Marketing December 12, 2018 Last updated December 9th, 2018 350 Reads share

The Secret Weapon of Content Marketing: Surveys

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As all content marketers know, statistics and analytics can be useful tools in understanding your target audiences’ preferences. Of course, the reality is always more complex than that. Content marketing as a whole is becoming more in tune with audience feedback, but the trick is figuring out what feedback will further your marketing goals.  

The easiest way to find out exactly what an audience cares about is to ask them directly. Surveys give content marketing professionals a powerful method for discovering what their audience truly cares about. Marketing works best if the audience connects with it on an emotional level, and a well-placed survey can offer valuable insight into the minds of the audience.

What You Can Learn from Surveys

Before you set up your survey, start by deciding exactly what you’d like to get from the results. Determining your goals and clearly outlining what you want to accomplish with the results will serve to frame the rest of the process. Are you mainly concerned with understanding how the customers use your website? Or about what is going through their mind when they make a purchasing decision? Maybe you haven’t been seeing the level of return business you expected, so finding out more about customer satisfaction is your primary concern.

Occasionally, there is so much information you would ideally learn that it can be difficult to narrow your approach to something workable. Even once you have settled on two or three key targets, it can still be daunting to figure out what information will provide those answers and which questions to ask to get that information. When in doubt, start with the basics. If your main goal is to know why you have lots of traffic reaching your landing page but very few people delving farther into your site, then you might ask something specific about that page, or have them rate it for simplicity, visual appeal or information provided. Sometimes it can be helpful to browse generic question lists just to get some ideas.

Using Surveys to Enhance Understanding

When it comes to creating the survey itself, the first step is to define the parameters of the audience that the survey will target. The audience for the survey should be segmented using their defining characteristics as they relate to the service or product that the marketing campaign is about. Throw out any audience characteristics that don’t apply to the product or service. For example, if the marketing campaign is focused on selling softballs to teenagers, then the target audience’s religious beliefs probably won’t have any effect on whether the marketing campaign’s messaging connects with them or not.

Asking about their extracurricular activities will probably be better for finding out how interested they are in buying a new softball. The shared characteristics of an audience will guide the questions for the survey and a better understanding of the audience will make the survey questions more effectively.

Creating Insightful Questions

Once the survey’s target audience is clearly defined, the next order of business is creating questions that address the key topics. Then, ideally, the answers will give the marketing campaign the ammunition it needs to find messaging that resonates with your target audience.

The real purpose of the survey is to find the gap between what the audience desires and what is currently available to them. The quickest way to do this is by asking them about the challenges they face in the specific area that the marketing campaign is positioned to address.

Avoid yes or no questions at all costs. These questions need to be specific. Focus in on what you know about the audience to find the best way to phrase the questions. Survey questions should be written in a tone that is familiar to those who will answer it.

If the questions are well thought out, a survey can reach into the audience’s mind and pull out insights that can be used to connect with them on a raw, emotional level. Marketing campaigns that succeed in accurately reflecting an audience’s desires can do wonders for creating a loyal client base.

Maintaining an Engaged Audience

An important side effect of administering marketing surveys is the likely increase in audience engagement.  Surveys make people feel like they have a voice in the company, and they become attached to the brand. Content marketers should internalize this so they can follow up and keep the audience engaged.

An engaged audience is a committed audience, and an effective survey should lead to a marketing campaign that pulls them in and keeps them receptive to new products. Surveys are powerful weapons in the world of content marketing, but only if they are used with care and consideration for the audience’s convictions.

Making Use of the Results

Collecting customer opinions in the form of data really only become useful if you have a clear plan for how to use it afterward. Analyzing the data, summarizing the results, and determining a plan of action based on the findings should be the end game of any survey.

The results should be used to modify your content to better match the interests of your clientele. At times, a survey can shed serious light on the overall performance of your website, pointing you to changes that will lead to greater usability and customer satisfaction. Or maybe your goal is more direct, to more specifically target your marketing ideas based on the level of interest shown by different groups in the survey. The bottom line is that the goals you outlined in step number one need to be the focus all the way through, with the intention of accomplishing them by the end of the process.

Measuring Success

Surveys are an excellent tool that allows you to learn very specific things about your audience, your clients, and the effectiveness of your current business practices. They are relatively simple to utilize, typically aren’t too labor-intense, and generate a lot of data in a short period of time.

However, while it may sound repetitive, unless the data generated is thoroughly analyzed, and the results used to explicitly address the goals you set out to achieve, then you may be left with nothing more than interesting facts. The three pillars of successful surveys are setting targets, developing a survey to reach them, then implementing changes in response to the results; all three are necessary for a successful result.

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Elijah Masek-Kelly

Elijah Masek-Kelly

Elijah Masek-Kelly is the founder of Powerful Outreach, a PR outreach service designed to strategically engage and generate press for businesses. He has a long history as a writer and marketer, which has given him perspective on both pitching and receiving pitches.

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