Whether you’re starting up your own business or in the throes of running an established one, chances are that you haven’t really thought about doing market research simply because there aren’t enough hours in the day.

But market research can give your business a very powerful edge – if it’s done right.

Market research gives you the ability to adapt your marketing campaigns to the right kind of customer – ie: your ideal customer.

Plus, depending on the type of customers you’re looking to reach, your mailing list and the types of questions you ask, you could also get a great deal of potential new business leads from your research.

For example, the market research (aka customer satisfaction research) we’ve carried out for established clients who provide professional services to their clients, such as accounting practices, find that they can net 40-50 ‘highly likely to convert’ leads for business well in excess of $100K in the first year. The bonus there is that these clients usually have a long tail and those leads are usually worth well in excess of $500K if you take longer term customer value into account. That’s an ROI in well excess of 100 times.

So how do you capture a slice of that?

6 tips to better marketing surveys 

Using a few simple methods, small business owners can conduct their own market research.

Use an inducement

I know what you’re thinking: folks are going to see your survey as spam and hit delete. But you’d actually be surprised at how many people will respond – especially if you give them a nice inducement – worth say $500. And really, by comparison to what you’re getting in return, it’s cheap.

If a more personal campaign is more your style, you can always call clients over the phone. However, be warned, then your clients might give you the answers they think you want to hear, rather than the truth. It’s always much easier to be honest with the arm’s length distance of a screen than it is with a real live human that you know.

Refine your questions

Next, remember is that your questions are tools to gather good information. This is the tricky bit. Often clients tell me they’ve done surveys before but they didn’t get any useful information back or they got weird answers back. Always test your questions to make sure what you’re asking for is what your customers think you’re asking.

Ask someone who doesn’t know what you do intimately to tell you if they understand what you’re asking – like a couple of friends or the neighbour’s (or your own) 10 year old. If they understand what you’re asking for, you’re on the right track.

Don’t make it too long

100 question, multiple page surveys make people want to stick pins in their eyes. Not only that, it greatly reduces the likelihood of completion. Keep your questions to 10-15 tops.

Mix it up and don’t prompt every answer

If you are going to use multiple choice, make sure that you have at least six choices available – you want a good or bad choice. Not a 3/5 neutral score.

Make sure that you’re not prompting every answer – otherwise you’ll miss out on some great insights. We once did some pre-brand development for an accounting firm with their clients and more than 50% of responses came back telling us that the number one value (unprompted) their clients attributed to the firm was ‘friendly’ (and professional, etc). But that was critical for how we moved them and their brand forward.

Let your customers know your results

If you’re doing a satisfaction survey or gathering information on something else that your customers will find interesting – let them know. Send out a brief precis of the results by email, post to your website

Follow up within a month

If your research highlights new business opportunities, make sure that you follow up within 30 days. Your clients might not be ready to purchase right now, but if you let those potential opportunities slip through the net to someone else who’s keener, your ROI will drop considerably.

Hope that’s given you some ideas for how to engage in getting some good info back from your clients so that you can have a kick-ass 2014.

Of course if we can help you put a customer satisfaction survey or some other kind of marketing research to get your marketing for 2014 on track to grow your business significantly, we’d be delighted to talk further.  You can reach us on (02) 9994 8005 or drop us a note.

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