In business, you always have to cover your bases. Sure, every business is a risk, but as an astute leader, you have to know when to take that calculated risk or to back away. You have to do your (market) research.
This is where surveys come in. Surveys are essential to figuring out just who your market is made up of. If you use them effectively, surveys will let you know your exact demographics—in other words, your customers’ gender, ages, location, and even their jobs and how much they make. Business owners must be careful on the type of survey that they are looking at, because there are many sites that are considered as scam.
By asking the right questions, you’ll find out whether people are buying your competitor’s products, and therefore determine the demand for your own product. After this data is obtained, you’ll be able to do many things, not least of which is pinpoint the people who are most likely to buy your stuff.
These days, conducting research is dead simple—everyone’s connected, and you likely have the contact details of your customers already. Take a look at how surveys would benefit your business and how to effectively create one that would fit your needs.
Benefits of Conducting Online Surveys
1. You get results in real-time — In the past, you had to wait weeks or even months before survey results returned. Now, online surveys enable your marketing staff to get the data on-demand. In this rapidly moving Information Age, agility is critical—the old timeframe of survey results cannot apply today, because by the time you get your results, they may already be woefully out of date. With instantaneous data, you can create timely awareness, whether via social media or traditional advertising.
2. You engage in meaningful communications with your customers — A well-worded survey can make a world of difference in how your audience perceives both your company and your products. If you frame your survey in a way that would appear like asking a personal favor from your customers, as opposed to obliging them to do it, they will be more receptive. Make sure to respond to their (legitimate and reasonable) concerns as well, and show that you are listening.
3. You gain insight regarding your performance — Sometimes it’s better to have a second pair of eyes to appraise your work. When you operate your business so close to your chest, there is a tendency to be blind to how it truly appears. Survey results give you a significant amount of second opinions about how your business is perceived, further providing you with areas for improvement.
4. You are privy to potentially innovative ideas — Jumping off from number three, many of the best ideas come from those completely removed from your situation. An optional section in your survey should solicit suggestions for improvement—you never know what your most loyal customers have in mind for your company’s future.
5. You uncover trends — After a significant amount of surveys are returned, all of that data can then be analyzed. You’ll be able to see usage behaviors and preferences of your customers. You can determine whether those are beneficial to you or not, and then react accordingly. Periodic surveys will show you changes over time, allowing you to adapt as your customers grow or change.
How to Create Effective Surveys
These benefits are all well and good, but they won’t mean a thing if your surveys were not returned—or worse, returned unanswered. Sit back, for here are ways to create effective surveys:
1. Do your research — A good survey is targeted—that is, it knows the sort of data it wants and asks the right questions. The topics that you cover in your survey have to be ones that are fairly common among your respondents. These will help inform the next step.
2. Create questions — Enter your survey process with the intent of answering specific questions, and you may just find the answers you’re looking for. You can easily take a look at your own sales data to see points of interest among your customers, and tailor your questions based on these. Make sure to keep your survey length reasonable—you are taking up valuable time, after all, and you have to account for short attention spans. Include no more than 10 questions, but also include optional boxes where they can put information not limited by your multiple choice responses.
3. Offer incentives — As mentioned above, you should treat a survey as a favor, not an obligation. Find a way to show your appreciation for your customers’ taking the time and effort to answer your questions. This doesn’t have to cost you much, if anything at all, especially if the incentive is, say, store credit or an exclusive promotion. Plus, it will engender good will as well.
4. Design and set up your survey — The final step is the easy part—you’ve already done all of the hard work. Figure out how and when you’ll distribute your survey. Consider all of the available online clients, many of which have free options that fit the needs of most smaller businesses. Many sites have pop-ups requesting that readers answer surveys, but these are often seen as annoying. As such, most would ignore them. Still, it doesn’t hurt to try different approaches—if no one clicks on the pop-up, try another method. Soon you’ll have the data you need.
Knowing your audience and exactly what they want is crucial if you want your business to grow. You’ve got to anticipate demand and cater to it even before the customer knows that they want it. Creating a survey is the simplest way to understand the behavior of your readers, and we urge that you give it a shot. You’ll thank us later.
Image: SurveySays from Shutterstock