How To Write A Good Survey

I recently had the opportunity to look over the results of a participant survey for a organization that put on a week long conference.  While I did not write the survey, I was analyzing the data to help them out for next years conference.  While I was looking at the results, I remembered that there were some good rules of thumb to remember when writing a survey to get better responses and response rates.

survey example

Here are some easy one to think about when developing your survey.
  • Purpose of survey: Before you start, you need to identify the purpose and what are the “key learnings” you want to know. List them out. The questions you will ask for a market depth survey is very different than a customer satisfaction survey. Be sure to include demographics to make sure you get your buyer profile.
  • Execution of survey: How the survey is going to be executed is just as important as the survey itself. Included in this is the list you are sending the survey. Mail surveys versus email surveys have different Expected response rates. A cold list versus an online panel versus a customer list will get varying responses.
  • Length & Complexity: This needs to be considered in conjunction with who you are sending the survey to. Customers are more likely to answer longer and more complex surveys. Those with no connection to your company, are not as likely to answer that same survey. Also, you need to consider any type of incentive to promote your response rate. The longer and more complex, the better the incentive.
  • Question bias: This is something even seasoned survey writers fall in to. I remember a marketing class I had that had a handout showing questions from statistically accurate surveys. On the surveys, there were essentially the same question, but with dramatically different results because of the wording of the questions.
  • Ratings vs Rankings: Ask five different market researchers the scale system they like, and you will likely get six different answers. Odd scale versus even scale. Five-point versus seven-point. Six-point versus ten-point. These are all things to consider. The more points the more finite between the values. Odd scales have a mid-point, when even scales force someone to be either positive or negative. Asking rankings are generally not a good idea. This is because of two main reasons. You cannot synthesize these answers across respondents. My difference between #1 and #2 is likely different than your difference between #1 and #2. Also, my difference between #1 and #2 could be different between #11 and #12.
  • Open-Ended Questions: When filled out on surveys, these are great. However, it is only when they are filled out. A lot of people tend to skip these questions. Be sure to limit them and use them as only as needed. Also, be sure to use some form of text analytics if you have a larger group of respondents.

Surveys can help shape strategy and answer pressing operational and product questions. However, be sure to make sure that the survey serves your needs based on posing good questions.

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.
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What I Learned At AnalyticsCamp NC 2012

AnalyticsCampI had the fortunate experience last weekend to attend AnalyticsCamp 2012.  Now I can hear you saying, “What the heck is that and why should I care?”

[If you are starting to wonder what analytics is, here is something I pulled from Wikipedia.  It is described there as it is the application of computer technology, operational research, and statistics to solve problems in business and industry. Analytics has evolved with the application of computers to the analysis of data and this takes place within an information system or software environment.]

Here is what their website states it is:

AnalyticsCamp is the unconference for analytics. Whatever flavor of analytics you work with—web, email, social media, marketing, big enterprise BI, you name it—this is the place to meet and learn from interesting people in the field.

It’s a Barcamp-style unconference, and anyone can pitch a session. Sessions include technical, business and career topics, from beginner to advanced levels, so everyone is sure to learn something.

Now the why you should care is even better.  Because I learned some cool new stuff and I get to share it with you.

analyticsIn the first session I went to, I saw Martin Smith, Director of Marketing at Atlantic BT, discussing branding keywords into your online presence.  The discussion involved a number of topics including taking a logical approach to developing your website in relation to data analytics.  You just cannot look at the data.  Also don’t just market to only demographic and psychographics. You need to understand the pains & personas of your audience.  Lastly, Google Analytics likes “more & more, better & better, faster & faster”.

For the second session, Dean Peters of McClatchy Interactive discussed “Google Analytics API to create a Most Popular Pages Widget”.  There were a number of takeaways, especially if you are into code writing.  My biggest takeaway, is that the “Most Popular Stories” that many like on news oriented websites can be easily done on WordPress sites, which is the basis of about 15% of all the world’s websites.

In Ask a “Social Media Analyst”, Vimal Patel, of Argyle Social, and Ryan Sweeney, of Ignite Social Media, had a great discussion of analytics with Facebook business pages and the Argyle Social Platform.

The last session I went to was an excellent open group discussion on “Comparing Web Analytics Tools”.  There was a lot of discussion between paper.li versus scoop.it for curation sites.  Another topic was the use of HootSuite, TweetDeck and Argyle for managing and analyzing multiple social platforms.

In conclusion, it was a Saturday full of coffee, networking, and analytics.  There was a lot of information that I absorbed.  There was a lot more that I know I missed because of the sessions I missed.  I would highly recommend the event next year and I am excited about how I can use analytics on a regular basis.

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

How To Use Market Research To Improve Your Marketing

so what's all this new marketing stuffEverybody wants to improve their marketing efforts. Improved marketing and promotion leads to more customers and better retention of your current customers.

However, many businesses spend thousands of dollars every year on a variety of marketing tactics without a lot of success. This is mainly due to the lack of understanding how to marketing and advertising in an effective way. If these businesses a little research before they develop their marketing, their messaging would be more effective. Although each business is unique, a few basic market research strategies can help. Here are two:

Determine a concise target market

Before you start any business or marketing campaign, you need to learn about who is the intended target for the business or marketing campaign. This can be done through either primary or secondary research. Before launching a new product, service, or campaign, you need to know:

  1. Who wants or needs the product or service I am selling?
  2. How many potential consumers are out there?
  3. Where are my potential customers located?
  4. How much are my potential customers willing to spend?
  5. Why will they buy my product or service?

By identifying your target market, you will be able to evaluate the viability of your business, increase its visibility, and make the necessary changes to increase sales. By developing a target market you are less likely to waste your advertising dollars on promoting to the wrong group of customers.

Develop a database

It is surprising to me the number of businesses, large or small, that do not have and maintain a database. By developing and maintaining a database, a company can get a full understanding of their customers’ profile. By using your customer data more effectively, new products can be developed more efficiently and a more cost effective direct marketing campaign can be achieved.

Many businesses do not truly conduct market research. They probably see it as too difficult, too expensive, or not a perceived value. However, the value of doing it ahead of time can prevent a considerable waste of money on products and services that potential customers may not want and marketing campaigns that they may not respond to.

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

Why you should do market research before you start your business.

I grow my business through networking. It is a requirement for me to be successful as there is not a lot of people Google-ing “market research Raleigh” in a given month (I’ve checked it and it’s only about 150 per month).

During the networking opportunities with those with complementary businesses, I get often get the question of “What is your ideal client?” I typically smile at this because, unfortunately in my mind, they are not out there. However, I did meet one last week. My ideal client is someone wanting to start a new business and wanting to do it right. “Right” is doing research immediately after concept but before doing anything else. The below is a great representation.

Concept Implementation Model
Many new business owners and entrepreneurs do not do any market research. They are tacticians. In other words, they are good at what they do, whether it is running a restaurant, building homes, or developing the latest tech widget.

The idea of doing market research at the beginning of the process can help confirm or refocus

  • You beliefs about your concept
  • Your intended target market
  • Your marketing/advertising program

Have you ever done market research before you started an idea or business? If you did not and did some afterwards, did you wish you had?

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

Using Customer Data in Market Research

Birds of a Feather“There are a lot of companies that have data, but not information.” 

I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end of that quote at an event during Triangle Entrepreneurship Week in Raleigh and Durham, NC a few weeks ago, where I met a great group of entrepreneurs and small business owners.  The unfortunate aspect of this quote is that it is very accurate.

Being able to utilize data from customers is of the upmost importance when trying to find more of them.  “Birds of a feather flock together.”  Well, this is true in regards to customers.  Similar customers buy similar stuff.  By understanding who your customer is, where they are, and (most importantly) why they buy, you can use that information to attract more  customers just like the ones you already have. 

Today’s market is much more complex and less receptive to media and advertising messages.  However, by narrowing the target of your customer, you can send targeted advertising specifically to them.

How does your marketing process gather intelligent information on your core customer’s needs?  And how do you use this information to target other potential customers?

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their customers though a variety of market research strategies.  He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes.  He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research.  He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“.  If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your customers, email him at jnolfo@rhinomarketresearch.com.

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