Online Surveys Used in the Marketing Realm

What are online surveys?

Online surveys allow you to conduct research on your own terms. No more sending in postcards to receive responses from people you’ve never met.

Also known as web surveys, online surveys offer many advantages. For example, you can segment your respondents based on interests, demographics, or location. You can target the type of respondents you’re looking for and set the parameters of your survey in advance. There’s also no need to waste time calling potential respondents, since you can put your survey online and start getting answers almost immediately.

How do online surveys work?

Like any other marketing tool, the effectiveness of an online survey depends on how you use it. To get the best results, you need to familiarize yourself with five key metrics: 

  • sampling technique
  • question wording
  • attribution
  • validity
  • analysis

When it comes to sampling technique, your goals as a marketer are pretty obvious: You want to ensure you’ve got a good representation of your audience.

Choosing a random sample involves a little bit of luck, but it’s not as bad as it seems. There are tools like Google Surveys, which can help you generate random samples for your online surveys using different demographic variables like age, gender, or location. With a little bit of luck, you can land on an audience that’s exactly what you’re looking for. And when that happens, the benefits of an online survey are all the more apparent.

Why should you consider using an online survey in your marketing activities?

In 2019, 94% of adults in the U.S. used the internet. So it’s fair to say that almost everyone you’ll ever need to interview for your research is already online. That makes it a really attractive option for canvassing potential respondents.

Additionally, 82% of American adults own a smartphone. So even if you don’t have a survey tool already, you can probably find one that works on your phone. The convenience factor alone is enough reason to consider an online survey. You can put one online and start getting answers almost immediately.

These days, respondents generally have less respect for traditional surveys than they do for newer methods of research like online surveys. But the difference in results can be pretty significant. As a marketer, what would you rather have? A random sample that’s 80% positive or a sample that’s 10% positive and 90% negative? While it can sometimes be tricky to find an exact match for your desired demographic, the convenience of online surveys makes them a worthwhile tool to have in your arsenal.

Top 3 reasons why marketers use online surveys

Based on our research, here are the top three reasons why marketers use online surveys:

1. To gain valuable insight into marketing activities.

You know what they say: You can’t manage what you don’t measure. By measuring the results of your marketing efforts with regular surveys, you can ensure you’re doing the right thing. You can also use these results to make smarter decisions about your marketing strategy.

Consider the results of a survey conducted by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) in 2019. The survey found that only 12% of respondents said they could tell whether a billboard or TV advertisement was successful simply from its own merits. Additionally, only 7% could tell whether a pop-up advertisement was effective. But when given the choice, 89% of respondents chose to see a YouTube video that explained the purpose of an ad campaign. That’s probably because videos allow respondents to see samples of the product or service, which increases the chances of them completing a purchase. With digital marketing growing at an exponential rate, videos are essentially free and are becoming a more accessible form of media. Additionally, 96% of respondents said they would rather watch a video explaining a product or service than read a text description.

2. To reduce the sample bias.

You might be familiar with the term “sample bias”. Essentially, sample bias occurs when the people in a sample aren’t a good representation of the audience you’re aiming to reach. 

In an ideal world, every person would have equal opportunity to respond to a survey. However, the fact that some people are more likely to agree to participate in a study makes the results of any given research less reliable. This is where the benefits of an online survey come in. Since you’re choosing respondents at random, you significantly reduce the chances of sample bias. Additionally, if you do happen to encounter it, you can’t tell whether it’s sample bias or just bad luck. The key is in the numbers: The less skewed your sample, the more reliable your results will be.

3. To maximize the usefulness of your sample.

When developing your survey, you need to consider how you’ll use the results. One important point to make is that not all sample results are created equal. Sometimes, a simple yes or no question can give you a wealth of information. In other cases, you might want to dig a little bit deeper into your respondents’ opinions.

If you find that a large portion of your sample thinks one thing while a small percentage thinks another, what does that mean for your business? If you want to find out, you can ask follow-up questions that will help you determine what your audience thinks. For example, if you discover a majority of your respondents think a certain food is “bad for your health” and only a small percentage think it’s “good for your health”, you might want to do more research into what makes that food such an important part of the respondents’ diets. You can also ask them if they’ve heard of a certain medication or dietary supplement and how they think it works.

Additionally, not all respondents are created equal. You need to consider the type of person you’ll be reaching when developing your survey. One of the most effective ways to do this is through the collection of background information. You should have information about the demographics, psychographics, and context of your respondents.

For example, if you’re doing research on a retail site, you might want to look into the types of customers they have and how they behave. You can also discover a lot about your respondents by looking at their past behavior. Additionally, you can ask them what they think about various topics related to your business. The more you know about your respondents, the better able you can tailor your survey to get the most out of it.

How can you use online surveys in your marketing strategy?

Once you’ve decided to use online surveys in your strategy, you need to create a plan on how you’ll integrate them into your activities. Since you have a limited amount of time and resources, you need to consider how you’ll prioritize your use of these tools. Below, we’ve listed a few easy ways to get you started.

1. Create a sampling frame.

The first step in the process of using a survey is to create a sampling frame. A sampling frame is simply the list of individuals you’ll use to choose your respondents. Once you have your list, take a few minutes to make sure it’s accurate and complete. Now, you can start creating your questions and running your survey.

Depending on the type of survey you’re running and the time you have, you might want to consider creating a short survey or a long survey. Short surveys are usually between four and six questions long, while long surveys can take anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes to complete. Additionally, longer surveys give you more opportunity to delve into sensitive topics. For example, if you’re trying to discover the factors that prevent your respondents from purchasing your product or service, you might want to go the extra mile and ask them why they don’t buy your product or service.

2. Choose your respondents wisely.

Once you’ve got your sampling frame, it’s time to choose your respondents. For best results, you need to go beyond face value and consider things like psychographics, geography, and past behavior. You can also use tools like Google Analytics to discover valuable information about your respondents.

For example, if you discover your respondents are mostly between the ages of 25 and 34 and live in Orange County, you might want to focus your survey efforts there. Similarly, if you find your respondents are highly educated and have a high net worth, you can probably assume those are the people you want to reach. Now, it’s just a matter of reaching out and getting those respondents to participate in your study. Once they agree to participate, you can start collecting data and running your survey.