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Posted on by Mike

How My Doin?


You’ll never know unless you ask.  A well planned survey can provide information to help you learn the “voice of your market”.

Marketers can get a good idea of customer preferences by analyzing a business’s existing records: Clients, Inventory or Services, Sales Orders, etc.  These record can eliminate guesswork since they reveal where clients who bought voted with their dollars.  However, looking at historical behavior is only half the story that tells you the past voice of your market.  But what about your market’s future voice?

The investment mantra that states, “Past results are no indicator of future performance” is somewhat relevant.  So how can you reduce the guess work about future customer preferences.

The traditional survey works.  Basically, asking clients or prospects questions beats guessing every time!  Many years ago, New York City’s late Mayor Koch was famous for asking the question, “How my doin?’”

Survey Types

Nowadays, it seems that every time you conclude an online transaction, you get a request to “take a survey”.  This is a transactional survey.  These surveys are measuring your “transactional experience.”  These surveys measure a past experience.  However, when they are requested after every transaction are simply annoying.

Then there’s the market research survey.  This type of survey seeks to measure its respondent’s preferences with a broader scope.

During the recent election season, we may have received one or more opinion surveys.  The results of these surveys are ambiguous at best.  Are they sent to determine vote preferences or to influence their positions?

Experience surveys measure overall experiences like employee satisfaction or healthcare satisfaction.

Effective Surveys

There are a number of factors that determine the success of any survey.

  • The number of respondents
  • Respondent motivation
  • Ease of taking the survey
  • How long it takes to complete the survey
  • Relevance of the survey

The Number of Respondents

So how many is enough?  The number of responses that will build confidence in your survey results are shown in the Survey Monkey chart, below:

Motivating Respondents

Survey respondents need motivation to spend their time to answer your questions.  The motivation can be pure interest, outstanding customer experience or even annoyance.  Scott Smith’s Qualtrics blog post introduced the notion of “exchange[1].”

“Obtaining information from respondents can be viewed as a social exchange. Very simply, social exchange theory asserts that the actions of individuals are motivated by the reward from these actions. For survey response to be maximized by this theory, three conditions must be present:

  1. The costs for responding must be minimized.
  2. The rewards must be maximized.
  3. There must be a belief that such rewards will, in fact, be provided.”

Motivating respondents with incentives should balance budget with relevance.  Read 7 Things to Remember When Choosing Survey Incentives at Survey Gizmo.

Above all your survey should be easy to take and as short as possible.  Balance the completeness you need with the length of your survey by using conditional tests to skip survey segments that are not relevant.

Asking Beats Guessing

So don’t guess.  Ask.  If you identify the right number of motivated respondents, the market information you receive will be meaningful and therefore, allow you to target your market with improved accuracy and precision.

[1] Why do People Participate as Respondents in a Survey? Scott Smith, April 19, 2012


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