Data is one of the most important tools a business can have to fulfill its goals. It informs us about our audience, gives insight into how our efforts are being received, and most importantly, can help us to take the right next step.

One great way to collect this crucial data is with a survey.

So here’s the moment where I put my hands up and say that recently, we ran a survey and in all honestly, it didn’t go too well. Whilst it got some great responses there just weren’t enough of them, and if there’s one thing data needs to be applicable, it’s a volume which is statistically viable.

But why am I telling you this?

Well, at the same time we ran a survey for one of our clients as part of their content strategy and that was a completely different story. There was a high level of quality answers from credible respondents and not only did it result in a great report, it also opened up a number of opportunities. Data and leads—win win!

Seeing the stark difference between the two surveys prompted us to spend some time assessing what had been done differently, and why our survey may not have gone so well. An important part of an inbound marketing strategy is analysing, learning and making changes that will lead to better results, so that's what we've done. I've spoken before about how failure is your best chance at eventual success, and this is no different.

Let's take a look at the three steps you really need to be doing to create a successful survey...


1. Start with the end result


If you think dashing out a few questions and waiting for the results to come rolling in is going to cut it, then you really need to think again. Spend some time considering your goals for the survey including what you ultimately want to find out, and remember to make them SMART.

Are you asking the right questions for your overall goal? By focusing on this you’ll be able to cut out any unnecessary questions and have a strong level of consistency throughout which will make it easier for your respondents.

3 Crucial Steps to a Successful Survey

HubSpot wrote a great post which looks in more depth at structural mistakes you should avoid with a survey here.

You’ll see the benefits if you put in the effort to get those questions right. Being too vague can lead to results which don’t have enough substance and won’t help you with your goals. Make sure you keep them unbiased and avoid misleading questions, too. Getting a few people to take the survey and give feedback is a great way to iron out any problems.


2. Keep it clear and relevant


Your request for responses needs to make it clear why you’re asking in the first place. This is actually one of the areas we slipped up on. Our client’s survey was sent to high level decision makers in one specific sector with a clear aim of finding out their requirements and pain points for an upcoming busy period and as a result respondents understood the context, and felt it was relevant to them.

On the flip side, our request was marketing-focused but went out to a mixed audience including business and sales leaders. The reason it didn’t work so well was that we didn’t make it clear that we were looking at how marketing impacts overall business growth and sales, so needed responses across the board. Some of the context was missing, and as a result many of those it was sent to probably felt it wasn’t relevant.

You're asking them to take time out of their day, so help them to understand why. Don't assume that your intent will be clear.


3. Make sure there's frequent exposure


We humans are an impressionable lot, and we often have to see something multiple times before we feel the need to act. We made sure that we promoted our survey across multiple channels, both to our email database and on social media with specific LinkedIn targeting.

The problem was, there was little overlap between the two. Whilst we promoted our clients survey in the same way, there was much more of an overlap and so each contact was more likely to see the survey invite multiple times, in different environments.

So there you have it...


You can keep it short, let your audience know how long it will take and even offer a prize draw to those who complete it, but ultimately the success of your survey is going to lie in good planning.

For more tips and tricks on making the most out of your data, click the button below.

Make Use of Data

Image source: Ed Escueta

Topics: Inbound Marketing

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About the Author

Inbound enthusiast helping businesses stand out from the crowd and engage both their customers and prospects.

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