Providing data is a big business, or rather a lot of big businesses, and people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a great research report. That means that you can provide value to your website visitors by sharing information from surveys, even if yours are on a smaller scale than a survey from Deloitte or Forrester.
When you provide value, you get some things in return: greater authority and trust, and increased likelihood of return visits to your website, potential for press coverage, and a chance to swap your survey results for your prospects’ contact information.
Getting the most from your survey requires some planning and follow up. The amount of planning required for a three-question survey is completely different for what you’ll need if you’re hiring a research firm to do an extensive survey, but every survey project can be done in much the same way.
- Collect data. Use a tool like Zoho Survey or SurveyMonkey, or conduct your survey by phone if you want the opportunity to make personal contact at the same time.
- Analyze the data. Sharing the raw data is helpful, but analysis is what really makes it valuable. Identify the trends in the information and connect them with other available information, with a view toward providing information your particular market segment can take action on.
- Publish your report. Create a PDF file of your report that you can offer as a download in exchange for contact information.
- Share the information. Make a page, post, or email offering the survey results to readers. Ask them to fill out a brief form in order to get to the download. An example is our PPC Plan Book. Click on that link and you’ll be taken to a form where you can swap your contact information for our ebook.
Creating and conducting a survey, analyzing the data, and creating the report — it can come to a good deal of time and expense, so you’ll want to make sure that you get the best return on your investment.
Beyond the basics:
- Get serious. A sample size of 25, responses to a Facebook post, or casual interviews with friends do not constitute useful data. Be prepared to show that your methodology makes your results meaningful.
- Ask the right questions. If your customers, clients, patients, or readers have questions they’d like to see answered, you have questions to ask. Sometimes there are controversies, questions that haven’t been answered in a particular market or context, or related issues that bring value, too.
- Tabulate your data accurately. Online survey tools do this for you. If you opt to collect data by phone or door to door, make sure that you’re collecting and counting all the answers. If you have a team working on this, ensure that they’re consistent.
- Analyze your data honestly. Especially if you have a dog in the data hunt you’re working on, make sure your analysis will stand up. Recently, we saw data looking at first and second generation immigrants in the Netherlands being used to support claims about older and younger generations’ responses to marketing in the U.S. This kind of misuse of data can really backfire.
- Create a great report. Get plenty of information, tease out the most significant or actionable bits, and organize them to be scannable and to offer satisfying information for serious readers who want to get the most from your report.
- Increase perceived value. Consider having your report styled by your graphic artist (or ours, if you don’t have one). The data isn’t any more valuable just because it looks nice on the page, but people will feel as though they’re getting more.
- Repurpose data for multiple media. While you have your graphic artist on the job, create a great slide deck, Prezi, infographic, and some good charts or graphics for your blog, too.
- Generate buzz. Use social media, give interviews to local press, and write about the most interesting or surprising tidbits from your survey before you publish. Share data with relevant bloggers and journalists. For example, check out this blog post with video from 8th & Walton showing some of the highlights of their 2014 Walmart supplier survey. With pinnable graphics and wide distribution through social media and email blasts, this brought good attention ahead of the full distribution of results. After publication, we added a link to download the full results, so the post continues to do its job into the future.
- Share the data after publication. Get your information out there after publication, too. Use a press release, multiple blog posts or articles dissecting the data, webinars, and presentations at conferences or for networking groups.
- Track your results. Count the number of downloads, the number of press mentions, and the traffic to your relevant pages and posts. This information will help you plan future initiatives.
- Do it again next year. Depending on the questions you ask, you might be able to make your survey an annual event.