Ask a Question, Acquire a Customer

People love to test their knowledge. As a long-time “JEOPARDY!” viewer, I’m an active participant in answering the questions along with the on-air contestants. As an online marketer, I know understanding this consumer emotion is important. Respondents who test their intellectual acumen are actively involved.

Economist.com understands this consumer behavior as well. It’s dedicated space at the bottom of its home page to an “Infrequently Asked Questions” quiz that reinforces its brand and involves readers with its content. The quiz is so popular, The Economist published a book of these brainteasers and added other quizzes to the site.

This concept can drive new registrants and qualified leads to a sites, too. A colleague used trivia questions within his online advertising to drive new registrants to a game site. People always want to know whether they got the right answer.

To engage visitors, news sites have regular polls where respondents can see how their answers compare. Note, however, these mini-surveys often aren’t statistically valid. Participants may retake the quiz repeatedly to influence results.

Extending this concept, online market research questions can engage potential customers. By market research, I mean polling users in a way they find entertaining. Initially, involve them in topics they are very interested in. Questionnaires must engage potential customers and make the process fun. Think customer-centric marketing.

Eversave uses online questionnaires to generate leads. Eversave’s respondents receive brand name samples and coupons. A survey may start by asking, “Who will be eliminated from ‘The Bachelor’ this week?” Answering this question leads respondents through a series of questions that go from simply fun to gathering information about the customers’ buying behavior to an ultimate offer.

“When done correctly, polling is one of the best vehicles for generating leads. Instead of guessing at what someone wants to sign up for, they tell us,” said Jere Doyle, Eversave’s CEO. “Our members see only the offers they want and we see our conversion rates increase.”

Depending on the topic, questions, product category, and targeting, Eversave’s highly involved respondents yield response rates from 0.75 percent to over 10.00 percent. (See sample questions and flow here.)

Leads generated by online surveys drive not only online but also offline sales, an important use of online marketing. When using online-generated leads to drive offline traffic and sales, code coupons to ensure you can measure the results.

Use online surveys to:

  • Drive new visitors to the site. Engage potential customers by using a question in online advertising. If intrigued, surfers will click through to check the answer or compare their opinion to survey results. The customer benefit is seeing the answer. Consider using tailored landing pages to track results.

  • Build and extend your email database. Use online surveys to connect with visitors and encourage them to register for your email newsletter. Adapt this approach to gather additional information about your existing email list. For best results, newsletter content should be consistent with survey questions.
  • Generate leads for other services, online and off-. Use surveys to qualify potential customers and gather contact information. Remember to reward customers for their time and contact information. This could be a coupon, additional information, or a product sample.
  • Gather market research. Ensure statistically valid surveys by selecting respondents randomly and not disclosing results before they’re compiled. Business-to-business (B2B) marketers often distribute the compiled survey results to participants to reward responders.

Adhere to email best practices and CAN-SPAM. It’s the law and will ensure potential customers understand what they’re opting in to. They should feel your firm is acting in good faith. Don’t harm your brand by misleading customers.

Also, test different questions, placements, and question sequences to determine which yields the best leads.

Analyze online surveys by:

  • Measuring response rate. Determine how many people respond by source. Separate responses by email, on-site postings, and external advertising (including ads and search). To track on-site leads, measure which pages and positioning yield the best results. For external advertising, consider using tailored landing pages to help tracking.

    Response rate = responses/email messages, page views, or impressions

  • Examining noncompleters. Track the number of respondents who don’t complete the survey and where they dropped out. Questions may need to be revised. If respondents complete the survey without giving any contact information, consider whether too much information is asked for upfront without providing value to respondents. Consider using an exit pop-up to ask for feedback from noncompleters.
  • Determining revenue per lead by source. Measure which sources (email list, Web site, Web page, pop-ups, etc.) and questions generate the best results.

    Revenue per lead = total revenue generated/number of initial responses within source category

  • Determine cost per lead by source. Determine which sources (email list, Web site, Web page, pop-ups, etc.) and questions yield the most cost-effective results. Remember, costs must be assessed relative to revenue generated and customer lifetime value. (Note: Marketing costs include advertising and related marketing expense. This isn’t a fully loaded cost analysis.)

    Cost per lead = total marketing costs/number of initial responses within source category

Using surveys to engage customers adds another tool to your marketing arsenal. By coding coupons or leads, you can measure the offline effect of this promotion. It allows you to find out more about current and potential customers in a win-win way.

To keep people responding, make questions fun and rewarding. Customers need to feel the engagement is entertaining and provides value. Remember, consumers’ time is their scarcest commodity. Your survey and Web site are just a click away from your competitors’.

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