How to Use Surveys to Build Successful Marketing Campaigns

Geneva Ives
Geneva Ives
April 29th, 2019
Estimated read time: 5 minutes, 3 seconds

Surveys aren’t just for love-struck teenagers and bored webinar attendees anymore. Ok, you probably already knew that. But did you know that you can – and should – be using surveys to build marketing campaigns?

A well-executed survey can attract media coverage, which in turn leads to increased awareness and backlinks that improve your SEO. It’s easier than it sounds and can drum up a whole bunch of free publicity and new customers for your business. Make this strategy work for you in five straightforward steps.

1. Ask questions

Everything hinges on your survey questions. Ultimately, you want to create a survey that gets a significant number of responses, delivers surprising or new data, and gives the press something to talk about.

Think about the content of your questions as well as the way you deliver them. Some best practices for consumer surveys include:

  • Clearly define the goal of your survey. Don’t try to ask everyone everything, all at once. Focus on one thing, like finding out what time of day they do their online shopping or what influenced a particular purchase decision.
  • Limit your survey to a reasonable amount of questions. People are more likely to answer 10 questions than 20. They’re even more likely to answer five.
  • Limit response choices too. Ask for ratings on a scale of 1-to-5 instead of 1-to-10.
  • Keep it fun, but make sure it’s related to your business. Don’t risk alienating your email lists with a survey that seems out of character.
  • Unless critical to the purpose of your survey, stay away from words like “always” and “never.” These absolutes can confuse people into responding in ways that don’t reflect their typical behavior.
  • Test your survey. Run it by people outside of your department or business. Does anything seem weird or off-putting to them?

2. Collect answers

Sure you could track responses in an Excel spreadsheet, but using survey software is going to make this a lot easier on you. Consider using a free solution like TypeForm or something with a few more bells and whistles like SurveyMonkey.

You need enough answers to make your survey results valuable, so aim to get responses from 500 people or more. The larger your survey pool, the more interested the press will be.

If you don’t get the initial reaction you hoped for, ask yourself these questions:

  • Should the survey remain open for a longer period of time?
  • What other channels can you use to drive people to your survey? Facebook? Twitter? Are you tracking those links?
  • Should you incentivize your survey? Does it make sense to offer a discount code or similar coupon to people who complete it? Learn more about survey incentives.

3. Interpret results

And now for the fun part. It’s time to slice and dice your data set into interesting findings. Did your survey turn up any geographic or demographic trends? Do the math, call out percentages, and highlight interesting overlaps.

If your survey returned predictable results – like people with big families prefer big cars – you have three options. One is to go back to the drawing board and rewrite your survey. Another is to direct more traffic to your survey and get such a large number of responses that it becomes newsworthy. And the third option is to dig a little deeper. Sure, large families like large cars but what else did you find out? Is there a particular make or model? Is there a difference between responses from people with two children versus people with three children? Did people in urban areas respond differently than people in suburban or rural areas?

4. Showcase your work

If you build it (a survey data set), they won’t come (unless you make it look good). Take the results you extracted in step three and turn them into an interesting infographic, report or ebook. Make sure it’s visually appealing, easy to understand, and has your branding.

Next, build a mobile-friendly landing page that highlights whatever you create. Decide if you want your survey results to be public or gated. Gating the results will allow you to collect emails, but it adds a barrier to entry, ultimately reducing your exposure.

5. Publicize and enjoy the ride

You did it! Now what? It’s time to tell everyone. Get journalists interested in your results, so they visit your landing page and share it with their readers, creating positive backlinks and reaching new audiences.

Here are some ideas for driving publicity:

  • Create a press release touting your results that includes the URL. Make sure the release lists your company byline and a contact that will respond to press inquiries. Distribute the release through the wire.
  • Email the press release and findings to your contacts.
  • Reach out to niche influencers, like podcast hosts and bloggers. Content creators are always looking for more content. Volunteer to appear on their show or write a guest post about your survey findings. Don’t forget to mention the landing page URL.
  • Create a blog post or offer a webinar highlighting the results of your survey that drives people to the landing page.
  • Share the results on your social media channels. Make sure the headline is catchy and graphics are on-brand. Try adding a video to make it more compelling.

Bonus: Take the shortcut

If you have access to consumer data, you can skip steps one and two and start right in on number three. For example, if you have a subscription-based business, you might have unique data on list attrition and retention over time, demographic geography, or consumer touch points leading to a sale.

You can analyze this information to derive and share interesting findings, you just need to be cautious about the way you do it. Make sure you’re protecting consumer rights by anonymizing the data to eliminate any personal information that might put you at risk of violating CCPA or GDPR legislation. The one benefit of taking the extra steps to execute a survey is that you can include express consent to use the data you collect.


Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives is a marketing writer for leading tech and travel companies. She focuses on improving online experiences with the end goal of making the internet a more efficient place for everyone – consumers, brands, and search bots included! When Geneva is not animatedly discussing SEO, CTAs, and UX, you’ll find her eating her way through Santa Barbara.

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