We live in an ever-evolving world with multiple markets and industries all within a global reach. With each passing day, more and more businesses are vying for the same target audiences. To reach the right target audience, you need to conduct the proper market research to determine how you can market your goods or services. Data collection allows you to reach your desired consumers to ensure that you generate leads and convert those leads into paying customers or clients.

In a general sense, audience research provides the insight you need to validate your existence as a business and your niche-where you fit in and how you fit in. With the advent of social media in recent years, surveys and polls are easier to produce and execute. Through various social media channels, businesses can reap the benefits of integrated business tools directly from their followers, leads, and untouched audiences. When appropriately executed, surveys and polls allow companies to gather information surrounding the data and analytics that their product, services, or specific business need.

How Surveys and Polls Work

Surveys and polls produce an analysis of responses, delivering real-time data and feedback directly from your followers, customers, and clients. This feedback can then become a call to action to scale your reach. Survey Monkey, Qualtrics, and Google forms offer clear information on the science behind surveys.

Surveys provide real numbers and data

Surveys can provide hard numbers on your target audience’s opinions and behaviors that can be used to inform critical decision making.

Surveys provide essential benchmarks

Surveys can be utilized to make individual decisions—from hosting a webinar with a particular speaker or running a specific advertising campaign.

Surveys uncover the “Why”

Data is a crucial component of marketing. Social media tools embedded into platforms make data easily accessible. Why are consumers thinking a certain way? How do they feel about your product? How can you meet their needs better?

Surveys give a voice

Survey Monkey suggests that the importance of surveys is perhaps best outlined by a book that is not about surveys. In Princeton Economist Albert Hirschman’s book, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, Hirschman examines the way people react to a company that is performing poorly. People can either “exit” and take their business somewhere else or “voice” their concerns and help the company incite positive changes. “How loyal people are to a cause or a company affects whether they choose to vote with their feet and exit or voice their opinions and speak up.”
Hirschman discusses how people and businesses rely too often on exit to identify an issue. For example, do we have fewer customers now than we did this past quarter? Unfortunately, by the time you look at this data, it might be too late.

Companies and organizations succeed when they come from the perspective of encouraging voice rather than exit. Engaging with your customers through surveys and polls to voice their concerns fosters communication and helps offset the chance that these customers will make an exit and choose another product or service over yours.

Surveys and polls gather direct, real data, benchmarks, uncovering the why and giving a voice to your consumers.

When You Are First Starting A Business

Whether you are getting ready to launch a product or service for the first time, or you’re a seasoned business owner, you might not be looking to gauge customer satisfaction because you have yet to generate customers or clients. According to Forbes, “When you’re building a business plan, market research needs to happen pretty early in the process. It’s where you learn about your audience’s wants and needs and the financial trends in your industry and where you combine the data and uncover trends that tell you what customers want and how to provide it most effectively.”

Their article lists these important considerations that every business owner or marketer launching a new business should keep in mind when designing their survey or poll:

  1. Demand: Do consumers want what you’re offering?
  2. Economic Indicators: Do they have the money to buy your product/service?
  3. Pricing: How much will they pay for your product/service?
  4. Location: Where do they live, and where are they likely to make their purchases?

How Can You Develop Reliable Customer Surveys?

Forbes outlines some of these crucial steps below:

1.)  Personalize Response Requests give your audience an opportunity for anecdotal responses. Research has shown that personalization of emailed survey invitations can increase response rates by 7% or more

2.) Ask Your Most Valuable Questions First, or better yet, ask one question. If you can grab and maintain your audience’s attention even with one question, you have struck gold. You will most likely lose their engagement shortly after that.

3.) Try to Identify Real Problems. With a question like, “What are we doing wrong?” you are communicating transparency and that you genuinely care and want to meet your customers’ needs.

4.) Make It Easy to Give Your Feedback. Make it user friendly, timely, and offer an incentive.

5.) Show Them The Money. Comedian Michael Ian Black said, “When you ask me to complete a customer survey, your customer service just went way down.” Moving your request to the top and combatting this familiar, shared feeling, provides a relevant incentive. It doesn’t need to be costly. Maybe a chance to win a $50 gift card or a valued-added insight in their field, access to an asset that might have cost them otherwise, or a credit toward a future purchase of your product or service.

Why Surveys and Polls Work

Surveys and polls work because they allow you to take the information you have received and guide your business decisions. You are addressing potential customers that fit your target audience. For instance, a user’s geographic region should align with where you sell your products or offer your services. For example, their age group is within the age range of people who would be interested in what you have to offer.

Surveys are a necessary marketing tool that can result in increased assets. They are simple to create and easy to distribute through social media platforms. They can provide you with a clear window into what your potential customers or clients are thinking, how they feel and what they want and/or need. Use this vital information to adapt your services and embrace what your customers or clients want to enable your business to succeed. Optimize your decision-making process, streamline your customer communications, and improve how you deliver your product or services. You can become an industry leader in your market by understanding your customers’ needs.

How You Can Make Surveys and Polls Work For You

For many businesses, particularly small businesses, marketing might be in-house and lead by a single person who is multi-tasking a bevy of other tasks and deadlines. Many companies do not employ a marketing team that can conduct outreach, market research, and design cutting-edge marketing materials with fool-proof strategies that allow you to engage leads before your competition.

For many businesses, marketing means focusing on social media. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube offer built-in data analysis, survey, and polling tools to quantify this information free of charge for you so that you can optimize your business without investing in a marketing team.

Instagram makes it easy to connect with your followers. Small businesses often have a small and local following of people within their immediate community. Perhaps a sizable group of those who live outside of it may travel to shop with a business or order online. This is important to consider because it means that these businesses can engage directly with their intended clients. More than likely, the people who follow them on Instagram are people who are interested in what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

Facebook and LinkedIn’s built-in analysis tools give you a quick and straightforward view of your solicited responses. Still, often third-party vendors offer more detailed insights that you need for targeting audiences in marketing campaigns. Using easy to read graphs and charts, you can access your customers’ needs with comprehensive, reliable data. Beyond social media, there is a wealth of online survey applications that you can use to deliver to your audience conveniently. You can create a survey or a poll using Survey Monkey or Qualtrics, for example, and then send it out to your email list.

In Summary

Surveys and polls are integral to modern business – they provide us with critical insight that we can use to grow our businesses, optimize our services and products, and understand our unique market needs better. They also help us target current and new audiences to understand consumer sentiment and attitudes. For the most part, surveys are easy to use and analyze, ultimately allowing us to leverage the data and information we collect to fuel our business growth.

At Storylift, we understand that market research is critical for most businesses. To remain a leader in EDU enrollment and recruitment technology, we conduct a considerable amount of audience research to allow us to zero in on high probability candidate segments. While this research does not focus on personally identifiable information, the results will enable us to understand the key characteristics of high probability target audiences for our clients.

Start a survey of your own – whether you are a new startup or an established business – using one of the methods mentioned in this article. Once you have completed your first round of responses and analysis, come back and let us know in the comments below what your experience was like and how your survey performed.

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