One of the fastest ways to increase sales is to make better business decisions. A proven way to improve your decision-making skills is to gather targeted, effective and actionable data. In fact, research is essential for today’s small business; providing the insights necessary to compete and grow your bottom line.
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With the advent of technology, increased online usage and free online survey tools, gathering powerful data has never been easier. In lieu of paying $4,000 to $6,000 per session, for focus groups, small businesses can gather business intelligence for free. However, many entrepreneurs are left wondering, “Where do I start? How can I create online surveys and questionnaires that will benefit my business?”
If you’re ready to increase sales by leveraging real-time data, here are ten creative ways to use online survey tools to your advantage.
1. Deploy a pre-sales online survey on your company website.
When prospective customers land on your company website make every moment count. Capture customer data to inform business decisions. As CxFocus analyst Tim Leighton-Boyce suggests, in an Econsultancy post, “Add a survey to your site, treat the comments from your customers as if they contained nuggets of gold, and you’ll learn things about your business and your market which no ‘best practice’ guide could tell you.” For instance, start by integrating highly visible links to an online survey tool within your website, especially on key conversion pages, to gather data.
2. Use mobile SMS push notifications to drive market research.
Maximize customer interaction using mobile SMS and online survey tools. According to SMS marketing company Textsprout, “Ninety-six percent of smartphone users use SMS and 98 percent of text messages are read, while 70 percent of people in the U.S. would like to receive offers on their mobile phones.” Offer opt-in mobile phone subscribers SMS alerts with an integrated online survey, and then reward respondents with exclusive promotions. Before you get started read this 2013 Guide To Text Messaging Regulations & Best Practices report conducted by Mogreet, a world leader in text and video messaging.
3. Pre-sell new product launches and services using online survey tools.
Successful small business owners know that in order to maximize sales you must create and offer a product your audience has expressed interest in paying for. But the question remains, how do you know if they’re interested? Integrate online survey tools into your product launch page to validate customer interest, using open-ended questions to elicit feedback. Screen new product concepts by inquiring on likes and dislikes and purchase likelihood. Use customer data to decipher benefits that matter and deploy must-have features.
4. Improve loyalty reward programs with online survey integration.
Make your loyalty program work harder. Loyalty programs are set up to reward and encourage loyal buying behavior. But do you know what truly separates your loyal customers from those who are not? If not, integrate a brief online survey into your email communications with loyalty rewards members. Discover the psychological value that brings customers back for more with key questions on awareness, quality, and association to discover why they are loyal to your brand.
5. Create post-sale customer satisfaction surveys.
After the sale, the real work begins. As Open View writer Dayna Rothman explains, “If attention isn’t also paid to nurturing and engaging a customer post-sale, then all of the hard work that sales and marketing put into customer acquisition can be for naught.” Bring customers full circle and offer brief customer satisfaction surveys at multiple touchpoints. For example, include a link to your online survey directly after checkout, or via flyers imprinted with a vanity (i.e. personalized) URL for in-store purchases or order shipments.
6. Build social media contests with online ‘usage’ surveys.
Increase the success rate of your next social media contest by keeping participation simple. Derive business value from your next big giveaway by using online surveys linked to incentives (i.e. free products, services, coupons or discounts). Gather data on how customers plan to use your product or service. Key insights on how, when and where the product is used can improve product development, marketing and sales efforts.
7. Survey and evaluate sales force and customer service efforts.
Did you know that “poor customer experiences result in an estimated $83 Billion loss by US enterprises each year because of defections and abandoned purchases?” (Source: Parature) Automate the evaluation of your sales activities, performance and effectiveness. Use online survey tools to deliver 360 degree surveys completed by sales staff and clients to capture feedback on your sales and customer service activities. Ask key clients and top customers to share their feedback using online surveys.
8. Develop smarter marketing messages with online surveys.
Are your current marketing messages (i.e. how you communicate with your audience) effective? Do you speak their language? As Mike Quill, CEO of Affinity marketing and sales, suggests, “The best marketing messages are benefit-driven, not feature-driven. That’s because benefits are significantly more effective at selling. And the best customer benefits are clear and obvious.” Ensure your perceived benefits match customer expectations. Communicate smarter and deliver online surveys to key customers to gain insights on the benefits they derive from your company. Find out why your target market cares about your product, service or company. Then share feedback in customer-facing environments (i.e. company website, marketing collateral, sales copy, advertisements, company blog content and more).
9. Gather field and in-store data using online surveys.
Does your company utilize street teams to gather local market insights? Do you survey customer’s in-store? If so, it’s likely that you’ve equipped them with a clipboard, printed survey forms and pens. However, there’s a better way to collect field data. Invest in low-cost tablets, or deploy online survey tool links directly to an employee’s mobile device. Empower your staff to collect real-time data, reduce data processing lead times and minimize human error.
10. Use online survey tools to spot new trends.
How can you stay ahead of the competition? Benefit from the wisdom of the masses by asking them for their ideas and spot patterns in their feedback. Integrate online surveys into your ongoing email marketing campaigns to learn more about how customers engage with your company. Spotting trends ahead of competition can offer your small business a significant market advantage.
Online survey tools offer small businesses a quick, easy, automated, and affordable way to leverage market research and work smarter. Gather data to improve decision making and indirectly impact sales.
Disclosure: This article is brought to you by SurveyAct and YFS Magazine receives compensation from SurveyAct for sharing our views in this article, however the views expressed here are solely ours, not SurveyAct’s.
Photo Credit: © Vladimir Voronin
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