Do you struggle with email opt-ins and conversion rates? Do you take basic information about your audience and make your best guess when it comes to creating new content and products?
In this post, we’re going to explore audience surveys and the various ways you can improve them to increase completion rates.
What are audience surveys?
Surveys come in a variety of formats and serve a variety of purposes, but each one is designed to reveal key data on a given topic based on the way respondents answer each question within the survey.
Audience surveys are no different in that they come in different formats and give you greater insight on your audience, business and niche as a whole. You can use them to reveal problems your audience is having, topics your business should be focusing on, how well your content and products are being received, and more.
If you want to achieve these results, you need to develop a few things first, your goals chief among them.
Which types of surveys should you use for audience research?
There are a lot of goals data from audience surveys can help you navigate and even achieve. You can discover your audience’s biggest problems and deliver solutions through content and products.
You can learn the level of experience members of your audience have in your niche, which will help you determine how advanced your content should be. You can even uncover statistics about your audience that affect the prices you charge, language you use and even editorial schedule you follow.
As you read through this section, think about what you’d like to learn from your audience and how you can use what you learn to make fundamental changes to the way you run your business.
A poll with a single, multiple-choice question and two to five choices is a highly effective yet simple way to get a definitive answer from your audience. The best use of this survey type is to determine where your audience is at in your niche.
Pat Flynn uses this method on his site Smart Passive Income where he teaches new and curious entrepreneurs about online business. With the help of RightMessage and Ryan Levesque’s Ask formula, Pat uses a single question to learn how much his audience earns from their businesses.
The poll is available on all pages of his site, allowing him to collect answers from new and returning visitors alike.
This one question even changed the way he approached his business in 2015. While he was creating content about advanced marketing strategies, he discovered the majority of his audience hadn’t even started an online business and the majority of the ones that did hadn’t even earned $500.
You can use this same format and use the results to make key business decisions in regards to content and email segmentation.
Note: While RightMessage is a great tool, it can get pricey. Something similar can be achieved with a tool called ConvertBox.
A simple way to consistently receive insight from your audience about the problems their experiencing is to ask them. You can do this with autoresponders and the addition of two simple emails to your welcome email series.
One should ask new subscribers what their biggest problems are. The second should be sent after subscribers have been on your list for quite some time, such as a year. By sending the email a second time at a later point in their journey, you can discover any new problems they’re having.
Preface this question with a short story about a problem you’ve experienced as a way to demonstrate its importance.
Customer profiles are among the most popular types of surveys in existence. You may have even filled out a few yourself. They’re designed to help you learn about the different types of people in your audience.
You can discover the average salary your readers earn, how much education they’ve acquired, whether or not they have kids, their age and gender, and more.
This type of data can have major influence over the way you approach your business. If your audience is made up of high-earning college graduates, you’ll likely want to raise your prices to suit their expectations.
Similarly, if the majority of your audience is married with kids, you’ll need to plan your editorial, email and product launch schedule around the fact that your customer base is incredibly busy and has more important priorities to worry about.
Content and product research
You can use data from the first two survey types along with your own analytics to determine which topics your audience cares about most, but that’s only a tiny piece of the puzzle. You also need to determine how to approach those topics.
Every audience is different. One may prefer written content and ebooks while another may prefer videos and interactive courses.
You should always use beta products and content to determine if new ventures are worth pursuing, but real answers from your audience about which types of content they prefer and how they prefer to learn can be incredibly useful to your overall business strategy.
This is another common survey type. You’ve probably seen them after purchasing a product, getting in touch with a company’s customer service team and unsubscribing from someone’s email list.
You can use it in the same way to get real feedback from your audience on content, products, your approach to email marketing and more.
Which types of questions should you use in your surveys?
Here’s a quick roundup of the types of questions you can add to your surveys:
- Multiple Choice – A question with two or more choices where respondents are only able to select one.
- Checkboxes – A question where respondents are allowed to select more than one option.
- Yes or No – Similar to a multiple-choice question, but this one is framed as a yes-or-no question where respondents are only able to select yes or no. You can also add “both” as a third option when appropriate.
- Open Ended – A question that has a text field or box in place of choices where respondents can input any answer they please.
- Scale – A question where respondents are asked to base their answers on scales, such as 0 to 10, Extremely Unlikely to Extremely Likely, etc.
How to make your surveys more engaging
There are a number of different things that affect how likely your readers are to be interested in your surveys as well as how likely they are to finish them. It can depend on the tools you use, where you choose to host your surveys, the way they’re written and how you promote them.
Choosing the right survey tools
The survey tools you choose to use will depend on the types of surveys you want to create, where you want to host them and the budget you’re working with.
The easiest and cheapest way to run a survey is to do so through your email list. Some email marketing services have internal tools that allow you to insert polls and surveys in your emails.
Here are a few tools you can use if not:
- Thrive Quiz Builder – An intuitive quiz builder for WordPress that makes it easy to build beautiful, interactive quizzes and surveys.
- ConvertBox – A simple way to survey your audience while using the data to segment subscribers automatically. Also includes opt-in forms.
- Typeform – A popular survey and form platform with plenty of marketing features built in. They have numerous templates to choose from as well.
- Google Forms – A free form and survey platform offered by Google through Google Drive and G Suite.
- SurveyPlanet – Another popular survey platform that offers numerous survey types and unlimited surveys and responses for free.
- Quiz and Survey Master – A freemium quiz and survey plugin that makes it easy to create and host surveys through WordPress.
Choosing where to host your surveys
There are three places you can use to host your surveys: your site, your email list or a survey platform. Some survey tools require you to use your site while others require you to use their own hosted survey pages, which can make this decision much easier. Some tools, on the other hand, allow you to choose between the two.
Your site may be the most effective place. It’s familiar to your audience, and you can use the same opt-in tools you always use if you’ll be promoting your surveys outside of your email list.
Plus, it gives you the option to use a tool like Thrive Quiz Builder, which offers one of the simplest ways to create fun and engaging surveys directly in WordPress.
Some survey tools integrate with email marketing services, but this typically involves inserting special links to surveys in your emails. You should save your email list for simple, one-question surveys.
Use hosted survey pages if the tool you want to use doesn’t allow you to embed surveys on your site or if you haven’t created a blog, and need a way to conduct audience research before you start creating content.
You could also create a custom landing page to embed your surveys on.
Creating questions and making your surveys more interesting
In general, the shorter your survey, the better. Between your readers’ busy schedules and the sheer amount of things there are to do on the internet these days, longer surveys have smaller completion rates.
Does that mean you should limit your survey to a strict 10 questions or less? Not necessarily. Consider the weight behind the questions you ask your audience. A question like “which platform did you use to build your website” is easy to answer. However, if your audience is hit with something along the lines of “do you trust sponsored reviews,” they’ll likely need a moment to consider their response.
When you think of your survey in these terms, you’re better off considering how long it’ll take respondents to complete each question rather than how many questions it should contain. Again, a shorter completion time is better overall.
You should also choose which questions respondents are required to answer carefully. Multiple-choice, yes or no, and checkbox questions are fine as requirements, but open-ended questions presented with nothing but a longform textbox should be optional. It’ll encourage respondents to complete your surveys.
If you want to make an open-ended question a requirement, your survey tool should have a feature that allows you to specify how long respondents’ answers are allowed to be. Make the field shorter in this case.
Adding flare to your surveys
The majority of the tools mentioned above have features that allow you to add engaging elements to your questions. Some have aesthetically-pleasing UI’s and allow you to customize multiple styles. Some allow you to add images to questions. Image-based choices are included as well.
There are a couple of different routes you can choose when it comes to creating your questions. Simple questions written to be as short as possible may be the key to increasing completion times, but you may want to experiment with personalization as well.
Authenticity is a powerful trait to have in business. This is especially true in the digital era where consumers are able to connect with the companies and services they buy from through comment sections, emails and social media.
You can use this trait to add brief stories summarized in a few sentences to some or all of your questions. It makes the most sense to save this tactic for harder questions and make simple, easy-to-answer questions as short as possible.
Lastly, you can gauge how experienced your readers are in a particular subject while making things fun and more interesting by turning your survey into a quiz with right and wrong answers.
The last piece of the audience survey puzzle is figuring out ways to promote it. You can use your email list, blog posts, free ebooks and email courses, and even your entire site when you use tools like RightMessage and Typeform.
It’s important for you to provide value consistently to your audience prior to promoting a survey to them. They’ll be much more likely to return the favor if you’ve continuously given them reasons to trust you.
Once your results start coming through, you can use the data to create more effective segments in your audience, come up with new product ideas and fine tune your content marketing strategy.
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