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  • How to use Online Surveys for your Marketing

How to use Online Surveys for your Marketing

  • Last Updated : September 12, 2023
  • 10 Min Read
Online surveys

Imagine you are sitting in a room, and all your audience visits you one by one to share their experience about your brand or give you ideas for your next marketing campaigns.

Wouldn't that be amazing? Your marketing work gets easier if you know exactly what your audience wants.

It's simple. You just have to listen to them. "Amazing things will happen when you listen to the customer," says Jonathan Mildenhall (one of the world's most influential CMOs according to Forbes).

Back to reality, people don't always give feedback or suggest ideas unless we ask them. The easiest way to ask your audience and listen to their feedback is through online surveys.

Online surveys are a simple way to collect data from your target audience by asking them to respond to a set of questions shared on social channels, via email, on your website, or via any other online medium.

Surveys are not restricted to gathering data. They can also help you improve your marketing efforts, by letting you understand what your audience expects from your business, whether they like your emails, how much the content pieces you post help them, and any other opinions they have about your product, brand, and marketing.

A field experiment with over 2000 customers conducted by Harvard Business Review (HBR) reveals that customers are three times more likely to buy from a brand if they are surveyed and asked for their feedback. The best part is these customers purchased from the brand without any direct marketing.

The simple psychology behind this is that customers feel better if brands listen to them. In this article, let's look at a few ways online surveys can be used to sharpen your marketing and some of the best practices for conducting online surveys.


Improve your content marketing with surveys

According to the content marketing institute, 64% of B2B small business marketers frequently use website traffic to measure content marketing success and 54% of other marketers use sales lead qualities. These are not bad metrics, but there are several other factors to consider for content marketing success.

Factors like behavior data—number of viewers, average time spent on the page, and bounce rate—can be measured using an analytics tool. But there are also more subjective factors that are harder to understand. Is the topic relevant to your audience, do the audience find the content easy to read, do content pieces inspire the readers to check out the product?

This is where surveys can help. You can embed feedback survey forms at the end of your articles and encourage your readers to participate. Ask questions to understand the quality, readability, and usability of your content pieces and shape your content based on readers' feedback.

Make sure you ask the right, meaningful questions to get insights from readers that cannot be measured in analytics tools. This allows you to ask fewer questions and saves your readers time.

Plan your content and execute your content marketing strategy based on your readers' feedback. This should increase your success as you deliver the content that readers are actually looking for.


Delivering a personalized experience to your customers

Your customers' personal details like their birthdays and shopping habits are worth their weight in gold for your business as they help you deliver a personalized experience to each customer on your list.

Let's say you run a travel company. Mary is one of your customers and her birthday is coming up soon. Her favorite destination is Paris.

When you know these facts, you can delight Mary by sending her an email with a 20% discount on flights to Paris on her birthday.

This shows that you care about your customers and their personal preferences. Online surveys are the easiest and most effective way to collect and process this type of data. If you have a big list of subscribers, but you're missing some of their details, use online surveys to collect the information and surprise them with personal offers.

According to Forbes, 91% of customers are more likely to purchase from brands that offer personalized offers and recommendations, so understanding your audience better may boost your sales.

Improve your email marketing with surveys


Before sending a campaign

Email campaigns play a vital role in online marketing. But not all email campaigns are successful, and the main reason a campaign will flop is if the audience isn't interested in what it has to say.

Overcoming this is simple; just ask your audience what they want to read about, and then give them what they ask for. Online surveys are the best method to identify good campaign ideas based on your audience's preferences.

You can pick a small group of your active subscribers rather than asking all of them to participate. Ask them for ideas for your next campaign in an online survey. The best practice is to give your audience some options to choose from, which is easier for them than having to come up with ideas from scratch.

Go with the option that got the most votes. Since the topic of the campaign was decided by your audience, it's much less likely to fail.


After sending a campaign

Measuring post-campaign success can be helpful to evaluate your execution rate and check whether all your audience's expectations were met. If your campaign met or exceeded your expectations, identify the success factors.

Ask clear, specific questions like what component of the campaign the audience liked the most (the subject line, first paragraph, or last paragraph), and what made them take action. The element that receives the most votes is a recipe for success and you can use the same strategy for your future campaigns.

For example, if a subject line with your audience's first name has a higher opening rate, then you can use the same idea for all your other campaigns. And conversely, if your opening rates are low or your subscribers aren't following the CTAs in your emails, survey them to find out what is stopping them.


For newsletters

You have amazing blogs on your website and, impressed by the content, one of your readers signs up for your weekly newsletter. Like most brands, you send a welcome email to your new subscribers.

Along with your welcome email, you can ask your audience to choose their content preferences for newsletters through online surveys. For example, you run a fitness company and you send a weekly newsletter on topics including home workout tips, diet plans, and gym workout tips.

Some of your readers may want to read all your tips, while others may only want to know about your diet plans. Thanks to online surveys, you can ask your readers to participate in a quick survey, allowing you to learn their preferences, so you can send them only the content they actually want to read.


Generate leads with online surveys

Online surveys can be a great source for generating marketing qualified leads (MQL). Let's say your company sells medical insurance. You can use online surveys in the following ways for lead generation.

Social media: Not all of your social media followers may be on your marketing list. But they are potential customers as they are following your brand. You can create an online survey asking participants what their expectations are of insurance providers and share it on your social channels. Offer incentives and encourage all your followers to participate in the survey.

One example of an incentive is sending your participant an ebook with tips for choosing the right insurance plan. At the end of the survey, collect your participants' details: name, email address, and phone number. Add your followers to your marketing list and nurture them with high-quality emails to transform them from followers to customers.

You can use unified marketing platforms like Zoho Marketing Plus to create online surveys and share them on your social channels to gather audience details and nurture them with high-quality emails. You do not need to use separate tools for each function as all the marketing tools are available in a single platform. And what's more, all the tools in Marketing Plus are connected, so you do not need to manually transfer any data between the tools.

Referral: Referral marketing can be very powerful. Your happy customers are the best marketers and can be a great asset for lead generation. Create a special online survey for referral and ask your customers to share it with their friends and families. Reward customers who share your online surveys as well as the participants. One idea for a referral survey might be to ask participants if they are happy with their existing insurance provider since they are not already your customers. Make sure you collect their contact details at the end of the survey.

Although your end goal is to acquire customers, the primary motive of a referral survey should be to understand the participants, and the incentives you provide should give them real value.


Validate product ideas with online surveys

According to Harvard Business School, each year, more than 30,000 new products are launched and 95% of them fail. One of the reasons for failure is the lack of product demand in the market. Validating your product ideas with real potential customers to help you create a minimum viable product (MVP) that can be a lifesaver. An MVP is a test product with minimal features which is shared with limited users. Based on the users' feedback, more features may be added before the product is launched in the market. This will help you hit the ground running with marketing, as you know exactly what your audience wants and the value your product delivers.

Before building any product, it's always best practice to survey the target audience and find out whether the market needs it. For example, if you are going to build a mobile application for ordering male cosmetics, you can create online surveys and target men of age 22 to 50 years to participate in it.

You can include questions to figure out the demand for male cosmetics in the market, the price participants are willing to pay, and their expectations from a retail app. You can share the survey in social channels, groups, and forums where men are active.

If you get positive responses for your idea from the online survey, build an MVP and survey the users again to see what they think of the product. If the responses were more negative, go back to the drawing board rather than spend time and money building a product that people don't want.

The initial survey validates the idea and the next step is to validate the product itself. Once you build your MVP, you can share the product with the same participants to test it and get feedback on features, usability, and overall product experience through online survey. Build your final product based on users' feedback and you are good to go.

Online surveys are the best option to validate your ideas and MVP as they allow you to categorize and visualize all the feedback instantly, saving you a lot of time, so that you can focus on building better products. You can take the insights you gained from each round of surveys and feed them directly into your product launch marketing, spotlighting the features your audience love and showing how your product meets their real-world needs.


Best practices for creating online surveys


  • Always offer a reward for participation, if possible. Online surveys related to marketing have a response rate of between 10 and 30%. One of the factors that can help motivate people to participate is what is in it for them. So, next time, consider offering a free trial of a sample of a product or a free one-on-one consultation for completing your survey.

  • Don't ask too many questions. Studies show that asking more than ten questions causes survey fatigue or survey abandonment. Keep your questions short and relevant to your objectives.

  • Closed questions, yes or no type questions or questions with a list of options to choose from, tend to work better for surveys. This prevents your audience from having to spend a lot of time typing out their answers and helps you to categorize feedback easily as there are limited sets of possible responses. This can help you gain accurate insights for better decisions.

  • Maintain a consistent brand theme that includes your logo, color, fonts, and keywords. This reassures your audience that they are on the right page and not on a phishing site.

  • Dynamic surveys are powerful. This is a method of showing relevant follow-up questions based on the answer to a previous question. This method works well for surveys with closed questions.

For example, a food delivery company creates an online survey to find out their customers' food preferences. One of their survey questions is about the customers' dietary preferences. There are three options to choose from: vegan, vegetarian, and meat-eater. If a participant chooses vegan, then the next question will be "Which of the following plant-based milk do you prefer?" with the options almond, soy, and coconut. Dynamic surveys allow you to ask relevant questions like this based on your audience's choices. This encourages respondents to participate through to the end of the survey as the questions are relevant to them.

Unified marketing platforms like Zoho Marketing Plus have tools to create dynamic surveys and measure the results with powerful analytics for stepping up your marketing game.

Users can also use Zoho Marketing Plus for creating and managing content, engaging with their audiences on different social channels, running email campaigns, and measuring all their marketing activities in one place, without needing any external tools.

All the tools in Zoho Marketing Plus talk to each other, so you can focus on talking to your audience.

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  • Bala

    Bala is a product Marketer for Zoho Marketing Plus. He is passionate about discussing MarTech, Customer Experience, Omnichannel Marketing, and Marketing Analytics.
    You can start a conversation with Bala by leaving a comment on any of his blog posts. 

    Bonus information - Bala likes cats, coffee, and G-shock watches :)

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