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Survey Your Clients with a Variety of Marketing Tools

written by: Mary Rajotte•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 6/9/2011

Customer feedback as an integral part of your business. When you're marketing online, questionnaire formats of various styles help you gather the information you need to make informed decisions about the future of your company.

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    survey  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 Questions

    Open-Ended

    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.

    Pros:

    • 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.

    Cons:

    • Responses may be too broad to measure results.
    • Will not give you consistent or clear data.

    Examples of Open-Ended Questions:

    Hypothetical 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:

    1. If you were running our company, how would you improve our products/services?
    2. What new products or services would you offer to improve our company?
    3. How would you describe our company to your colleagues/friends?
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    Closed-Format Questions

    Closed-Format

    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.

    Pros:

    • Targeted questions can hone in on your area of insight/concern.
    • Tighter focus, more detailed responses.

    Cons:

    • 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

    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

    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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    References

    The following Microsoft websites provide free online marketing questionnaire templates:

    Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/kikashi






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