Should You Be Using Surveys?

by: Kathleen Martin

Surveys get a bad rap. Mention a survey and people are transported back to days of terminally dull 8,000 question surveys administered by telemarketers who somehow always managed to call right in the middle of dinner. But surveys today can be as simple as checking boxes online. Does that mean it's a tool your company should be using?

Surveys are used for a variety of reasons; from product development to creating new services to learning how best to sell those shiny new products or services. Creating and administering surveys—to support or enhance other market research—can be a useful way to gather information that may help your business.

Below we've outlined a few things to keep in mind to get the most out of focus groups and surveys:

To get started, figure out whom to survey. By doing your homework beforehand, you’ll be able to pinpoint your target segments, whether that means new moms or recent retirees.

Once you know WHO to survey, you can figure out HOW. Focus groups can provide insight into attitudes or help solve a problem that’s in-depth enough that multiple choice questions would only scratch the surface. Surveys can gather information about a topic you already have a decent amount of information about. For instance, you’ve created a product and are working to focus marketing messaging around attributes of the product your target market values most. Insight gained from focus groups can also be used to help identify the questions to posit in your questionnaire surveys.

Make sure you choose a goal. Sure, a focus group can feel like an open ended endeavor, but choosing a goal for the outcome prior to the event will help guide the group to ensure you get the most out of your time together.

Forming questionnaires is an important part of the survey process. This is why conducting research beforehand (like a focus group!) is so crucial. You don’t want to end up with a bunch of “nice to know” questions that, while (you guessed it!) are nice to know, won’t actually help you accomplish much. Open ended questions can offer great insight but are also harder to quantify and analyze after the information is gathered. A combination of multiple choice type and open ended questions can often work best to give you a well-rounded view of your audience.

Done properly, focus groups and questionnaires can be very helpful when you start thinking about your marketing strategy. And, with online tools like SurveyMonkey and SurveyTool, creating and distributing a survey has never been easier. So what are you waiting for?

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