Marketing surveys are useful tools because they can help you gather information to make more informed business decisions. How big is your target market? Will the product you’re considering launching appeal to your current customers? What are the attitudes of your customers about your company or product(s)? Surveys can help you answer these and other questions.
- Determine the purpose of your survey. What information are you trying to find? Maybe you’d like to determine if your product offering should be changed or tweaked. Or are you trying to find out how satisfied (or unsatisfied) your customers are. Perhaps you’re trying to determine the behaviour and habits of your target customers.
- Decide who should fill out your survey. Who is your target audience? Decide if your respondents should be your website visitors, previous customers, coffee shop customers, university students etc. It’s important to get relevant respondents to have meaningful data.
- Develop a set of questions that all respondents will fill out. There are a wide variety of question types you can use. Examples include yes/no, multiple choice, ratings, and open ended questions. Choose the question type(s) most appropriate for your circumstances.
- Distribute the survey. Using your email opt-in list is the most cost effective. If you don’t have a customer list, you can subscribe to a marketing service that will give you addresses of potential respondents who have shown interested in your field. Surveys can also be sent by mail or given out by hand.
- Collect, view and interpret the data. If you you’ve handed out and collected old school paper surveys, somebody will need to input the data into some kind of survey software for easier analysis. Online surveys are easier to manage and most survey software you find today can generate useful charts and summaries to help you draw conclusions.
- People are more likely to do something if there is something in it for them. Use incentives to increase response rates. Offer things like discounts or coupons, especially if your survey is long and boring. At the very least, explain the purpose of your survey and how the respondent’s answers will benefit them, society, polar bears or whatever.
- Ask personal questions such as age and gender at the end of the survey. Respondents will more likely answer them if they are positioned near the end.
- Keep the survey as short as possible. The more questions you ask, the more information you can obtain but the less likely the survey will be completed by the respondent. It’s a balancing act. Make sure each question has a purpose.
- Be sure to keep the questions in the same order for each respondent.
Make the questions clear and pay attention to phrasing – avoid “leading” and “loaded” questions. These types of questions tend to bias results.
- Leading questions use language which suggests a particular answer and can serve as a form of persuasion. For example, this is a leading question: “Don’t you prefer buying from shops that offer discounts regularly?”. Better phrasing would be “Do you prefer buying from shops that offer discounts regularly?”
- Loaded questions should be avoided because they contain assumptions that may not be true. An commonly used example of a loaded question is: “Have you stopped beating your wife?” This question assumes that you have beaten your wife and that you are, in fact, married. If you are not married, or have never beaten your wife, then the question is loaded.