Surveys and polls are a staple part of many businesses’ marketing campaigns, providing valuable customer feedback while also offering an opportunity for greater interaction. How much potential they have to benefit your business often comes down to how often – and, more importantly, how effectively – you use them.
As such, here’s a go to guide for ecommerce businesses on the benefits of these market research methods, as well as some tips on how to use them productively.
Benefits of using surveys and polls
It’s worth bearing in mind that although many benefits are particularly useful for the ecommerce industry, most of the upsides are more general positives that could be applied to almost any type of business. Here are some of the main ones.
- Connect with customers: Businesses that operate mainly online don’t often get many opportunities to directly communicate with their customers beyond help centres, and vice versa. The ecommerce industry is by no means an exceptional case, as it witnesses countless transactions being partaken every day without a single word of dialogue or form of communication being made between seller and buyer. Surveys and polls offer a means of rectifying this, as by their very nature they include an interaction between customer and business. By enabling people to give feedback in their own words – or choose an option that best suits their views – they allow people to feel more involved with the process.
- Data to analyse for improvements: Numbers, figures and statistics of all kinds are like gold dust to ecommerce business. Standing out from the crowd is never easy in a market that is at times saturated and bloated, so any bit of information that helps improve your service or gives you an insight into something you could pioneer is incredibly useful to have to hand. Surveys and polls are one of the cheapest and quickest means of securing such data.
- Marketing content: It’s worth remembering that results themselves are not only useful for analysis purposes, but also marketing ones too. We’ve all seen the hair and body products adverts on television which boast about how “90% of customers surveyed said they were satisfied or very satisfied with our products”. They do this because being able to back up positive statements about your company with verified, customer-orientated statistics is one of the most effective ways of winning over viewers who are, understandably, more suspicious of corporate advertising than at any other time.
- A show of consideration: Arguably more than anything else, it is the perception of surveys that matters more than their actual results. Understanding this is easier if you put yourself in the shoes of the user flicking through your website. Seeing a survey that asks them for their opinion while aiming to improve the service instantly makes them feel that the company they’re using cares firstly about their view, and secondly about making the service as good as possible for them. Not only will this make them more likely to continue using it until they find the ideal product or service that time, but that positive brand awareness will see them return to you later on.
Surveys or polls – which one to use?
Given that the words are often used interchangeably with one another, it helps to specify that surveys and polls are in fact different things. Whereas a poll is usually a very brief, multiple choice question that takes seconds to partake in, a survey often involves a series of more detailed questions, with options for open and closed answers included in some.
Ultimately, there’s no definitive correct answer to this question – and even if there was one, it would almost certainly be “use both”. But to help you decide which one to prioritise, here are the benefits of both.
- Polls are very convenient for customers, as they take barely any time to use and, due to the fact they can be easily displayed on any web page, are often simple to navigate towards. The fact that they commonly use simple, straightforward questions also makes ambiguity less of an issue. All of this means that more people are likely to take part in them, giving you a larger sample size which, when used in data analysis and marketing, makes the results appear more valid.
- Surveys have an advantage over polls when you need to gather information on a variety of different areas and topics, as you are able to include all necessary questions in one “package” as opposed to producing multiple different polls. Given that you can often include more options for answers as well as the opportunity to write open answers in your own words, the results could also be seen as more reliable and accurate overall. All of this ties in to what is their ultimate benefit, which is essentially that the information you gather is detailed, in-depth and more useful overall. However, given the longer timespan needed to fill them in, such formats usually receive a lower response rate.
Tips for how to produce an effective survey and poll campaign
As simple as they may seem, there are many things that can go wrong when producing surveys or polls – and, equally, many ways in which they can be improved. Here are some general tips on how to overcome the former and make the most of the latter.
- Get it checked by a professional: Businesses such as YouGov and Populus specialise in survey management for a reason – there are a lot of things to consider. Even changing one word in a sentence can make a profound difference to the way people view it, even if it appears to make no change whatsoever to the untrained eye. Loaded questions, leading answer options, demographic-specific lexis – all of this has to be taken into account, so get a professional to look at it for you.
- Don’t keep the information to yourself: Your users took part in your survey, now give them the results. Not only is this fair in general, but it makes them feel like you value them as people and treat them the way they deserve. On top of that, positive results will improve their view of your brand. Publishing the data on your website also provides more content to draw hits towards and improve your SEO ranking.
- Keep the surveys as short as possible: Yes, you want to gather lots of information and that is understandable. But the reality is that even if a user is willing to commit to five minutes of their time, if time passes beyond that point then they may just stop bothering. Not only does this cement the negative idea of your brand as a time-waster in their head, but it also leaves you with an inadequate sample for the final questions, which defeats the point of including them altogether.