The Lean Marketer Blog

Data draws attention, so let’s create some with surveys!

People love numbers. Data-driven PR is proven to generate more media hits than traditional business-oriented PR. Listeners’ ears perk up for top-10 lists, size comparisons…numbers will almost always get attention.

But what if we don’t have any data worth sharing, what’s a marketer to do? Create some, of course! No, not out of thin air… 🙂 It’s actually pretty easy to generate new data through original research.

In the case of our client Applango, an Enterprise SaaS monitoring startup, we were looking for an attention-getter for the enterprise IT market. We realized that even though everyone’s talking about SaaS these days, no one really knew how many SaaS applications medium- to large-sized enterprises are using, and how big their spend is. So we decided to look for a way to find out.

We thought about creating a survey and trying to get people to respond via social networks, but we wanted the information quickly and were skeptical that we’d be able to generate a meaningful number of responses just through our own contacts and LinkedIn groups. So we decided to use SurveyMonkey, since they have an audience panel of IT decision makers.

Within just a few days, SurveyMonkey was able to get 50 qualified respondents to the Applango survey. Applango’s CEO Daniel Sarfati presented the results of the survey in a webinar on SaaS Sticker Shock. And SurveyMonkey decided to publish a case study about it earlier this week.

Based on this and other surveys that I’ve been involved in, here are a few points to keep in mind for the next time you run a survey:

  • Focus clearly on who is a qualified respondent. Try to narrow it down based on demographics. For consumers this would be the relevant age, gender, income level, etc. For businesses this would be size of company, location, job title, and in Applango’s case, respondents needed to be using a minimum number of SaaS applications.
  • To figure out what questions to ask, work backwards. Envision your best possible outcome marketing-wise, and how you’d graph it or explain it. Then think of what questions you need to ask in order to achieve that.
  • Test out your questions in advance with friends, family members, and if at all possible, some people in your target audience. Make sure there is no ambiguity in either the questions or the answers. Each question should ask only ONE thing. Once your survey is running, you can’t go back and edit your questions, so they have to be perfect the first time.
  • Don’t worry if the results surprise you. This actually is a positive thing. It means they will probably surprise your audience as well, and generate even more attention.
  • The cost to run a survey doesn’t have to be high. Sometimes a little legwork on your side can save thousands of dollars, but consider that sometimes for a very reasonable investment you can get exactly what you need by turning to a professional, and it’s money well spent.
Tell us about your experiences with surveys in the comments.
Gorgeous image thanks to Flickr user Mark Morgan Trinidad A


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