Hamlet&instance_datetime=2019-06-12T19:00:00.000

We don't want to manually create a different link for every single customer, so instead let's use crowdEngage merge tags to automatically fill in the right values:

https://[survey link]?customer_id={{ urlencode(customer.id) }}&event_name={{ urlencode(instance.event.name) }}&instance_datetime={{ urlencode(instance.start) }}

Voila! You'll notice that we've surrounded each tag in an urlencode function. This ensures it'll still work even if the value for that tag contains a character that isn't allowed in URLs (like a space). We'd also suggest that you only ever use the customer ID from your ticketing system and don't add other identifying customer information to these survey links.

The only remaining problem is that the link uses up quite a bit of your character count and you can't track clicks. That's why crowdEngage replaces every link with a special shortened link which saves space and also allows you to track the click-through rate for each URL.

Hidden fields can be a lot more powerful too. You can include more information from the customer's order like where they were sitting or which ticket type they purchased. Some survey tools let you customise the flow of the survey depending on the value of these hidden fields. For example, you could ask different questions of your various audience segments or change the flow of questions depending on the type of show. Once you've started using them we can guarantee you'll never go back.

This is the first in an occasional series of tips for getting the most out of crowdEngage with ideas that can be put in to practice in minutes rather than hours. If you'd like to know more about crowdEngage or would like a bit of advice please do get in touch! We're always very happy to chat.