How to Use Surveys to Reach B2B Business Goals

business surveyAs a marketer, you must have a clear understanding of your audience’s needs and interests to remain current, improve customer experience, and ultimately grow your business. Unfortunately, many businesses are working with an outdated or surface-level view of their customers.

But, we have a simple fix—surveys! Whether you realize it or not, marketers can use surveys to reach important business goals. Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!

1.    Surveys help marketers understand their target audience.

Surveys can reveal important details about your target audience. If you ask the right questions, you can then use customer response data to inform your most critical marketing activities. Let’s look at some examples:

Surveys for better buyer personas:

To create accurate buyer personas you must gather demographic, technographic, and firmographic data to better understand why customers make purchase decisions. Get as specific as possible to create realistic and accurate buyer personas. To do this, we recommend you ask questions that dig into customer pain points, goals, interests, values, and preferences. Example questions include:

  • What does a typical day look like for you?
  • What are your biggest challenges?
  • What is holding you back from X?
  • What’s your preferred method of X?
  • What are your ultimate career goals?

Surveys to support list segmentation:

The most successful email marketing programs depend on highly targeted email lists. Lists are often separated by demographic,  geographic, technographic, or behavioral data. But, the unfortunate reality is, you may not have every data point you need for optimal email segmentation. Fill in the gaps by asking survey questions, such as:

  • What is your job title?
  • What is your age?
  • Which gender do you identify most with?
  • Where do you live?
  • What is your highest qualification?
  • What is your annual income?
  • The last time you purchased X, what was the reason?
  • How do you feel about X?

Improve personalized marketing efforts:

In any given day, a person sees hundreds of branded messages. Personalization cuts through the information overload and provides customers with content they find personally relevant and interesting. As customers demand more personalized marketing experiences, it’s important to capture the data you need to customize services, content, and communications for each customer’s preferences. Otherwise, you risk losing customers to competitors who get personalization right. Improve personalization efforts by asking customers survey questions, such as:

  • What is your name?
  • What is your company?
  • Do you work within a specific industry?
  • What types of content do you prefer?
  • Do you have hobbies or interests outside of work?
  • What is your preferred method of communication?

Now, you can’t ask just any customer these questions and expect to see results. Instead, target this type of survey to only your most loyal, top-spending customers. Here’s why: Your best customers will provide you with the information most relevant to them—allowing you to scale your efforts and duplicate your success with similar audiences.

We recommend you distribute this type of survey on a channel or platform frequented by your customers. Think customer newsletters, product log in pages, customer-specific email sends. Be sure to ask questions that help you gauge each customers value—like how much have you spent on our products? Would you recommend our products to your colleagues? And, how many years have you been a customer? This will help you weed out less valuable customers.

2.    Surveys can help you gather product feedback.

Detailed product feedback can provide valuable insights as you update products and create new ones. The more feedback you collect, the more confident you can be that your newest products and features are exactly what the customer wants.

Luckily, it’s not hard to get product feedback from customers. In fact, a recent study shows 74% of consumers are either likely or very likely to respond to a brand’s request for specific product feedback (source).

Let’s explore some specific business applications that can benefit from this type of feedback:

New product development:

Be proactive and test new products out with current customers. Then gauge their reaction and make changes based on the information you collect. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What was your first reaction to the product?
  • What do you like most about this new product?
  • How does this product stack up to our other products you’ve tried?
  • What do you dislike about this new product?
  • What would you like us to improve about this new product?

Usability testing:

Usability is a major factor in the success of a product. Think about it: If users get stuck trying to perform a simple task, they will get frustrated quickly and abandon it altogether. For this reason, you must collect customer feedback to measure how user-friendly your product is. Find this information through survey questions, such as:

  • How easy is our product to use?
  • How easy is our product to navigate?
  • Were you able to find the information you needed while using our product?
  • How difficult do you find this task?
  • How confident are you that you completed the task successfully?

Product or feature improvement:

It’s a simple formula: The better your product works, the happier your customers will be. Rather than blindly changing features, gather feedback from real customers. Then find common complaints and suggestions in survey feedback to determine which product features to keep, remove, or tweak. But first, get this information by asking questions, like:

  • If you could change one thing about our product, what would it be and why?
  • What features do you like the best in our product?
  • What features do you like the least in our product?
  • How can we improve our product?
  • What do you find most frustrating about our product?

This particular type of survey should be geared toward customers who have purchased the specific product in question. Be sure to target customers who have been successful with a product and those who have had trouble with it. This will provide a range of data to uncover common frustrations or suggestions you may otherwise miss from surveying only one segment of your customer base.

Similar to our first point, these surveys should be placed or distributed through channels frequented by all types of customers.

3.    Use surveys to scale event attendance.

Fact: 36% of event marketers say their biggest challenge is increasing event registration (source). But, you can uncover valuable insights to drive attendance rates by conducting surveys before, during, and after professional events. Gathering feedback is a useful practice for any type of event, whether it’s an in-person conference, webinar, live stream, or social media chat. Here’s how this works:

Pre-event:

Use feedback from pre-event survey questions to inform your promotional efforts and tweak your upcoming event to fit attendee preferences. Example questions include:

  • Did you attend last year’s event?
  • What is your main reason for attending?
  • What are you hoping to learn?
  • How did you hear about this event?
  • What speakers are you most looking forward to seeing?
  • What kind of social activities would you like to see organized?

To get the most out of this type of survey, set up an automated email to send all attendees the pre-event survey as soon as they complete their registration.

Day of:

Ask questions during an event to break the ice, keep attendees engaged, and gather in-the-moment feedback to tailor the current event and events to come. Example questions include:

  • What has been your favorite experience of the event so far?
  • How many times have you attended this conference?
  • What would you like to see more of during the remainder of the event?
  • What sessions are you most excited for today?
  • How has the event lived up to your expectations so far?

Consider using a live poll, a Twitter hashtag, a dedicated app, or your event website to distribute this type of survey to attendees. For more general questions like the ones provided above, ask during breakfast or lunch break times, as attendees will be looking for something to do. For questions related to sessions, run a poll during event presentations to get real-time feedback on speakers, their presentation style, and subject matter.

Post-event:

Use post-event surveys to make future events even better and in turn, boost attendance rates. Example questions include:

  • Was this the first time you attended one of our events?
  • How would you rate your experience at our event?
  • What did you like about the event?
  • How do you think this event could be improved?
  • What did you dislike about the event?
  • How helpful was the content presented at the event?
  • How engaging was each speaker at the event?
  • Was the event too long, too short, or just about right?
  • Based on your experience at this event, how likely are you to attend this event in the future?
  • How likely are you to recommend our events to a friend/colleague?
  • What topics would you like to see covered at next year’s event?

Chances are, parts of your events will be a success, while others might not be so engaging. Collect attendee feedback while it’s still top of mind so you can plan an even better event down the road. To do this, email a follow-up survey to all attendees the day after the event.

It’s also important to reach out to registrants who didn’t make it—to ask them why they didn’t attend. Maybe it was the location, the travel expenses, or a conflict at work. Whatever the reason, these details can tell you if you need to make minor or major changes to future events.

4.    Surveys can help gauge public perception of your brand and company.

Your business is only as good as its perceived value to consumers. In a competitive marketplace, you must understand public perception of your company in order to improve your brand’s reputation and overall brand strategy. So how can businesses gauge public perception? You guessed it—surveys.

There are a number of ways you can use surveys to measure public perception. Let’s explore three examples:

Perception by audience segment:

There may be critical differences between key buyer personas and how they view your brand. Executives at larger companies, for instance, may have a more positive opinion of your brand than leadership at small to mid-size businesses. To understand how a particular audience segment perceives your products or services, ask questions like these:

  • What do you of think of our brand?
  • When you think of our brand, what comes to mind first?
  • How likely are you to recommend our brand?
  • Which of the following words describe our brand?
  • Of the words you’ve selected, how do you feel about each?
  • How would you describe our brand to a friend?
  • What kind of feelings do you experience when you think of our brand?

General brand feel:

How you market your company is one thing. What the people in your industry actually think of your brand or products is another. Surveys can help you find any inconsistencies and improve your reputation. Think about it: What do people within your industry say your company does? Is it positive or negative? Learn the answer to these questions by asking:

  • How familiar are you with our brand?
  • What services does our company provide?
  • When did you first hear about our brand?
  • How would you describe your opinion of our brand?
  • What one word would you use to describe our brand?
  • How does our brand make you feel?
  • How has your perception of our brand changed in the past three months?

Competitive analysis:

Without information about your direct competitors, how can you make your company better than those who sell similar products? The answer—you can’t.  Fortunately, surveys allow marketers to gather valuable market information to use as a benchmark. Sample questions include:

  • What company/brand do you prefer?
  • What brands come to mind in this product category?
  • Which of the following brands have you heard of?
  • Are these seen as high-end or low-cost products?

This type of survey should be directed to the general public within the scope of your specific industry. To find people within your industry, work with a contact database or survey provider. Then distribute your survey through email, social media, or have sales reps reach out to customers directly. Be sure to include qualifying questions at the start of the survey to ensure survey accuracy.

5.    Gather content feedback.

Audiences evolve over time. Content that once interested your target customers may now be outdated. And, not all of your customers have the same content preferences– someone early in the buying journey will have different content preferences than a prospect who is ready to make a purchase.

Surveys can reveal important insights into specific content preferences, such as subject matter, tone, and format. Use these insights to create and distribute more engaging content for every stage of the buying journey.

Subject matter:

What does your audience want to read about now? To answer this question, survey your target audience. Sample questions include:

  • What topics interest you the most?
  • What topics interest you the least?
  • How would you rank the following in terms of importance in the business content you read?
  • What information would you like our company to provide?

Tone:

The right tone in your content and communications can help you connect with your audience on a human level. Connections build trust. Trust drives sales. For this reason, you must not only determine if your audience likes what you’re saying but how you’re saying it. Ask these questions to gauge tone preferences:

  • What tone do you appreciate in our resources?
  • Do you prefer a formal or informal tone in business content?
  • Where do you go for industry news and analysis?
  • Is our content easy to understand?

Format:

Formatting is key when it comes to audience engagement—produce content that’s the wrong length or format and your audience will lose interest. Understand what your prospects and customers are most likely to engage with by asking questions like these:

  • What type of content are you most likely to engage with?
  • What type of content do you never engage with?
  • In terms of being the most memorable, what types of content stick with you the longest?
  • How long is the ideal e-book?
  • What’s your preferred way to consume content?

To reach the right audience with this type of survey, reach out to those who subscribe to your mailing list, visit your blog, or buy your products. Ask questions in the form of a multi-question survey or ask one at a time in the sidebar of your business website. Remember to get creative!

For a more in-depth look at how you can use customer data to improve your content strategy, check out the following article: Content Mapping for Marketing Success.

Final Thoughts on Using Customer Surveys to Reach Business Goals

In a competitive landscape, surveys can provide you with the data you need to stay ahead of your competitors. If you’ve never created a survey before, don’t worry! There are plenty of online survey tools available, such as Google Forms and Survey Monkey. Start with one of the available templates and customize it to your liking.

Keep in mind, surveys are just one method to obtain information on your target audience. To find more information on your ideal buyers, speak to a sales rep about ZoomInfo’s people information database today.