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Updated Jul 31, 2023

Survey Says: The Importance of Survey Data in Marketing

Survey data can help you better understand who uses your products and services and why. Using this data to inform your marketing can make your budget go much further. Here's how to do it.

Danielle Fallon O'Leary
Written By: Danielle Fallon-O’LearySenior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
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Your target audience’s opinions are  crucial to ensuring the success of a marketing campaign and, ultimately, your brand. Soliciting survey data can help brands determine how their products and services are received, refine their marketing efforts and identify how to best promote future offerings. Here are the benefits of incorporating survey data into your marketing and how your business can gather this vital intel from consumers.

Importance of survey data in small business marketing

The widespread adoption of digital marketing has allowed businesses to collect survey data both formally and informally. Survey data and collection can make a massive difference in the success of a brand. In this era of data analytics, companies have more options than ever to solicit feedback through survey data from their target markets. Survey data allows small businesses to connect with specific demographics for the following purposes: 

  • To gauge their satisfaction with their products and services
  • To understand their buying patterns and spending habits through behavioral research
  • To determine which new offerings to develop based on pain points participants identify

Survey data can also help businesses create and launch more effective marketing strategies by refining their approach to appeal to customers based on age, gender, location, digital platform (including social media) and socioeconomic factors. Businesses can also use surveys to understand how successful their marketing efforts were, what worked well and which marketing channels were the most effective, as well as to identify areas where they can continue experimenting to improve results. 

TipBottom line
Be judicious when deciding how often to survey your audience. If you poll your customers too frequently, respondents may get tired of completing surveys for your company and ignore your request.

Types of surveys

These are some common survey types for businesses to use:

  • Customer feedback surveys: By gathering customer feedback, you can shape your future marketing campaigns, product offerings and services to better meet your consumer’s needs.
  • Employee satisfaction surveys: Although businesses usually use surveys for external purposes, you can use an anonymous survey (online or by email) within your company to gather employee feedback. Employee satisfaction surveys can help you streamline your office practices to improve morale, productivity and, of course, employee satisfaction.
  • Market research surveys: To get a sense of your consumer base’s needs and preferred shopping locations and methods, not to mention your business’s competitive placement within your industry, a market research survey may prove helpful. The primary question to answer with this survey is what consumers think of certain products or services. This feedback can inform your future marketing and product development strategies.
  • Brand awareness surveys: Surveying consumers about how well they know your brand can reflect how successful your marketing, advertising and branding campaigns have been. Brand awareness surveys can point you to areas of future improvement and reveal unexpected associations that customers make with your business.
  • Lead generation surveys: A lead generation survey can directly connect your business with potential customers and give you the opportunity to learn more about their specific needs and desires. You can quickly forge bonds with your consumer base through lead generation surveys and increase your revenue.

Prominent survey methods

Just as there are many types of surveys, there are several methods of administering them.

  • Online surveys: Filling out an online survey in just a few minutes from the comfort of their home is a hassle-free way for consumers to provide their data and opinions — and for you to collect them.
  • Email surveys: Many online surveys are first administered by email, and for good reason. An email directed to a specific consumer instead of a generalized web form may incentivize consumers to provide more honest feedback, as the experience feels tailored to them instead of aimed at a large audience and containing no personalized messaging.
  • Anonymous surveys: Not everybody wants to share their opinions, and some people who do want to share their opinions would rather not have their thoughts directly associated with their names. Anonymous surveys can offer consumers a privacy shield that might encourage their involvement in something they would otherwise avoid, meaning that your company gets access to more data it might otherwise struggle to obtain.
  • Paper surveys: Other people concerned with privacy might worry that online surveys store or track their data. A paper survey will keep consumer data between the customer and your business, so consider using a paper survey — despite the prevalence of the internet — if the questions involve more personal topics or opinions.
  • Focus groups: Focus groups are essentially surveys turned into group conversations. Through focus groups, you can obtain valuable feedback on your products and services without having consumers fill out any paperwork or traditional survey materials.
  • Mobile surveys: As smartphone use increases, surveys administered through mobile apps or text messages on smartphones may be more accessible for certain audiences. [See related article: Best Text Message Marketing Services]
  • Telephone surveys: Like mobile surveys, telephone surveys target people with smartphones. However, telephone surveys may be better if your marketing plan involves sampling a population of older users, as they may be more likely to have a landline than a device with texting or messaging capabilities.

Regardless of the method you choose, send your survey to an appropriate sample size. If you sample too small of a population, you may not yield accurate numerical data.

Benefits of surveys for businesses

Surveys can help businesses with the following:

  • Marketing strategy: Your business can use surveys to gather the opinions of a certain population about your products, services or any other needs related to your company’s offerings. For example, if your company works in internet accessibility, you can send surveys to internet users with disabilities to determine the most common accessibility-related complaints among your targeted population.
  • Demographic research: You can conduct surveys before your next targeted marketing push to determine the genders, age groups and races of the people your company targets. An anonymous survey asking participants their opinions on products like yours can also be a great chance to gather demographic data for your target market.
  • Product testing: Once your business has developed a prototype for a product, you’ll need to be sure it will actually interest consumers before releasing it for purchase. Focus groups can be an especially powerful avenue to introduce your product to people and see their spontaneous reactions or prompt them with specific questions. You can also send a product to your previous customers and get their feedback via mobile, landline, email or online surveys.
  • Customer feedback: After your product release, you can use surveys to gather customer feedback on your item. You can then use the information gathered to help shape your future products and inform your customers that the changes were based on customer satisfaction surveys.
  • Brand loyalty: Just as customer feedback is useful in shaping future products, it is also helpful for cultivating brand loyalty among your consumer base. As your customers see you implementing their feedback into your products and services, they will feel compelled to continue purchasing from you, knowing their voices are heard.
  • Employee retention and satisfaction: When you implement the changes suggested in your employee satisfaction surveys, you may notice that your employees feel more motivated to keep working for you, boosting employee retention rates.
TipBottom line
You can also use surveys to aid in talent acquisition. Create surveys and polls to understand how prospective hires rate your business against competitors who are also searching for top talent.

Survey says: Surveys crucial marketing tools for small businesses

Even with more in-depth analytical tactics, a simple survey is sometimes the best way to get a clear snapshot of what consumers and potential customers are looking for. You can use surveys at any marketing campaign stage: in the preliminary stages to help shape your strategy, during your campaign’s run to gauge public perception and in the post-launch stage to gather feedback. Whether you use them for an existing product or a brand-new concept, don’t underestimate the importance of surveys. Their data can be critical to a product or brand’s lifespan.

Max Freedman and Becky Wu, Ph.D., contributed to this article.

Danielle Fallon O'Leary
Written By: Danielle Fallon-O’LearySenior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
Danielle Fallon-O'Leary is a longtime marketer with a passion for helping clients strengthen their online brands. She has managed clients' social media accounts, developed marketing campaigns and compiled key data for analytics reports. Other projects have included newsletter curation, workflow management and search engine optimization. Along with her marketing responsibilities, Fallon-O'Leary has had an up-close look at other aspects of small business operations, including invoicing and accounting, employee recruitment and training.
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