Why marketers can’t live without surveys: 8 survival tactics
Here’s the reality: Today’s marketers need to know how to survey prospects and customers. And they need to know how to do it well. Surveying was once a “nice to have” for marketing teams, and an annual “How are we doing” survey kept everyone happy – customers and execs alike. Now, however, customer feedback initiatives are critical to successful marketing plans, and new strategic (perhaps even scientific) approaches must be applied to succeed at key points along the marketing and sales funnel.
Surveys and other feedback mechanisms (like capturing and responding to social media comments) not only provide insights to enable you to deliver a better customer experience, they allow you to enhance your marketing strategy to design more successful programs and campaigns. You can use online surveys/forms to get product feedback, develop buyer personas, and gather data to build new marketing white papers, studies, and reports.
In combination with behavioral data (e.g. web analytics, campaign performance, etc.), input from prospects and customers allows you to know your market better and continually improve your offerings. What could be more valuable than useful, actionable feedback about your products and company? Seeing with your customers’ eyes can help you tweak messaging for greater resonance, target the ideal leads, and more accurately predict sales pipelines.
Moral of story: you can’t live without surveys in your marketing mix. Here are eight tips to help you make the most of them:
- Start at the end. To drive real business value from your surveys, you need to fi rst think about what results you want – even before you write your fi rst question. Work backward from the information you want, be it messaging feedback, market research, satisfaction levels, etc.
- Think holistically. Communicate specifically. Yes, you’re in the marketing department, but your survey shouldn’t be limited to your own domain. As you create your survey(s), consider company-wide objectives. Speak to department heads about their customer-related concerns and considerations, so that you can collect and act on feedback across the organization. But don’t try to do it all in a single survey!
- Speak their language. Be sure to avoid internal terminology or buzzwords in your survey/form questions. You’ll get better at this the more you do it because as you hear what customers say, you’ll be able to feed that language back to them. For example, if you describe your product as “inexpensive” or “cost-effective,” but your customers keep telling you they want a “cheap” solution, maybe you should consider using that word in your messaging (even if you don’t like it)!
- Reinforce your brand. This is near and dear to marketing professionals, but it’s extremely important that your surveys support your company’s look and feel. If your respondents notice a chink in the armor between the email they received, for example, and the survey they’ve just landed on, they may feel misled or confused.
- Go mobile. In a multi-screen world, your surveys must adapt to different devices without sacrificing look and feel. There were a number of reports released in 2014-2015 confirming that mobile usage has officially surpassed fixed Internet access. So, it’s not a question of “if” – people are accessing your surveys on handheld devices.
- Accept and analyze text. This may feel daunting, but free-form text that’s typed into a survey/web form is among the most valuable information you can gather. You just need to know how to extract it and use it – and there are tools to do this! With the right solution, you can quickly and cost effectively analyze written feedback to determine customer sentiment and gain clearer understanding of drivers behind positive and negative feedback.
- Consider triggers and timing. People are more likely to complete your survey if you deliver it at an opportune moment and within context. For example, a prospect opens your marketing email on Wednesday, clicks through to further information, and then receives a related survey on Thursday. This shows your customer that you care about engaging in meaningful conversation, rather than presenting a monologue. Top survey solutions enable you to automate and personalize responses such as emails or links to landing/web pages, depending on feedback.
- Leverage analytics. This falls into the no-brainer category, but as with the rest of marketing arsenal, you need to report consistently on findings. Again, the good news is that today’s leading survey solutions provide live results and analysis in charts and dashboards that are easy to make sense of and share.