How To Create Effective Surveys That Make Customers Love (Not Hate) You

One flaw in my writing is that I’ll rant and rave about something that’s wrong, but fail to introduce or attempt a solution. Such was the case with my recent protest over pop-up surveys, as well as my corresponding poll emphasizing my community’s disdain over them. However, I did solicit ideas and solutions: “What is the most appropriate way to solicit feedback from customers?”

I received dozens of great comments via email, at MediaPost (where my protest also ran as my weekly opinion column) and on this blog. I received an especially thoughtful comment from an unnamed employee and blogger at PaydayPERX, “an alternative advertising media company based in Columbus, Ohio.” They actually use their core product — payroll checks — as a vehicle to subtely present survey opportunities with meaningful value in return. Imagine that: surveys that customers anticipate and really want to participate in! He described important values and creative tactics that, in contrast to most survey experiences, underscore that industry’s growing desperation.

Below are gems from a blog post PaydayPERX published as follow-up to our discussion:

1. Think of survey interaction as a transaction. You seek a dialogue, and that implies not just you getting what you want but the person at the other end getting something too. Completing the survey is a transaction just like completing a sale, where the value of the money to the customer is less than the value of the product/service, and the value of the money to you is greater than the value of the product/service, and so goes the free market. How many people complete a sale where they get nothing? About as many people who fill out pop up surveys just for fun, I’d bet. Who was it that said “anything worth doing is worth getting paid for”? I believe it was the Joker, but regardless, it’s a truism.

2. Decide what you want from the lead. Certainly their contact info and something to qualify them as a prospect, an email address to opt in to all your fascinating newsletters, bla bla bla – all that is a given. But unless this is the first one you’ve ever done, you may already have this information. You could do a username password thing, but seriously who’s going to bother remembering a password for something like this? Use a cookie, use ajax when they start filling the thing out to look for a match on something personally identifying like a phone number or name + phone number in your database. In other words, fall back on another best practices principle: Let the robots do all the boring work. The same goes for how you collect the info even the first time – Do you really NEED my city and state? Isn’t the ZIP going to be enough? Unless I’m going to be physically mailing you something you don’t need to type out ‘San Bernadino’ and then pick a state code off of a screen-obscuring combo box dropdown. It’s ugly code and just because everyone else does it is no reason for you to do it.

3. Determine what it’s worth to you. If you’re a retailer you had better already have a very precise dollar figure to assign to this piece of data – how much is a lead worth? How many leads does it take to make a sale, how much is the average sale…with this math you can come up with a dollar amount and if you’re paying on clicks you should be in the same ballpark with this number. The more specific and objective you can be, the better. “Leads are worth everything to us” is a nice but useless sentiment in this case.

4. Flesh out the other side of the transaction. Come up with a sustainable reward. You want them to give you X data that is worth $Y dollars to you. Hopefully you see where this is going – what can you give them that is worth more to them than the data, but costs you less than $Y? In our case we run two types of surveys – short and quick that don’t even collect name or contact info, just some anonymous demographics, and a long one that collects more, but comes with a bigger reward. The short one poses a clever little trivia question, and to get the answer you have to complete the short survey. Despite purposely not requiring ANY of the fields, we’ve never gotten a single one that wasn’t completely filled out, so we know the reward is worth the trouble and the trouble is worth the reward. The long one requires more effort and enters you into a 1 in 10 chance of winning 2 free movie tickets. Those are good odds, so we get a lot of surveys, but the data is still being transacted at a profit for us because of our transaction analysis and value assignment. The latter are used to attract more advertisers, because they tell us what offers they want to see on their checks.

I hope PaydayPERX continues these sorts of tips and tactics on how to create effective surveys (and other insight-collection methods) that make customers love (not hate) you.

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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