Online Surveys, Part 2: Pump Up Your Results by E-Mail

Need to take your target market’s pulse? As we mentioned in our last column, online surveys give marketing professionals a fast, easy, and effective tool for finding out what makes their audience tick.

Here’s an illuminating case study that came our way. It proves great marketing research can be done on a small budget.

Membership Survey Yields 47.4 Percent Response

“We wanted to provide our membership with a great experience from day one,” says University of North Carolina Wellness Center Executive Director Bob Stedman about the survey sent prior to the opening of UNC’s Wellness Center at Meadowmont.

“We chose an email-based survey over a traditional mail version because of the cost savings, the fast execution, and the likelihood for a much higher response rate,” Lynne Cole, director of sales and marketing, told us.

The email survey was sent to 90 percent of members (800-plus people) who had agreed to receive email from the Wellness Center. It included over 20 questions intended to help gauge staffing requirements for peak hours and determine what activities to put into place. Customer-service questions asked how the member would prefer to be addressed (formally or by first name or nickname) and what kind of music they like.

What is great about the survey is the questions were phrased in such a way respondents could clearly tell their answers would enhance their experience of the Wellness Center. Anyone who answered the survey by deadline was entered into a drawing for a free warm-up suit, aerobic shoes, or gym bag — great incentives for people embarking on a new fitness experience.

The Wellness Center enlisted BrontoMail to create a Web-based version of the survey and handle distribution. Within the email survey, the Wellness Center offered a link to a Web-based version. Members with the ability only to read text messages could thus fill out the survey via their browser. The center also distributed a paper-based survey via traditional mail to members who had not provided email addresses.

With expectations of a 10-15 percent response rate, the Wellness Center instead saw a whopping 47.4 percent response rate for the email survey. Unlike traditional mail surveys, which can take a month or longer to complete, the email results were collected over one week. The majority were completed and returned in the first 72 hours. Results could be viewed in real time via an online tracking report. A summary analysis of survey results was turned over to the Wellness Center within a day.

Total cost for the email based survey was approximately $1,450, including $1,000 for the survey design and $450 a month for a three-month subscription to BrontoMail’s email marketing solution. The Wellness Center estimates it would have cost between $3,000 and $5,000 to execute the survey through traditional mail.

That doesn’t take into consideration traditionally low response rates for paper surveys. A cost-per-response metric highlights this point. The email based responses cost approximately $4 each, while traditional mail responses (assuming a 10 percent response rate) would have cost $40-$60 per response.

The immediacy of the survey results gave the Wellness Center the ability to allocate staffing and resources before opening the facility. Management could forecast peak hours, whether water aerobics would be more popular than yoga, and what kind of instructors they needed to hire. The email survey helped the Wellness Center save even more money by providing marketing intelligence needed to optimize resources.

“For organizations like ours, there is a great opportunity to streamline business processes — including surveying customers — by utilizing the power of email,” Bob told us, “This was our first foray into email-based surveys, and we found it to be a straight-forward and efficient process.”

Getting pumped about the potential of online surveys? More case studies to come! If you have any stories and results to share, send them along to Karen.

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