There can be a lot of value to doing industry survey marketing, both for generating content and for generating quality leads. A well run survey marketing campaign is going to do a great job at both of these things however, it can be a challenge to get people to respond to questionnaires. Shorter surveys often don’t give enough results to be interesting, but longer surveys are almost impossible to get filled out. Marketers will often resort to the “If you fill out our survey, we’ll mail you a $25 Amazon gift card” as a method of solving this problem. However, doing this is going to dramatically skew your results, and could make them near-worthless.

So whats the problem?

A bored low-level manager is going to jump at a $5, $10, or $25 gift card, while C-level level execs and VPs often won’t be won over with anything short of a free Apple watch for filling out a 10 minute survey. So, keep in mind whenever you see “state of the industry” results what you’re probably seeing is the “state of the bored managers within the industry”.

So what’s a marketer to do? The truth is, there is no perfect answer. However, there are some things you can do to make it better.

Make it better

1) Be willing to pony up the cash- If you can pay around $100 per survey response, and keep surveys to less than 10 minutes to fill out, there is a good chance you’ll be able to attract most potential targets. Execs at F500’s might still not respond, but unless that’s the only target in your audience, you’re good to go.

2) Go for quality over quantity- Instead of focusing on hitting statistical significance (since most of this isn’t for academic journals but instead for infographics and newsletters) spend enough time and money to attract responses from a very known and targeted small group. If you don’t have these contacts already in your database, consider a 2-stage survey. Promise a very lucrative (Free Apple Watch for survey completion!) clearly stating it is for qualified leads. Use the first page of the survey to determine a fit, and manually review the submissions for the leads you are looking for. Ask for an email, name, and position, and actually hand check the leads you invite to complete the full survey. Instead of surveying hundreds of leads, look at getting a few dozen responses at most, custom picked to be what you’re looking for.

3) Set quotas- Depending on how you’re going to package the final results, be sure to set limits to how many prospects from each role/level/industry you will accept. Again, the two-stage survey can be a great asset for still trying to maximize your sample group size without going overboard on a certain demographic profile.

4) Get persuasive- If you’ve got a sales development team who has the time, have them place a call to potential survey responsdents in advance, “It would be a huge help to me if you could fill out the survey I’m going to send over to you”. Check out some of the tips in the book Yes! for some great ideas at getting people to respond to your messaging.

Don’t lose hope! Survey marketing is great content tool, can get some good PR traction if you turn up some interesting results, and follow ups to the survey are a great chance to personally engage with leads while delivering the incentive for completing the survey. Don’t EVER simply email a redemption code out to someone, you’re missing out on an opportunity to have a very positive personal interaction with a lead. If your sales team isn’t interested in helping deliver the prizes, get a new sales team.

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