Demographic Survey Questions

Asking demographic survey questions can help you better understand your audience. Learn more about what to ask by reading this article.

Surveys are an excellent tool for your targeted marketing campaigns. However, you will not be able to survey customers effectively or segment your audience without demographic survey questions. Asking effective demographic survey questions can help you better understand your customers and bolster any successful email marketing campaign.

You want to focus digital advertising efforts on interested people—not those who consider your messaging a bother. When you start surveys with demographic questions, you can narrow your markets and advertise successfully. Read on to learn more about the best demographic survey questions or navigate the article using the links below.

What Are Demographic Questions?

Demographic questions determine the characteristics of your most robust customer base. By asking customers questions regarding age, gender, income level, education level, and location, you can better understand your target audience and devise more effective marketing campaigns in the future.

Why Are Demographic Survey Questions Important?

Demographic survey questions make essential advertising functions easier. Their benefits include:

  • Easier audience segmentation: You will likely segment your audience further after determining general demographics. However, once you lay out the demographics, you can create broad and narrow marketing profiles and decide on strategies for each profile. The result is more effective targeted marketing that brings in more customers than a general all-encompassing approach.
  • Revealing trends and patterns: Your demographic questions may reveal trends and patterns that help you refine advertising and email campaigns. For example, you may discover that middle-aged women on the West Coast love your seaside themes for your home decor store. Or you may find your customer base is younger and spends more time on Instagram than Facebook. These insights can tell you where to focus your advertising efforts.
  • Finding the correct target audience: We all start businesses with a vision of our ideal customers. But reality can change your expectations. Those high-end fountain pens you targeted towards CEOs could become popular with female college students. You know to change your approach to include Instagram ads and Pinterest, for instance, rather than rely entirely on email campaigns to Fortune 500 leaders when you have this information.
  • A better understanding of survey answers: Demographic questions reveal information that help you with the big picture. Age can relate to technology proficiency, favorite social media platforms, and income. For example, you may find those claiming high command with mobile apps are aged 40 and under.
  • Determining survey validity: Effective surveys include diverse results. You want an assortment of ages, income levels, and employment statuses to secure an overall picture. If your survey respondents are all white and middle class, you are unlikely to gain valuable insights. You may have to change your survey to be more inclusive or see if you limit your targeting too much.
  • Improved customer experience: A survey with diverse results helps you cater to customers better. You see the different characteristics of your customer base and how they relate to your products and services. If you find negative feedback from one group, you may need to adjust for more inclusivity. Or if something works well with your target groups, you know to continue it.

How to Collect Demographic Survey Question Information

There are strategies for choosing demographic questions for surveys and presenting a demographic survey question. A few of these include:

  • Make surveys optional: Including a survey as a requirement for purchase or reading content is a great way to send traffic away from your business. Instead, consider sending surveys in an email campaign. You can also send surveys automatically after a customer makes a purchase.
  • Add incentives: An Amazon gift card or store discount encourages survey answers. Even if you only offer a coupon for 10% off, people will love the opportunity to save a little money.
  • Include ‘Prefer Not to Answer’ as an option: You may have customers perfectly willing to share their employment status, income information, and location, but feel sensitive about answering a demographic survey question about age, gender, and ethnicity. Some information is better than none; let people answer according to their comfort level.
  • Use ranges: People may not want to give you their specific age or income level. Instead, offer the answer option as a range.

You also need a survey creation and distribution system. Mailchimp helps you create demographic questions for the survey and send them to customers. The science of demographic questions may seem difficult at times, but fortunately carrying out a survey may take you less time than you may imagine.

Best demographic survey questions

Your preferred demographic survey questions depend on the information you require. The following suggestions are not necessarily required, but are commonly included in customer surveys. Consider the value of each of them and make an informed decision on which ones you’d like to include.

Age

Many people are sensitive about their age. However, age can be a deciding factor when coordinating advertising campaigns. The approach you take with the age 40 and up crowd is not the same as the 18 to 24 demographic. For example, age may determine:

  • Pop culture references used in blog articles and social media ads
  • Which social media platform receives the most focus
  • Colors, styles, and designs for products and ads
  • Types of discounts you offer and how often

You want to give age options as a range and include a “prefer not to answer.” Your age question may present as follows:

How old are you?

  1. Under 18
  2. 19 - 24 years old
  3. 25 - 40 years old
  4. 41 - 55 years old
  5. 55+
  6. I prefer not to answer

Gender

Gender is fundamental to demographic questions. While people may not conform to their gender’s stereotypes, trends and patterns are still connected to gender. You must present this demographic survey question with sensitivity.

First, always use “gender,” not “sex.” Gender allows for different perspectives as you may have transgender or non-binary customers. Second, give the ‘prefer not to answer’ option.

Finally, rather than include an option for non-binary, define that field as “other” and leave a blank area for people to self-identify. That way, you are not overly limiting and allow for inclusivity.

A sample question regarding gender may look like this:

What is your gender identity?

  1. Female
  2. Male
  3. Other (with answer field)
  4. I prefer not to answer

Location

Your customers may live in places you never expected. Surveys may reveal your most significant clientele is in Mexico, the American West, or Alaska. Like gender and age, location also determines markets. The results may require you to create bilingual ad campaigns or focus on different geographic areas.

That said, you do not have to list every possible country. If you run an international business, you might decide to list location by continent:

Where do you live?

  1. North America/Central America
  2. South America
  3. Europe
  4. Africa
  5. Australia
  6. Caribbean/Pacific Islands
  7. Other (with answer field)
  8. I prefer not to say

For strictly local businesses, you likely do not need far-reaching results. In these cases, you can just request zip codes. The best way to ask this question is with a blank field:

What is your home zip code?

[Blank field]

There is also the regional approach. If your business only serves a few states or countries, try this:

Where do you live?

  1. New York
  2. New Jersey
  3. Pennsylvania
  4. Other

There are many options for requesting location information. However, unless the customer makes a purchase, never ask for street addresses. For many people, that is too intrusive and the information may be too specific to help you.

Ethnicity

There are instances where ethnicity and race are critical demographic questions. However, you must avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Many societies are cultural melting pots, and individuals may not identify with a single ethnicity. Allow people to identify as multi-racial or decline to answer.

You can present this question as follows:

What is your ethnic background?

  1. White/Caucasian
  2. Asian/Eastern
  3. Asian/Indian
  4. Hispanic
  5. African American
  6. Native American
  7. Multiracial
  8. Other [Add blank field]
  9. I prefer not to answer

Education Level

Education levels suggest unique trends. Your services may appeal more to those with advanced degrees than trade school graduates. The information helps you form advertising campaigns that best relate to your target audience. For example, if your specialty is accounting services for law firms, you may do better with a LinkedIn campaign than a Pinterest focus.

You want to ask about the highest education level obtained as follows:

What is the highest level of education you received?

  1. High school
  2. College degree
  3. Master’s degree or above
  4. Other [Add blank field]
  5. I prefer not to answer

Employment Status

Your business may cater to an industry or pay grade. A tech worker who performs services from a home office has different needs than a car mechanic working in a shop. You can refine these market profiles by asking about employment status, job function, or industry.

For general employment status, try asking:

What is your employment status?

  1. Full time
  2. Part-time
  3. Contractor or self-employed
  4. Unemployed
  5. Unable to work
  6. Other [add blank field]
  7. I prefer not to say

There are also job or organization questions like:

What is your primary role at your company?

  1. Manager
  2. Director
  3. CEO
  4. Product Purchases or Choices
  5. Other [add blank field]
  6. I prefer not to say

However, if you are more interested in industry fields, try this example using options relevant to your business:

Which is your primary industry?

  1. Professional services (e.g., lawyer or CPA)
  2. Trade services (e.g., mechanic, plumber, or electrician)
  3. Retail
  4. Media and publishing
  5. Government or military
  6. Other [add blank field]
  7. I prefer not to answer

Marital Status

Married people face different buying influences than single people. If your customers are married or in a domestic partnership, they likely confer with their partner on purchases—especially major purchases. Single people may read reviews, talk to friends, or choose independently. Each group requires different approaches from your advertising campaigns.

You have a couple of options when you ask for marital status. One is the general yes or no question:

Are you married?

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. I prefer not to answer

You can also ask about marital status:

What is your marital status?

  1. Married
  2. Never married
  3. Divorced
  4. Separated
  5. Widowed
  6. Domestic Partnership
  7. I prefer not to answer

Household Income

Like employment status or work roles, household income indicates preferences. You likely want to advertise your high-end fountain pens to six-figure earners rather than those working minimum wage jobs. However, if you sell good products for lower prices, you may wish to focus on lower-income earners.

The best way to approach income is in a broad non judgemental way. Indicate ranges, not specific numbers. Here is an example:

What is your annual household income?

  1. Under $25,000
  2. $25,000 to $50,000
  3. $50,000 to $100,000
  4. Over $100,000
  5. I prefer not to say

Final Notes

Demographic questions may feel awkward, but they are vital to defining marketing profiles. Knowing your customers’ backgrounds also allows for accurate audience segmentation and the development of new products and services.

Mailchimp is not just about email marketing—it is your all-in-one marketing platform. With Mailchimp, you can easily create and distribute customer surveys, and then organize responses into insightful reports. Sign up today to start creating the best demographic survey questions for your company or industry.

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