Top 10 demographic questions to ask in your surveys

Surveying your clients can reveal how people view your business and show you ways to improve. Including demographic questions in your surveys can tell you why customers see you the way they do. These questions can also indicate trends in thinking and behavior.

For instance, multiple surveys have found that the majority of people in the U.S. favor an increase in taxes for the wealthy. Once you look at the demographics, something interesting happens. We find just how widespread this belief is.

Across the board, regardless of gender, age, or political persuasion, the majority of participants believe the rich should pay more. When it comes to political matters, it’s rare to find such a high level of consensus.

Examining the demographics reveals more than if you simply read the participants’ opinions and beliefs. Demographic info provides context. By asking the right demographic questions, you can learn more about your clients. Let’s look at some basic demographic questions you can use in your next survey.   

So, how old are you? Getting to know your clients

Even the most basic information about people can help you understand who they are and what their experiences in life have been. But tread carefully. Some of these subjects are sensitive. Ask only for the information you definitely need, and phrase things carefully. A slight change in wording can make someone uncomfortable enough to leave your survey.

Here are some basic questions you can include on your survey:

  1. What’s your age? You can use a text box where people input their age or year of birth. Or you can create age ranges for people to choose from.
  2. What gender do you most identify as? This question in particular needs to be phrased carefully. Consider giving people the option to write a short answer in their own words. For instance, you could use a list like this:
    1. Female
    2. Male 
    3. Nonbinary/third gender
    4. Other (text entry box)   
  3. What is your ethnicity? Ethnicity, the culture and background someone was raised in, can be a tricky subject. Allow people to select multiple options or write a short answer so that everyone feels included.
  4. What languages do you speak? You may have a strong international user base that you don’t even know about. Or your clients may speak a second language and would appreciate having content in that language.
  5. Where do you live? If you have visitors from around the world, consider providing a list of countries they can choose from. A base of local clients may want to include their city or zip code in a text entry box.

Going back to basics allows you to get a good picture of who’s taking your survey and what their background is. However, you may be more interested in someone’s present than their past. What situations are they currently dealing with?

A family walking down the street

How’s home? Learning about your clients’ home life

What goes on in someone’s home life has a huge impact on their day-to-day life. From how much they can afford to splurge on something to who they have to think about when they make decisions, what happens at home can give you insight into their concerns.

  1. What’s your current relationship status? Be sure to include all types of relationships, such as
    1. Married
    2. In a domestic partnership
    3. Widowed
    4. Divorced
    5. Separated
    6. Single/never married
  2. What’s your household income? A dollar range may be the best way to phrase the answers.
  3. Do you have any children or dependents? You can provide yes and no answer options, along with a text entry box where respondents can list more information, such as the number of children they have, if they want.

A person’s home life reveals who they’re focused on — themselves or family members. This helps you see why they make certain decisions, but it doesn’t give you the full story. Finding out where they are in their professional life will show who’s interested in your products and how much control they have over corporate decisions.

What do you do for a living? Where your clients are in life

Knowing how far up the corporate ladder someone is reveals what level of control they have over purchasing a product or service. In contrast, learning how much education your average user has gives you a better understanding of how you can tailor your content to your audience.

  1. What level of education do you have? Make sure to include options such as “currently a student.”
  2. What is your current employment status? Your list of answers could look something like this:
    1. Working full time (40 hours or more a week)
    2. Working part time
    3. Unemployed but looking for opportunities
    4. Unemployed and not looking for offers
    5. Unable to work
    6. Retired
    7. Student

Understanding where someone is in their professional life gives you insight into what kind of people are interested in your products and whether they have the power to buy them for their entire company.

The right demographic questions help you see not only what someone believes but why they have those beliefs.

Tell me about yourself

Looking at demographics can give you some surprising insights and help you see beyond the surface answers. Digging deeper into who someone is can help you get the data you need to improve your business.  
With Jotform, you can create and manage online surveys. We offer top-notch security and 80+ integrations to help you organize and act on the information you collect.

This article is originally published on Mar 04, 2020, and updated on Apr 25, 2022.

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