Survey Your Site Visitors!

Author: Brent Niland

The Internet is changing the face of marketing research. Time was when research involved among other things, printing and mailing surveys, data entry, and long distance telephone calls. Because of the time, effort, and expense involved, surveys were done infrequently or not at all. Without valuable information collected from surveys, marketing opportunities and client feedback were often missed. The Internet is changing all of that.

Online surveys provide a fast, efficient, and flexible way to learn more about your customers and prospects. The speed of response and the flexibility of online surveys can provide an organization with critical information quickly. A product concept developed in the morning can be tested and results received the next day! Strategic decisions can be made in a fraction of the time.

Online surveys can take different forms. Below are examples:

  • General Website Survey - This survey is placed on a website and is open for all site visitors to take. Because the survey is open to all, the sampling cannot be controlled or considered a statistically valid poll. However, general website surveys can be significant for two reasons: oWhile not scientific, the information collected can provide an organization with valuable information. For example, a professional baseball team asked the following question on their website, "What item would you most like to see offered at the concession stands next season?" Following this question, several food items were listed. The number one response was, cheese curds(of all things!). Although this cannot be considered the definitive answer to proceed with cheese curds next year it does give the team reason to test market the product next season. Without this information, the team would have missed a potential opportunity to provide their fans with the food they desire and additional revenue from concession sales. oWebsite surveys can also increase repeat visits to the website. A well done, fun survey that changes frequently can provide the motivation for site visitors to return to the website repeatedly. It is also important to provide the respondent with the real time results of the survey once they have submitted their responses. This provides the satisfaction of seeing how their responses stack up with other respondents.
  • Market Research Survey - The market research survey involves developing a survey for a targeted population. If you are a diaper manufacturer you may want to purchase a list of women between 20 and 35 with children under 3 years old in the home, for example. The difference between purchasing a list for a standard survey and a list for an online survey is that you are buying their e-mail addresses rather than their home address or phone number. A market research survey involves the following steps:
    • The development of a survey in a password-protected area of your website.
    • Purchase of an opt-in e-mail respondent list. (Opt-in lists are available from companies like Survey Sampling, Inc.) Make sure sample size is proportionally related to the size of the population you are targeting.
    • Send broadcast e-mails to members of the list. The e-mail will instruct recipients to click on the link to take them to the password-protected survey. An incentive will help boost the response rate.
    • Upon completion of the survey, the database of answers can be queried to pull information based on selected variables. The data can also be exported to a statistical software application for further analysis.
    • Upon completion of the survey, a new survey can be developed using the online administrative screens provided by high-end survey developers and the process starts over again.

The advantages of the online market research survey are numerous. From the development time to the delivery of results, these surveys present distinct advantages over traditional research methodologies.

Online surveys can also be designed to appear in a pop-up box at specified locations on a website. Such surveys will ask the visitor if they have a few seconds to take the survey and then proceed to ask them a few questions about their site experience to that point. By asking a series of questions the company can ascertain if the site is well received by the visitor. If not, the survey should provide specific clues to improve your site.

To summarize, online surveys offer the following benefits over standard surveys:

  • Speed of set up - using web-based administrative screens, online surveys can be set up and delivered quickly.
  • Data entry - Respondents do the data entry, so no data entry staff is required. Additionally, accuracy is greatly improved since no data is being rekeyed.
  • New designs and concepts can be presented online. Respondents can view new products, packaging and other offerings online while they are responding to the survey. Standard surveys required mailing package concepts to the respondent in advance. The costs associated with printing, postage and data entry, combined with the time inefficiencies, make online surveys far superior in most instances.
  • Results are tabulated quickly for fast analysis.
  • Early results are showing better response rates. One company that has typically surveyed their employees in the past by traditional means has seen a response rate improvement from 25 to 50% since moving their surveys online.

The opportunities to learn from your customers using the Internet are enormous. By surveying your customers, prospects, and employees online you can uncover opportunities and address issues faster, more accurately and at greatly reduced expense.

About the author:
Brent Niland Spindustry Systems, Inc. ph. 515-225-0920