Question time

Surveys are a great way to gain insight into your industry, markets and customers - and there are resources available to do this relatively inexpensively or for free.

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By: Amelia Caldecott on 3rd May 2020, 6 minute read

Surveys are a great way to gain insight into your industry, markets and customers - or to confirm any assumptions you may have made about them. While in-depth research projects can be costly, there are resources available to do this relatively inexpensively, or for free.

Types of information you can explore

You could create a survey about anything, but here are some of the popular areas businesses research:

  • Customer satisfaction, including how likely are they to recommend your company
  • Brand awareness
  • Target market understanding
  • Market research
  • Business demographics or ‘firmographics’
  • Understanding your competition
  • Website feedback
  • Research for content marketing
“When we surveyed marketing experts about branding, even though 80% say they think it’s extremely or very important to measure brand awareness, only 24% actually know how.””
— Source: SurveyMonkey

What to ask

There are a host of platforms out there who have done most of the leg work for you by providing pre-prepared questions in ready to use templates - most of which are customisable, although free versions are likely to have limits on what you can change. This is, at the very least, a great starting place once you know what you want to survey. Select the relevant template and review the suggested questions. You should be able to remove, replace or edit them to make it more relevant to your database and for your needs. Otherwise, simply recreate your own template.

Getting answers

Let's be honest here, nobody gets excited about the opportunity to complete a survey, so making that first impression is really important to avoid the delete button.

  • Email subject line
    The subject line needs to be concise and emotive if possible. Personalisation works well here. Examples include:
    • We need your help
    • How are we doing?
    • [First name] who would you recommend?
    • [First name], want free tickets to [event name]?
  • Introduction
    The same goes for the introduction. If you're intro is rambling and difficult to understand, chances are your survey is going to be just as laborious... they've just hit delete.

    Try to briefly cover what you want to find out and/or what you will do with the information.
    Stating that responses will be anonymised may also help encourage uptake. I've worked with businesses before who were concerned that they might encourage their customers to make comments they didn’t really want to hear or that they wouldn't get true feedback because of the working relationship. They understood, though, that while it's not appealing to receive negative comments, this is where they can make improvements and satisfy their customers. Just make sure that it is anonymous if you’re going to say it is.
  • Number of questions
    • State how many questions there are and provide an estimate of how long it's likely to take.
    • Don't ask too much of your customers (literally). A maximum of 8 questions is usually enough but try to keep them short. If it starts to feel like a chore or that the questions are never-ending, they'll cut their losses and drop out. Some platforms offer the ability to include a status bar so they can see their progress and gauge how much longer it’s likely to take. As long as you haven’t asked 50 questions this should encourage them to keep going.
  • Incentives
    You could look at offering an incentive for responses. Many companies take this approach and it's usually in the form of a prize draw. This doesn’t always need to be of huge monetary value, but it should balance how much effort you expect from them. Consider if there’s anything industry related you could offer at little expense to you, e.g. free tickets to an event you're attending or organising, or a complimentary copy of the results. Something relevant and of value to your audience.

Using the results

Depending on the type of survey you have run, you could use the findings to create additional content marketing. Results could be shared via infographics and/or blogs, testimonials and quotes could be added to existing collateral and to your website and social media. You may even have enough to create case studies.

What now?

  • Re-runs
    Schedule to re-run your survey so you can benchmark your progress or identify any changes in trends. Depending on the subject matter and your database, this could be anything from 3 months to a year. You won’t want to run them too often though or you’ll risk survey-fatigue, especially if you’re planning to research multiple areas, so make sure you factor in other communications when you’re planning a resend.

    Regular communication with your customers in this way demonstrates that they are important to you and that you’re listening and engaged with them.

  • Other surveys
    Do the results suggest further research on a specific topic? Perhaps run a second, more focused survey 3-6 months after. Then repeat 1 year later to compare.

  • Employees
    You don’t have to limit this process to your customers and prospects, checking in with employees is just as important for the business too.

We can help you plan and write the questions, build and brand the survey, and develop and broadcast communications before and after to make the most of your efforts. Don’t forget, the survey doesn’t end there. We can help you plan the next steps based on the results.

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Amelia Caldecott


Amelia Caldecott

A qualified marketer with a Professional Diploma in Marketing, Amelia plays an important role in looking after The Marketing Eye's clients, primarily in the financial services, professional services and hotels sectors.

Client Partner / The Marketing Eye

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