By Andrew Swan

Your marketing strategy is only as good as the information used to build it, which is why smart marketers use surveys to gather key information about their buyers to help them not only build an effective strategy but also inform how best to execute it.

When done right, surveys can help you better understand your market, uncover buying habits, attain product feedback, measure customer awareness, and most importantly they can help you progress buyers through their journey to purchase in the following ways:

Find new names

  • For your significant digital assets (eg. white papers), create a contact details survey as an access hurdle. This will give you new names of people who, by entering their details to read your report, have shown an interest in the topic discussed and may qualify as leads to be engaged.
  • After they have access to your digital assets, survey readers about the content and ask if they’d like to be subscribed to your nurturing eDM stream. This will not only give you insight to the effectiveness of the assets, but also increase your subscriber community whom you can then send frequent troubling content.
  • If you’ve run a survey, build a report using the survey data. This will feed your content marketing strategy with highly-valuable information and, once published and widely promoted, should increase inbound traffic to your site.

Position your brand in the category

  • Conduct an industry related survey of your own. The benefits of this are twofold; it will position you as a key member of the industry and publishing the results will validate you as an informed leader within it.
  • Promote results of industry surveys that rate you as an industry leader. If you are highly rated by a third-party survey, you should promote it to your market in order to position and promote your brand.
  • Promote results of product evaluation surveys that rate you highly. As above, if others are recommending you, you should make it known to the market.

Get buyers to acknowledge the problems with their current approach

  • Run a survey that explicitly identifies the buyer’s problem. This could take the form of an event exit survey or post digital asset survey where you ask if the topic discussed is a problem for them. If they say ‘yes’, then you know you’ve progressed them to ‘Gap Acknowledged’ and can craft your next approach accordingly.

Have buyers prefer your solution over others

  • Present the results of your customer satisfaction surveys, relating specifically to the product or service being enquired about, to prospective buyers. The opinions of those you’ve served well are highly valuable at this point in the buyer’s journey.

Best practice tips

If you’re going to use surveys as a key part of your marketing mix, it’s important to build and promote them successfully. Here are some key tips to make your surveys more engaging and to ensure they gather the information you need:

  • Make it short and easy. There is a clear correlation between survey length and abandonment rates. The longer the questionnaire, the higher the abandonment rate.
  • Limit the amount of complex and open ended questions. This will reduce the potential for respondent fatigue, while also decreasing the complexity and time necessary to answer each question.
  • Make it unique. Audit the volume and quality of existing analysis in the area. There’s no point focusing on a worn out topic. Pick something under, or poorly, covered.
  • Aesthetics matter. The overall look of a survey plays a big part in its credibility. The inclusion of brand logos and professional formatting may be the difference between the survey being taken or not.
  • Make it engaging to excite respondents and maintain interest. Build video and images into your survey to stimulate and engage your audience.
  • It needs to flow. Questions should be set out in a manner in which they flow on from each other logically. Avoid asking the same/similar question.
  • Easy questions first. Easy-to-answer questions should be placed at the start of the survey, acting to “warm up” the respondent for more complex questions later on.
  • Provide an incentive. The use of access to exclusive information, like the findings of the survey, is an effective way of encouraging survey responses.
  • Be honest. Even answers you don’t like can teach you something, so don’t try and twist them. Telling it like it is adds value and will gain you respect from respondents.

For further detailed information about survey best practice, the types of survey questions that best suit B2B marketing, and our favourite survey tools available, check out Funnel Wiki.

With thanks to Mitchell Bissinger, research assistant.