When the Customer Weighs In: 5 Ways to Create Online Surveys That Can Grow Your Business

Entrepreneurs with an online business know that reaching, servicing and satisfying customers is one of the most effective ways to grow their businesses. And the ability to obtain and evaluate customer feedback through online surveys can give savvy business owners a strong competitive edge. The key is to create online surveys that gather relevant information and unbiased feedback from the customer—the kind of honest, unbiased information that can be used to help improve business operations. With that goal in mind, here’s a look at 5 ways to create online surveys that can make the difference between a good business and a great business.

1. Begin with the end in mind

You didn’t start your business without a clear idea of what you hoped to accomplish. An effective online survey must be designed with clear objectives in mind. This means that you need to have a clear picture as to what kind of data you hope to obtain from your customers, and how that information can help you to determine whether or not you are effectively meeting their needs and your goals.

2. Keep it simple

Although most people tend to shy away from the word “survey,” the truth is that many will participate in online surveys if they are simple, straightforward, and easy to navigate. Surveys sent via personalized emails also tend to have higher response rates, as do those that are uncluttered, which makes them more professional and appealing to the eye.

3. Engage respondents with incentives

Studies show that emails requesting the completion of online surveys that are accompanied by incentives typically enjoy much higher response rates and yield more useful information. Some examples of incentives that work well are gift cards, movie tickets and special promotional offers, e.g. “Fill out this short survey and receive 10% off your next order.” If you are offering a product sample or coupon, you can direct your customers to a survey that they’ll need to fill out in order to receive your offer. Sites like Facebook make this very simple to do with customizable applications that require customers to answer specific questions or provide information, which will then allow them to request a sample, print a coupon, or enter a sweepstakes. In addition, you can ask your respondents to share your promotions with their friends, which could lead to new customers. Remember, incentives show that you understand and appreciate the one question that all respondents ask—“What’s in it for me?”

4. Make sure survey answers are randomized

Some respondents to surveys with multiple choice questions will try to skate through by simply marking the first answer option for each question. This can skew the data, resulting in an undesirable impact on the statistical relevance of the survey’s results. Randomizing surveys so that the answer choices for each question appear in a different sequence for each respondent is a good way to keep responders from answering questions without first reading all the options.

5. Survey your loyal customer base

In this day and age, it’s easy for corporate customers and clients to feel like numbers, and that their opinions don’t really matter. An effective way to get good feedback about how your company is really doing—and generate positive PR—is to email your list of loyal customers and simply ask them for ideas on how you can improve your website or business to better serve them. They should be more than happy to offer suggestions that could help you improve their experience. In addition, when you show your customers they matter by soliciting feedback, they will be more likely to refer others to your site.

Brandon Anderson is a business writer who has helped hundreds of business owners learn more about their customers by creating online surveys, which has translated into more business.


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