During the 2014 campaign season, millions – no billions – of dollars were spent on polling Americans to try to gauge the outcome of the election prior to Election Day. Research firms like Gallup, Harris, and Rasmussen Reports called, tracked, recorded and reported daily. Who hasn’t received phone calls from pollsters on both sides of the aisle? I know people who actually stopped answering their phones unless the caller id revealed a close friend or family member until after November 4. This long election season may finally be over, but polls and surveys – whether you’re a Democrat or Republican – remain a primary way for businesses to collect information about their customers, products and strategies. Through polls and surveys, you can:
- get feedback (product enhancements, service improvements)
- learn new ideas (new product or line of business)
- gather testimonials (proof points for future customers)
- find information gaps (content marketing)
- interact and engage with customers (social media)
Polling 21st Century Style
Unlike in years past (think Mad Men), it’s no longer the case that a business needs a lot of time and money to do a poll or survey right. Today, just about any business, small or large, can reap the benefits. We have the the internet and social media to thank for this. Online tools like SurveyMonkey allow small businesses to create their own survey for free. Facebook has a free polling option, too, if that’s where you interact with your customers. Well-regarded, fee-based survey tools include SurveyGizmo and Google Consumer Surveys. Constant Contact also offers a comprehensive online survey program starting at $15 a month. And with Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn at anyone’s fingertips, distribution of the survey has become more and more simple.
Survey in Action
We created a SurveyMonkey poll, embedded it on the website, and directed customers and prospects to the poll via an email newsletter, blog post, and LinkedIn update. The emphasis on quick and easy – we called it a “One Minute Survey” – helped motivate people to fill it out. (You’re welcome to take the One Minute Survey, too!) Results showed that there was plenty of room for customer education, so we built a resource section, Signage 101, on its website.
The tools available to businesses today mean that customer and prospect feedback can easily be included in any business’ strategic plan, from product development to expertise marketing. Have you polled your customers recently?
Originally published November 2012; updated November 2014