As communicators – internal or external – it can be frustrating to determine the best content or method of delivery that will engage or convert our audiences. It’s easy to think it’s all on us to come up with our communication solutions from scratch or wait for divine inspiration. But more often than not, the answer is right in front of us. All we have to do is ask.
The power of surveys is growing exponentially in the fields of marketing and internal communication. With technology making it easier to reach the audience, it’s almost neglectful for communicators not to take advantage of this incredibly useful method. Instead of guessing what our internal and external customers want or need, it’s easier to ask them outright how we can serve them better.
When we know what they want, creating the content that speaks to them best becomes a much more fluid and simple endeavor. But what are some principles to keep in mind when developing your inquiry?
Let Your Ultimate Goal Build Your Survey
What do you ultimately want to find out? If you’re an internal communicator, you probably want to know what engages employees – what kind of stories and the method in which they prefer to receive corporate messaging (intranet, email, blog, management, etc.). If you’re a marketer, you want to know what drives customers to your site and, ultimately, what makes them buy (helpful content, memberships, discounts, free shipping, etc). Build questions that will give you the answers you want.
Decide On a Method
Online surveys are by far the method of choice nowadays. Of the available tools, SurveyMonkey is the most popular. But there are others including SoGoSurvey and FocusVision. Any of these should suit your survey needs, so it’s just a matter of preference and budget. But if you have the means, electronic surveys provide ease of delivery and produce invaluable detailed analyses.
This certainly isn’t the only method. Marketers often hand out short surveys on postcards at events or stood on street corners with clipboards and chotchkies in hand, asking passers-by for their opinions and insights. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. It’s effective and if you craft the limited amount of questions you have to fit on the allotted space, then customers will feed you valuable information about how to reach them and thus, how your content should be developed.
Don’t Make Your Survey Too Long
Customers and employees will quit on you if your survey is too long. Don’t make them run a marathon; get what you need in a sprint. Make your questions specific to your goals and get the information you need. In today’s world of short attention spans, your worst enemy can be unnecessarily long content.
Determine the Right Frequency
Annoying your audience is probably the least effective way to get responses. That’s not me talking… that’s science! Don’t bombard your audience with emails. Pick a frequency that won’t make the recipient dread seeing your email. Once a week is probably optimal. Unless you’re offering a kick-ass incentive, those who receive your emails too often will automatically hit the Delete button.
Speaking of incentives, it doesn’t hurt to offer a little bribe to get your audience to respond. Marketers have a multitude of possibilities (free shipping, discounts, buy-one-get-one offers, etc.), but internal communicators tend to be more limited depending on the willingness of management to spend money. Certainly prizes like gift cards or electronics help, but the chance to be included in a raffle of some kind – for a prize or maybe paid time off – is also an enticing incentive.
I know there are many of you who have extensive experience in audience surveys. So what am I missing here that you’d like to add? What’s worked best for you in developing a profile of your internal or external customers? Let us know in the Comment section below.
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