Wanted: Surveys of Surveys

We are bombarded with surveys. Buy a car, get a phone call asking for your opinions. Buy groceries, and the checker gives you the receipt and asks you to answer a few questions. Buy from an online retailer, you’re asked to review a product in a survey. It’s overdone, becoming intrusive and could result in a negative backlash …

Surveys, surveys, surveys ...We are bombarded with surveys. Buy a car, get a phone call asking for your opinions. Buy groceries, and the checker gives you the receipt and asks you to answer a few questions. Buy from an online retailer, you’re asked to review a product in a survey. It’s overdone, becoming intrusive and could result in a negative backlash from your customers.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook: My rabid dislike of surveys is no secret — my dentist recently sent me a survey after a 15 minute consult. Today, my bank sent me a survey for a 5 minute check deposit transaction at an ATM. This is very annoying.”

My friend’s Facebook comment opened up a litany of snark such as:

“I’ll have a survey for you tomorrow about the service provided by music librarians.”

“Hmm, I wonder what percentage of consumers feel the same way. But now I have no idea how to find out.”

“I’m waiting for SurveyMonkey to send me a survey to rate all of the surveys I have received.”

So maybe that’s what is needed: surveys of surveys. We’re fatiguing our customers with inane questions about their experience, and I suspect many customers roll their eyes thinking that even if they complained, no one will care. Although, that being said, hotels have surveyed me in the past and if I didn’t answer a 10 (on a 1-10 scale), I get an email asking what they could have done to have done better. Let’s face it: not every experience is a 10 and worthy of explaining why.

On the plus side, we can learn a great deal from surveys so we do a better job in the future. That’s smart.

And for some marketers, it’s a way to gauge how soon a person might make a new (or additional) purchase decision. With that information, emails, letters, and digital advertising can be deployed, using a nurture marketing strategy, to generate more sales. But there needs to be depth in the survey, so it’s genuine and doesn’t come off as patronizing.

My recommendations:

  1. The purpose of the survey is for your benefit, but the wording must always be all about your customer. Make sure the customer knows what’s in it for them.
  1. Distill your survey down to as few questions as possible. You’ll probably have more completions if it’s short and sweet.
  1. Offer an incentive for participation that your customer can use now. Sure, it’s nice to be entered into a drawing for something, but has your name ever been drawn?

(My new book, “Crack the Customer Mind Code” is available at the DirectMarketingIQ bookstore. Or download my free seven-step guide to help you align your messaging with how the primitive mind thinks. It’s titled “When You Need More Customers, This Is What You Do.” )

Bright Spots Few and Far Between According to New Online Advertising Spending Surveys

Online advertisers and marketers can rest on their laurels no more: A pair of surveys published earlier this week showed online advertising spending is not growing as fast as it has in the past — or as fast as it was expected to despite the dismal economy.

Online advertisers and marketers can rest on their laurels no more: A pair of surveys published earlier this week showed online advertising spending is not growing as fast as it has in the past — or as fast as it was expected to despite the dismal economy.

One report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, based on a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, showed that while 2008 Internet advertising revenues totaled a record $23.4 billion — exceeding 2007’s performance by 10.6 percent — it was the slowest growth rate since 2002.

The 2008 figure compares with $21.2 billion in 2007, when online ad revenue grew 26 percent over 2006. The data suggests the recession is having a serious impact on one of the few drivers of robust growth in media and advertising.

Moreover, the road ahead will be even slower. Revised projections by eMarketer indicate that U.S. online ad spending growth will halve in 2009, with just a 4.5 percent increase, to $24.5 billion, compared with a previous prediction of 8.9 percent growth.

But David Hallerman, a senior analyst at eMarketer, looks at the figures and sees a glass half full. In an eMarketer article earlier this week, he said that in this economy, “it has to be considered good times when U.S. online ad spending reaches record highs, as it did in Q4 2008 at $6.1 billion and as it will in 2009 at $24.5 billion.”

In addition, some online ad formats are faring better than others, according to the IAB. Search advertising is holding up relatively well at $10.5 billion for 2008, which is up 19.8 percent over last year. Digital video, though still a small overall contributor, more than doubled its revenue with an increase to $734 million from $324 million in 2007.

E-mail held steady, accounting for 2 percent of all digital advertising spend in both 2008 and 2007. In 2007, actual e-mail advertising revenue was $244 million; in 2008, it rose to $405 million.

As in 2007, retail, financial services, computing and automotive remained the four largest verticals among Internet advertisers in 2008. Consumer packaged goods, an industry vertical historically slow to embrace interactive advertising, notably increased its share of total Internet ad revenues by 60 percent over 2007.