B2B Marketing Blog

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Written by The Mezzanine Group
on June 20, 2011

Have you ever wondered what your clients think about you, your product, your service, and your interactions? Well – chances are you may have thought about creating a survey. In principle it’s a simple concept. In practice though, it’s a bit tougher than that.

Creating a survey is both an art and a skill. Before you begin, it’s key to understand your objectives and your target audience. Only once you solidify those two pieces can you consider developing the questions. Some key learnings from a recent experience include the following:

  • Keep the survey as simple and short as possible
    • i.e.: Ask only what you have to!
  • Be clear. Be concise.
    • Avoid ambiguous or complicated language.
  • Ensure that questions have an exhaustive list of answers
    • But this does not mean a lot of answer options – you just never want to leave anyone hanging without their answer.
  • Working on the questions, keep in mind your hypotheses for the answers.
    • Will the answer to the question give you reason to prove or disprove your hypothesis?
  • Ensure you collect the right segmentation information (e.g.demographics)
    • But leave it to the end: the important questions should be asked up front in case anyone abandons your survey.
  • Stay away from free form input fields – these are much harder to analyse.
    • Sometimes they are necessary but keep these to a minimum.

From an operational perspective, here are some technical tips to keep in mind while you are building your survey:

  • Some companies only collect survey answers and deliver data summaries, others go as far as delivering insights and creating presentations.
    • Decide how far you want them to go and what you are willing to pay for.
    • Ask for sample output to understand what insights they can provide and what sort of statistical analysis is possible.
  • Question format is more important to a survey company than the questions themselves as they require programming.
    • The client needs to decide on a format, the text can always be changed last minute.
  • Even though you might think your survey is 10 questions – to the survey company this may be a lot more.
    • Always show the survey company what your survey might look like ahead of time – important information may get lost in translation and terminology if they do not physically see it – and you may end up footing a larger bill.
    • Keep the communications open. The survey companies have great experience – they have seen many surveys both good and bad and they certainly have insights that might be beneficial to you.
  • Think of an effective communications plan – you may have created the best survey but if no one opens it you may have wasted your time.
    • Have a follow up reminder(s) ready.
    • Generate interest through company ambassadors (e.g.:all speaking engagements and casual conversations)
    • Consider a grass roots approach (e.g.:follow up calls, mention in conversation or public engagements)
    • Consider adding links to survey information in ambassador signatures and other collateral visible to the target audience.

Have you done any surveys in the past? Do you have any key learnings you’d like to share?

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