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Today's entrepreneurs enjoy a huge advantage over those of twenty years ago: They have a vital tool that offers a direct line of communications to their customers. The Internet is an incredibly powerful tool for small businesses.
By utilizing a variety of online marketing surveys, you can put together a strategic marketing plan that will allow you to collect the valuable information you need to grow your business.
Knowing how customers view your company is valuable information that will improve your business and allow you to become familiar with your customers. Listening to customers will give you a better understanding of what they want or need, and will allow them to feel more connected to you, thereby continuing to bring you their business in the future.
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Open-ended questionnaires are among the easiest ways to hear what your customers or clients think or feel. These types of questions provide respondents with the opportunity to answer in their own words, and as a result leaves them with the feeling that their voice is being heard.
- Offers the greatest opportunity for respondents to offer their opinions.
- Can provide insight one may not have considered.
- Respondents feel as though their opinion is valued, inspiring them to respond to future questionnaires you may send.
- Responses may be too broad to measure results.
- Will not give you consistent or clear data.
Examples of Open-Ended Questions:
These types of questions are based on speculation; they force your repondents to give their personal opinions on a particular subject matter. However, these kinds of questions require respondents to think on their feet. If they do not have a strong opinion or are not sure how to define their opinion, you run the risk of receiving uncompleted questionnaires.
Be sure to include questions that are mindful of the needs and experience of your clients.
Some possible hypothetical questions:
- If you were running our company, how would you improve our products/services?
- What new products or services would you offer to improve our company?
- How would you describe our company to your colleagues/friends?
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Closed-format questions offer more targeted, focused data. Responses to these types of questions offer a level of detail that allows you to see exactly what is working for you and where you can improve your business in the future.
- Targeted questions can hone in on your area of insight/concern.
- Tighter focus, more detailed responses.
- Surveyer must know enough about the topic to provide questions that will get the results they need.
- Respondents may be tempted to choose the middle of the scale and not offer their focused opinion.
Examples of Closed-Format Questions
Multiple choice questions offer a variety of options for your respondents to choose from. However, this type of questioning can result in respondents selecting the quick and easy answer without giving much thought to their deeper thoughts or feelings.
One way to combat this is to make the choices more direct, yes or no responses. Respondents will be forced to think longer before answering and to provide more thoughtful responses which will provide you with more accurate responses.
Rating Scales are another style of closed-format questions that can help you to gather the information you need to improve your business.
Questionnaires that adopt a rating scale offer respondents the opportunity to rank their opinions on any number of criteria that you specify. From customer satisfaction to the importance of certain aspects of your company, this is a very versatile option to use in your online marketing questionnaires.
One way to avoid having reponses that are always in the “average" or “middle" range without giving a decisive opinion is to provide an even number of options for respondents to choose from.
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General Tips When Creating Your Questionnaire
When focussing your efforts toward marketing online, questionnaire formats can vary depending on the level of detail you require from respondents.
Open-ended questions may yield more general results, while closed-format questions provide a more detailed snapshot of your customers' opinions. Deciding what level of detail you require from your results makes it easy to select the format of your questionnaires.
The tone of your questions is another area that should not be overlooked. Questions should be worded carefully, in neutral or subtle overtones. By avoiding the use of overtly positive or negative questions, one can avoid possibly swaying respondents in their answers and allow clients or customers to voice their own, unbiased opinion.
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- A Better Format for Multiple-Choice Questions in Online Surveys at http://relevantinsights.com/multiple-choice-questions
- Different Types of Questions in Questionnaire Design at http://www.outsource2india.com/kpo/articles/questionnaire-types-of-questions.asp
The following Microsoft websites provide free online marketing questionnaire templates:
- Quality Scale Survey: a blank template to enter your rating scale questions
- Hotel accomodation survey: a pre-filled template to measure one’s experience
- Customer Service survey: to measure the satisfaction of coffee patrons
Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/kikashi