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Survey Says: 5 Tips to Discover What They Really Want

Every time I get to the front of the grocery line, I’m asked if I “found everything OK.” And every time, I say “yes.” Not because I did; I rarely find everything on my list the first time (I like cooking). But I answer this way because I know the person on the other side of the counter rarely cares. I did ask about an item I couldn’t find once, but after waiting 10 minutes for a manager, 10 more for them to check with a distributor, etc., etc. that mustard didn’t seem so important.

That happens with surveys, too. Companies ask questions, customers take the time to tell them what they’re thinking, and then nothing comes of it. They give up and go somewhere else. But surveys can work; you just have to be prepared to listen — and then do something about it. Here are a few tips:

5 Tips to Discover What Prospects Want

  • Know the point you’re trying to make. If you’re going to take on the expense, you need to know what you’re trying to validate. Is it that your publication or content makes a difference in customers’ buying patterns and brand loyalty? If so, ask pointed questions around that. Or are you trying to find out what would increase their loyalty and purchase — or both? Come up with three main items you want to gain from the answers and structure your questions around them. If you make it too broad or ask too many questions, you’re going to have a low response rate.
  • Get to the point quickly. People don’t want to spend a ton of time, especially if it’s an online survey. If they agree to give you that time, then don’t abuse it. Surveys should take no longer than five minutes. Don’t ask questions that you don’t absolutely need to know the answer to.
  • Pick a fitting format. Phone surveys are a thing of the past. Who has a landline anymore? I don’t know anyone who doesn’t hang up on survey callers. They take too long and seem so invasive. I usually recommend an online format for large surveys and focus groups when you want to see results quickly or want to explore multiple topics. If you don’t know a lot about the subject, focus groups can be a great way to help you define your most important issues and develop questions for a quantitative survey to be sent out later. Online surveys can be taken at your target audiences’ leisure, which makes it less intrusive and more convenient. But remember, that audience can leave you quickly, so it’s important to focus only on what you really need to know.
  • Presentation is everything. Don’t just share the survey’s raw data; put some analysis behind your presentation. Data can be extremely useful when analyzed and strategically presented. And make sure you’re also offering information on how the program or product can be modified and improved.
  • Be ready to do something about it. If you’re going to take the time to poll your audience — and they know you’re asking, since you asked them — make it count. If they say they want less contact, like emails sent per week, give them that. If they want more of a certain type of content, like blog posts on your grandmother’s recipes, give them that.

Surveys can give you access to a goldmine of information and help you get the information you need to turn your content into results. Learn more about that here.