As an SME owner, you may think that rigorous market research is beyond your skills and budget. However, it is possible to do your own market research without a big capital outlay or advanced skills. Well-designed surveys or questionnaires can assist you to uncover what makes your customers tick, and provide valuable information to help you make strategic marketing decisions in your SME.
What surveys can reveal
- The effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.
- Customer satisfaction with your service or product.
- Whether your customers would be interested in a particular new product.
- How people feel about your prices.
- What your customers think about your website and how it could change for the better.
- What changes you can make to improve the customer experience.
They can also help answer many other questions you may have. For example, surveys can be used to measure job satisfaction amongst your employees.
What surveys entail
For a survey to work, you need a good handle on whatever it is you need to know, so that you are clear on what questions to ask. You will also need a sample size that is large enough to provide a representative picture, as well as the capacity to analyse the information that you receive back from participants.
Conducting a survey involves:
- Setting a specific goal.
- Deciding who you intend to survey.
- Designing a questionnaire in line with your goals.
- Collecting responses.
- Analysing the results to reveal trends and patterns.
- Using the results to make informed decisions in your business.
Benefits of online surveys
At one time, conducting a survey may have required handing out paper surveys (with the hope of receiving them back!), calling people by phone with questions, conducting group surveys, or maybe accosting people in shopping centres. These days, businesses have the option of online surveys which can simplify the process considerably and be done through email, internet fax, social media, or even a website.
Online survey tools and programs
There is a range of software tools available now that have simplified and streamlined the whole process of gathering and analysing data collected from questionnaires.
Here is a sample list:
- Google Forms – a completely free program that allows you to create unlimited surveys for unlimited respondents, add your own logo and images, and embed surveys into your website. Forms can be created in Google Sheets and saved in online storage.
- TypeForm – survey program that offers unlimited questions and responses as well as data export and basic reporting, all at no cost. The paid version offers additional more-advanced features for $20 per month.
- Survey Monkey – popular program offering free and paid options. The free version comes with 10 question / 100 response surveys, while paid options start at $19 per month and allow you to add your own logo and other features.
- Zoho Surveys – the free version for this program offers unlimited surveys with up to 15 questions / 150 responses, while paid plans start at $19 per month.
- Client Heartbeat – paid-only program that offers more advanced features. Prices start at $29 per month.
All the above programs come with analytical tools to provide insights on the data gathered, such as reports, graphs, tables and charts.
Conducting surveys and analysing feedback is well worth considering for any SME owner who is interested in improving their marketing efforts, products, sales, relationship with customers, and in facilitating future business growth.
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