What’s the purpose of your business?
The sole reason your business exists is to fulfill needs.
Your product or service fulfills your customers’ needs. Their purchases fulfill your business’ needs (and in turn, yours). Your business fulfills your employees’ needs, and so on.
Fortunately, systems can be put in place to support this end result. One important system is to gather data to better understand how to serve your prospects, customers and employees - rather than just assume you’re already doing it. This is good marketing: understanding how your customers think and make decisions.
A common, and often overlooked, way to gather this data is by conducting surveys.
We asked Cameron Madill, President and Co-Founder of Synotac, a Portland based web design and digital marketing firm, to provide us with an article about useful surveys that offer small business owners the data they need to increase performance immediately. In part one of a two-part series, here’s what he had to say:
With the advances in technology over the last ten years, it has become much easier for businesses to create and deliver surveys. In a future article we will cover some of the tools you can use to create and deliver surveys online. While the types of surveys you can run are only limited by your imagination, here are a number of the most useful:
1. Net promoter score (Customer satisfaction)
While there is a large range of customer satisfaction surveys to choose from, one of the best researched and proven formats is Net Promoter Score (NPS), a methodology created by Bain Consultant Fred Reichheld. In his book, The Ultimate Question, he details how one simple question -- How likely is it that you would recommend [company] to a friend or colleague? -- has been shown to be the single best measure of whether or not a customer will become a repeat customer and refer business in the future.
2. Gallup Q12 (Employee satisfaction)
There are as many formats for employee satisfaction surveys as there are for customer satisfaction surveys, but by far the best approach I have seen comes from the good folks over at Gallup. Their brief 12-question survey (The Gallup Q12) is easy to deliver and comes based on massive amounts of research into what factors lead to engaged employees. Gallup went through thousands of employee surveys to find the twelve that most strongly correlated with employee engagement, which in turn leads to increased employee retention, profitability and revenue growth.
3. One question survey (Headline testing)
A little bit of effort researching headlines can pay big dividends in creating messaging that persuades your prospects to take action. My favorite format comes from Joe McVoy of Profitable Marketing Enterprises, who advocates a very simple format. Brainstorm your ten favorite headlines with your team; strive to make them as different as possible since meek headlines rarely win. Next, send an email to at least one hundred of your target prospects titled “One-question survey” (or buy advertising on a website your prospects use) and offer a chance to win a small incentive such as a $50 gift card for completing your survey. Once they click on your survey, ask them to rank the ten headlines from most to least compelling. Make sure to have your survey tool randomize the order of the headlines so that the results are not biased.
4. Educational customer research
One of the best ways to engage your market can be to create original research they can use to improve their businesses. One of the best examples of this technique that I know of is a company called Inavero that provides customer satisfaction surveys and custom consulting to the staffing industry. They partner with CareerBuilder.com each year to survey staffing companies around the US about their current opportunities, challenges and performance. This original research provides valuable content to staffing companies that want to learn more about current best practices in their industry to improve their service and financial performance. Naturally, companies that engage with the original research you create are often interested in learning more about how you can help them with paid services.
5. Website feedback
There are a number of great tools that you can install on your website to gather data on what is and what is not working on your site. While what visitors say does not always match up with what they do on a website, the insights can be invaluable in increasing the effectiveness of your website at generating results. There are a number of excellent tools to use, with the free 4Q survey developed by analytics guru Avinash Kaushik being one of the most popular. His methodology is straightforward and based around a few short questions: 1) What was the primary purpose of your visit? 2) Were you able to complete your purpose? 3) If not, why not?
6. Online quizzes
Last but not least, online quizzes can be a good way to engage your prospects. These are typically more casual in nature, but they can spark a positive conversation and engagement. Quizzes can be featured in one newsletter and then the results can be shared in a blog post, social media and the next newsletter to keep visitors coming back.