Articles Of interest

The More You Know - The Better the Design

Understanding Your Customers

Want To Know
What Your
Customers Want?
Just Ask

The very first email was sent in 1971.

Ray Tomlinson (a US programmer) who invented the email system sent the first email. It’s estimated that 80% of all email sent on the Internet today is spam. Thanks Ray, now we all get to deal with spam.

One of the best ways to find out what any group of people want is to create a survey that asks the right questions. Creating a great survey to help you serve your chosen audience can be a good way to find out exactly what they want, like, or hate. And trust me when I say you need to know all three if you want to create a relationship with your visitors.

Creating a survey can be a little tricky at first glance. But once you get the hang of it, you will be amazed at what people will tell you when you ask. Really, the first survey I was involved with online was a real eye opener. It was in the early days of the Internet and the website was about do it yourself crafts. And the results fueled a 34% growth in number of visitors and the amount of time they spent on the website in the next 90 days.

The Survey Results Were Different Than We Expected

Myself and the website owner were astonished at the amount of information we gleamed from the response. Just a one of the tidbits we found was that over 70% of the visitors were elementary school teachers. Now that makes sense once you see it and the website owner was aware that he had some teachers in his visitors but never thought it was that high of a percentage. In response he created a section just for elementary teachers that included lesson plans, shopping lists, and other specific information. A Home Run for sure.

There are several ways to put up a survey on your website. You can use a plug-in on WordPress, most of the forms plug-ins have survey features and then there are some dedicated to surveys alone. You can make a simple one yourself with a little java script insertion. Or you can use a website like Survey Monkey to do all the heavy lifting from design to results.

It really depends on how often you plan using surveys. If you just have one website, plan on doing one per year, or just want to test this method out I would go with Survey Monkey. They have the best support for beginners and make it very easy to come up with a great survey very quickly. Survey Monkey has a free version that is limited to 10 questions and 100 results that you can try. If you have multiple websites and will do a lot of surveys I would go with a plug-in that specializes in surveys like YOP Poll (

There Are Some Tricks To Getting It Right

OK, even though both of the above selections provide a lot of great information let give you a few tips on what I’ve learned about surveys in my experiences. Figuring out what you want to ask about is probably the most challenging part of any survey. It may appear simple at first but the more you delve into it, the more you become aware of the difficulty. And each niche or type of subject matter has their own twists and turns. The best way I’ve found to start is to define a set of objectives first, based on specific information that would be of value.

The first question I usually get asked is how many questions. And the best answer is it depends. I keep my mine short and sweet (I’ll get to the sweet in a minute). I think in most situations 10 questions can provide enough input. Any longer and it gets cumbersome for the user, any less may not tell the whole story. Now in certain situations where you already have a relationship with your users or the subject matter may require more questions so you could go longer.

Multiple choice questions are normally the best way to go since they make it as easy as possible for the users. But if you have some questions that may be a little deeper you could add a write in choice after the multiple choices. This give the users an option to elaborate, but it also messes with ratios and increases the measurement time and effort. So be selective and don’t make it more work for the user.

Should you require a name or email address to take the survey. Yes, I always do for several reasons. One is I want to send them the results, and most welcome that. And taking names or email addresses lessen the spam and clowns, even though they can still fake it. And last but not least, I may want to contact someone to help, get additional input, or specifically address an issue. It’s entirely up to you and of course your subject matter.

How Do You Get Visitors To Spill The Beans?

OK, let’s talk about how you convince someone to take the survey, the sweet part of the survey. I usually offer something of serious value to the user. I’m not talking about a 5 page pdf about very general information. I’m talking about something they cannot resist. A Podcast on related subject matter, a cheat sheet on saving money and time, a 10% discount on anything I sell, in my case a free review of their website, and etc. Pick something that really will appeal to the broad group, offer 2-3 items and let them choose, case histories or examples of success are always popular too.

I’ll tell you another way to use surveys that aren’t really surveys. Every item I sell comes with a quick 2 minute short questionnaire. It looks like a coupon (and can be used as one) and asks if they would do me a favor and offer an incentive if they help. I get a lot of great information with these about everything from service to content. Not to mention loyalty since it’s a good sign that I care about their opinion.

Now I’ve really just scrapped the surface on the many ways to use a survey. Even if you don’t plan on doing a lot of surveys or have a need right now I would strongly suggest you go sign up for a free account at Survey Monkey. Just reading through all their good ideas and advice may spark a good idea for you in the future. Surveys are a powerful way to get to know your prospects and can provide insights that you may never hear about otherwise.

A Very Few Resources I Recommend

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Brian Dean is one of the best SEO guys out there today. He offers tons of great free recommendations that can be very effective. Well worth the time to go check out his website and information.

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