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Online surveys represent potential gold mine of customer data

As companies look to gather more information about their growing customer bases, they may find that simply recording the results of each face-to-face interaction is not enough. The larger a company grows, the more difficult it becomes to keep a comprehensive bank of information on each regular patron. Data collection then becomes important.

There will be some situations where customers are more than happy to provide information about themselves voluntarily. When working with a client base that's young and tech-savvy, you're probably connecting with these people regularly using mobile apps and social media networks, so these individuals are sharing information all the time. There might be other situations, however, where people are reluctant to share any data that might be of use to you. In these scenarios, it's imperative that businesses take initiative and aggressively pursue data themselves.

One way to do this is with online surveys. If you regularly connect with consumers via email marketing messages, you can send them questionnaires that ask for their contact information, spending habits, tastes and preferences.

When used effectively, surveys represent a potential gold mine for customer information. A company can use these resources to collect as much knowledge as possible. From there, it's a matter of effective information management, careful attention to data quality and passion for achieving real results.

According to Business 2 Community, surveys can be a tremendous asset to any organization that's reliant upon data. Liga Bizune, a marketing blogger and public relations manager at Mailigen, believes that collecting information by polling people can be useful to a variety of organizations.

"The online survey is one of the marketer's best and cost effective tools, if properly used," Bizune stated. "The data gathered by online surveys can provide your business with valuable insights into the thinking processes of customers. It can also enable you to fine-tune and refine your product offerings. A survey can, dare I say it, even help decision makers make the right choices for your business' future."

Surveys represent a valuable resource for any business that cares about data mining. When collecting information, these organizations have a few questions to consider.

Write surveys in-house, or outsource it?
There are two different ways to disseminate surveys online - either businesses can write their own polls and send them out in marketing emails, or they can rely on outside help for the project. For companies that lack the technical expertise to handle the process, outsourcing surveys might be the way to go.

What information matters most?
When companies send out surveys to gauge customers' opinions, they need to make sure they're targeting the right information. They should define in advance - what exactly are they trying to figure out? Then, they should make sure to tailor their questions to the exact elements they're looking to investigate.

How will people engage?
After writing the perfect survey, the next step is to make sure people take it. These days, companies have a variety of technology options available for connecting with people and gauging their opinions. They may decide to send emails, or they may opt instead to connect via social media pages or use mobile apps. The choice is theirs.

What about analyzing data?
Last but not least: Once surveys are completed and data is collected, organizations need to analyze it. This requires not only a smart collection strategy and a high level of attention to data quality, but also a commitment to critical thinking about data and what it means. Collecting information is only the first step - taking action is the ultimate goal.