Tagged: Surveys

Spreading The Word About Your Survey

Screaming loudly is one way to spread the word

With your survey data looking sharp, you’re ready to spread the word about it.  I prefer starting the “spread” by presenting a webinar of the results. A webinar brings you a captive audience for 30-45 minutes. There’s a whole series on how to do webinars starting here.

You’ve got two primary ways to drive registration for your webinar.

  1. Pay to advertise it
  2. Promote it yourself for free

For the startups that have marketing budget, test a few paid approaches.  These are listed in order from cheapest to most expensive.

  • Purchase small campaigns on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook targeted directly to your audience.  Target by title, company, location, and whatever else works. You set the budget here.  Start with a minimum of $100.  Expand them if they generate lots of registrations.  Kill them if they don’t.
  • Purchase advertisements on online industry publications.  This can range from $500 to $10,000 depending upon which sites you’re purchasing it from. This approach worked well for me in the past.
  • Hire a PR firm specific to your industry.  These folks ain’t cheap, but the good ones have established industry relationships nurtured over years.  They can get you and your data published in more places more quickly than you can.

Don’t have budget to promote your webinar?  Try these ideas.

  • Take each topic or main point from the survey and write a blog post about it.  This should give you 10-30 blog posts and fill your marketing calendar with great, sharable content for 2-6 weeks, depending upon the how frequent you post.  Use this promote webinar registrations.
  • Build a schedule of tweets and LinkedIn posts sharing valuable data nuggets from the webinar.  Link to the webinar’s registration page.
  • Email your existing customers notifying them of the webinar. I schedule a series of at least three emails spaced over a few weeks.
  • Email your prospects.
  • Email your advisors, mentors, investors.  Ask them politely to share with people who will find the content valuable.  Make it easy for them.  Ghost-write the email you’re asking them to send to their people.
  • Do the PR yourself.  Huh?

Months in advance of any “ask” for PR, track the names of journalists writing about similar topics.  Comment on their articles.  Add value to the discussion at least 5 times per author.  Now that you’ve got something valuable to share in return, your past history with them serves as a reference point. This doesn’t guarantee, but greatly increases the likelihood they’ll write about your data, or publish your own analysis of the findings.

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 11.43.56 AM

After the webinar, shift the focus to promoting the whitepaper.  The same techniques described above work just as well for driving downloads of the whitepaper.

You’re also armed with fantastic content to submit to conferences for speaking engagements.

In a round-about way, this is how I got to be on TV [sort of] to discuss our findings.  A customer referral to an industry organization six months ago led to presenting our survey data to an audience of 800 potential customers via a live broadcast.  Not too shabby.

We’ve reached the end of this series on how startups use surveys for content marketing, and it’s time to move on. Next up, let’s dig in to the “tool stack” available to startup marketers.  FYI – “Tool stack” sounds cooler than it really is.



Making Survey Results Look Pretty

After you’ve completed a thorough analysis of your survey, make it presentable to the world.  Here are a few thoughts on how to bring the data to life:

Go Beautiful or Stupid Simple
A beautifully designed whitepaper will catch the eye and make you look more professional than you really are.  Budget permitting, hire a designer.  Should you lack the cash for that, go stupid simple and adopt the “eMarketer approach”.  Pick two colors and make everything look the same. Not fancy, but still professional looking.  Here’s how eMarketer “emarketified” our charts.

Stupid Simple Design
Stupid Simple Design

Use the Right Tools
If you don’t have design help and adopt the “stupid simple” approach, use PowerPoint to build your charts and graphs.  If you’ve got the chops for Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, go ahead. Find charts and graphs in other whitepapers and mimic their style.  If you don’t have those chops but aren’t afraid of Github, try the open source Chartbuilder to make fancy charts, or Chartjs.org.

Convey the key point
The reader must know instantly the key point you wish to convey.  Don’t make the user figure it out.  The ultimate goal isn’t pretty or lots of data.  The goal of each chart is to convey the key point.

People use news apps in the morning!
People use news apps in the morning!

1-2 Charts Per Page Max
The kissing cousin of “convey the key point” is limiting the amount of content on a single page.  Too much on a page will distract the reader from the key points.  Instead, order the pages by the category of results: demographic pages, behavior pages, usage pages.

Create the Whitepaper First
You will be using this content for both a whitepaper and a webinar.  It’s much easier to build the whitepaper first,then use those images in a PPT for a webinar.

Cite Yourself
Include a notation below every chart to make sure companies recognize your work when they’re re-using it.

See the tiny citation at the bottom?
See the tiny citation at the bottom?

Include Your Methodology
Why? Because everyone else does. Just kidding. Because this brings credibility to your study and your startup.

Start With an Executive Summary
We finish this list with the beginning of your whitepaper.  What are the top insights the reader should take away from this survey?  Tidy those up and kick off the data with those key points.

The exec summary and the methodology
The exec summary and the methodology

See?  Just that easy.

How a Startup Should Interpret Survey Data

The beer goggles of survey data analysis
The beer goggles of survey data analysis

Conducting a survey is a phenomenal tool for startups to use for marketing, customer research, and product decisions.  The “survey” series began with this post, and we’re ready to nerd out and interpret your survey’s results.

Let’s start with a few lenses through which you should view your data.  Kinda like “beer goggles” for number crunching, without the hangover or walk of shame.

  • You’ve just conducted an online survey, so there will be a slight bias in your survey results towards the tech savvy.  I don’t believe that it is enough of a bias to get your boxers in a twist, or your proverbial panties in a wad.  Gross.  Nevertheless, keep this in mind.
  • Never believe anyone’s numbers but your own.  The survey expresses “declared intent”, but this can vary dramatically from “actual intent”.  In English, people often behave differently than what they say in a survey.  Don’t base your entire company’s strategy on survey results.  It is only another data point to consider.

Before you begin, annoint yourself “Chief Data Scientist“.  You’ll feel much smarter and more capable of extracting incredible insights from numbers, charts, and graphs.

With your new title, take the first question, and copy the question itself and the responses to a Google doc.  Do the answers show:

  • An upward or downward trend?
  • A preference towards one topic or another?
  • A picture of who the audience is, was, or is becoming
  • Groups of data, that if bundled together, make a different point?  See this example here
Q by Q analysis in a Google Doc.
Q by Q analysis in a Google Doc.

Write down your observations below each question.  Come up with different interpretations of the data.  List out ideas of what you might change based upon that answer.  Here’s an example of what this looks like.

Do this for every question.

If you’ve used SurveyMonkey’s Audience, go back through each question and see if adding in demographic info creates new insights.  Do age ranges create different preferences?  Gender? Income?  The example below shows that demographics in mobile are evenly spread for local news consumption.  This is surprising because the TV audience typically skews older.  Pretty cool, and a valuable data point.

Double your pleasure with demographic data
Double your pleasure with demographic data

Share the document with your team.  Politely ask them to read through your analysis in order to poke holes in it as well as add different observations.  The key point here is that you absolutely need more than one pair of eyes on your survey.  This will create better analysis and less bias.

Surveys are fun because you get to use your analytical and data crunching left brain with your thoughtful and creative right brain.  That’s up next – making your results look pretty to put in webinar and whitepaper.



Picking Your Survey Audience

Picking your survey audience should be as fun as rocking an audience, but it's not.
Picking your survey audience should be as fun as rocking an audience, but it’s not.

Welcome back to the ongoing startup marketing series.  We’ve been mucking around with using surveys as a tool for startups to build tons of content marketing, i.e. customer foreplay, collateral.

Part of building a successful online survey is picking the correct audience.  I boil down audience selection down to three factors:

  1. Who’s in.  Who’s out.
  2. The size.
  3. How people find your survey.

A good online survey tool, like SurveyMonkey [I am not a paid sponsor nor endorser, only a user of the product], makes this very easy.  Taking the above point-by-point…

    Click to make big
    Click to make big

  1. If you need a very broad audience, that’s easy.  Open it to everybody.  If you need to limit by gender, income, age, education, location, shopping habits, technology use, check the right buttons in your survey tool.  Take look at this image here.

  2. Pick the size of your audience based upon two criteria: your budget and the end use of the data.  The larger your audience, the more likely you’ll have to pay to reach that size, and the more you will pay. Do what your budget permits. Secondly, if you hope to have your data published in scientific journals or more legitimate news sources, you’ll want a larger data set. Small data sets usually aren’t statistically significant enough to be representative of the US population [if that’s what you’re after].  Small audience sizes work well if the audience or industry to whom you are marketing is also small.
  3. If you share your survey only with friends and colleagues, your data will be heavily biased towards people who think and act like you.  If that is representative of your target audience, go for it.  If not, pony up the cash and pay to reach a broader audience.

Next up, we’ll share how to appoint yourself “Chief Data Scientist” for your startup, and how to interpret the data from your survey.



9 Steps To Build Questions for a Survey

Survey says?
Survey says?

Preparing questions for a survey is a daunting task.  What should you ask and why? Should the questions rate answers on a scale, or be open ended? How many should you have?

As with most things here on The Expert Generalist, I know a little about a lot. Building survey questions is a sophisticated science.  TEG is in short supply of sophisticated science.  Instead you get a few real world lessons.

Step 1.  Ask for help.
Find another company that pulls off surveys for content marketing and ask them for help. Billy Purser, VP of Marketing for DigitalSmiths, kindly shared his advice with me.

Step 2. Choose a survey tool.
SurveyMonkey not only provides a great survey tool to build the questions, they also provide the ability to reach their Survey Audience.  You can purchase additional survey responses from people across the country who volunteer to take surveys in exchange for donations to charity.

Step 3. Know Your Unknowns.
Write down all of the unknowns for which you seek answers.  This will be the foundation of your questions. Here are a few examples:

  • When do you use the product?
  • Why do you use the product?
  • How do you use the product?
  • What other products do you use?  Why?
  • Where do you use the product?
  • What’s the biggest frustration you have with XYZ?
  • Who are you?

Step 4. Write down your answer choices to your questions.
I prefer multiple choice, instead of ratings, for surveys intended for content marketing.  List as many as relevant, while also providing an open text box for “Other”.  You’ll use these “other” responses for future surveys to improve your list of answer choices.

Step 5. Exclude the Unqualified.
The very first question in our survey asked “Do you use a news app?”.  YES people continued with the survey. NO people got the boot.

Step 6. Know Why You Want the Answer To Every Question.
If you can’t do anything with the answers you get, don’t ask the question.

Step 7. Cut out your less impactful questions.  
Quality, not quantity.  People will abandon your survey if it’s too long.

Step 8.  Take the survey yourself.
Time yourself.  Make edits.

Step 9. Share the survey with a few friendlies.  
Ask them to evaluate the questions based upon criteria, listed in order of importance.  Hey Josh, can you review this survey?  Pay attention to these elements, which I’ve listed in priority.

  • What can I do to improve the “understandability” of the questions?
  • What other answer choices should I have listed?
  • Was the survey too long?
  • Any typos?

Include those suggestions as you see fit.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road.  Here’s a link to my previous survey. You’ll see how each question is built, and the answer choices.  You do have to take the survey to view the questions.  If you want to see the finished product instead, grab the PDF here.




The Twin Win of Surveys for Startup Marketing

We continue today with our ongoing series of startup marketing. One of the most insanely effective techniques is the SURVEY.  Specifically, you are seeking answers to questions that you, your chosen industry, your customers, and your customers’ industry want to know.  I don’t mean a customer satisfaction survey.

Twins separated at birth?
Twins separated at birth?

Something about the phrase “win-win” implies d-baggery to me. Instead, I like to think that surveys create a twin win.  Having boy/girl twins warps your mind into a constant state of twin-dom. Plus, it’s fun to say really fast. Twinwin.  Twinwin. Twinwin.

Surveys deliver a twin win because:

  1. They provide immediate feedback that will alter and/or affirm your product direction.
  2. They provide tons of content for your marketing team. A single survey should generate a webinar, a whitepaper, numerous blog posts, lotsa tweets, industry coverage, press release.

We will thoroughly enjoy ourselves over the next few weeks as we catalogue the building, development, and execution of a survey.   Let’s begin with the most important piece of any new campaign…

What the heck do we actually want to accomplish with a survey? Is it…

  • Lead generation for the sales team?
  • Industry press coverage?
  • Product development clarity?
  • All the above?

More than likely, you’ll want some of each element. Picking a primary focus will change how your structure your survey, the questions you ask, and how you present the results.

Pick your focus, now pick your goal: 200 new leads, 5 articles written, webinar with 50 attendees.  Excellent.

Here’s where we’re headed next:

  • Building the questions
  • Choosing the right survey tools
  • Selecting the audience
  • Interpreting the data
  • Presenting the data
  • Repurposing the content
  • Spreading the word

By the time we wrap this up, you’ll be a professional amateur at conducting surveys and I’ll have blogged my way to a book.  Twin win!