How can online polls and surveys help grow your business?
With so much business conducted online these days, the sphere of internet marketing has become a huge field of endeavor in itself. The internet has given enterprises an unprecedented opportunity to not only build up a detailed picture of its target market – and even individual customers – but also to build interactive relationships with these customers and much more. To this end, there are many tools available, such as social media and email marketing, but when it comes to carrying out wide-ranging and effective customer research, there are few tools more powerful than online surveys.
Online Polls And Surveys Are Cheap and Wide-Ranging
The two major strengths of these lie with their cost effectiveness and wide reach, with business owners able to conduct the sort of market research that used to involve hefty fees to an agency employing mailouts or people hanging around with clipboards on street corners. Nowadays, surveys can be sent to as many email addresses as the enterprise requires, at very little cost. Indeed, when you realize how many online marketing specialists offer businesses a free online survey, it becomes clear that this important data-gathering can be done for a tiny fraction of the cost of old-fashioned phone or paper-based market research.
High Rates Of Response
One of the factors that makes or breaks market research surveys is the incidence rate. This refers to the amount of people surveyed who actually bother to respond. With old-fashioned mailings, people can put them aside and chuck them in the bin, while with phone surveys it is often difficult for respondents to view them as anything other than an annoyance and a distraction from their day.
Online polls and surveys consistently register a far higher incidence rate because recipients can finish them as their own schedule demands and they are easy both to fill in and return.
Methods to Maximize Responses
Companies seeking to harness this high incidence rate – and indeed to maximize it – can also box clever by using its own email contacts and website to generate the list of recipients. Most savvy enterprises already encourage customers to subscribe to newsletters or promotional emails, so the regular or occasional request for customers on this list to undertake a brief online survey fits very neatly into this.
Use The Free Tools Available
When seeking to compose and distribute online polls and surveys, you will naturally want them to be as comprehensive and appealing as possible. The free online survey tools available from professional agencies are a massive help with this, offering such handy resources as templates, writing tips, plus automated software tools concerned with managing lists, optimizing delivery, tracking surveys and their responses and compiling reports on the data harvested.
To ensure that these tools are used to the full, a business needs to be absolutely sure at the start what the aims of the survey are, and how the data that will be gathered can feed into its overall market research program.
The Survey as a Marketing Opportunity
One example of a well-crafted online survey is one that helps to promote a positive image of the company’s products or services. Questions can be written to emphasize their positive aspects, such as asking respondents to rate in order of importance such things as “high quality customer service”, “quality materials” and “fast delivery”. Even as you are discovering customer preferences, you are implanting positive thoughts about your products in a customer’s mind, as well as reminding them anew about aspects of your business you may have forgotten.
Disadvantages – and what to do about them
OK, so far we’ve looked at the superlative advantages of online polls and surveys, but they are not without their weaknesses as well – the good news is that these can be managed and minimized. The major weakness of online polls and surveys is their propensity toward lower reliability than other methods. Statisticians refer to the subject of reliable survey results as panel integrity, which can often be low with online surveys since there is no independent oversight when they are being completed.
To keep panel integrity at its maximum, enterprises can take several steps. These include only distributing surveys to customers already signed up to a mailing list, to allow for the verification of their identity; use survey software to set minimum times for completion (to prevent respondents whizzing through the survey mindlessly ‘ticking boxes’) and to purge the system of surveys which are returned with the same letter or number answer for every question (so-called ‘straight line’ results).
Policing Your Surveys With Online Tools
Software can also be used to monitor the email addresses given for the sending of discount coupons, loyalty points or any other ‘rewards’ for completing the surveys. Cheats can be swiftly identified by the use of the same address given multiple times for ‘different’ respondents. These can be purged from the survey results and the addresses blocked.
Similarly, early questions in the survey asking for respondents’ personal and demographic details can be checked by the software against later answers to identify any inconsistencies caused by respondents using multiple identities.
Finally, at least one question in the survey should take the form of a short ‘essay’ to weed out both those respondents who cannot be bothered to give considered answers and those who are using multiple identities (the latter will not bother to personalize such open-ended answers multiple times).
Analyze and Optimize
So you’ve sent out the survey and you’ve ensured that they are both well-crafted to maximize the incidence rate while also being well-proofed against low panel integrity. You will have a large amount of data to tabulate, organize and analyze. Again, most good free online survey software can do a fantastic job of all three of these tasks – presenting the data in graph and table form, as well as spotting trends and other patterns.
What do you feel are the benefits of polls and surveys?
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