Online surveys are giving marketing professionals dynamic tools to help measure, analyze, and grow their business. The latest Internet survey software provides valuable insights into how customers make decisions. It helps businesses make smarter choices about the four "P's" that determine success in the marketplace: product, price, placement, and promotion.
New Product Surveys: Design, Test, Design
Savvy business owners know that marketing should begin long before their products hit the stores. Marketing should begin with the product itself, and with an in-depth understanding customer's needs and preferences.
Powerful new questionnaire software gives businesses a revealing glimpse into the minds of potential customers. Market research surveys can help a business rethink product design, or maybe just fine tune it a bit. In simple terms, these surveys can help a business give people what they want.
New product surveys try to get at the perceived needs of customers. They ask questions like:
- How much cargo space do you need in your truck?
- How many watts does your backup power supply need to generate?
- How often do you drive on icy roads?
Questions like these can help a business decide if its product line meets the needs of potential customers, or if there are gaps in the line that need to be filled. Questionnaire software allows a business to sort responses by age, gender, location, income and many other variables. This enables a business to target products to the needs of specific market segments.
New product surveys also try to determine the benefits that are most important to customers. Take vitamins as an example. Are customers mainly interested in vitamins that will help them feel better or boost their memory or improve their heart health? Questionnaire software uses sophisticated ranking questions to help isolate the benefits that people care about most.
New product surveys also help a business learn what features are important to customers. If customers show little interest in a particular feature, a business may decide to offer it as an option rather than a standard part of its products. On the other hand, if a feature shows up on a survey as being very popular, a business may decide to include it in all of its products, and emphasize it in its marketing campaign.
Conjoint Analysis: Examine the trade-offs that customers make when purchasing a product
Conjoint analysis serves many purposes in market research, but it is especially useful in making decisions about price. Here's how it works. Suppose a traveler is thinking about booking a hotel room. Two hotels next to each other offer rooms at the same price, but one hotel has an indoor pool and the other does not. If the traveler enjoys swimming, he will probably pick the hotel with the pool, since there is no difference in price.
Our traveler does a little more research and finds that the hotel that does not have a pool offers room service, which sounds wonderfully self-indulgent. Now our traveler has to make a decision. What does he value more, a pool or room service? Suppose our traveler then learners that the hotel with the pool is offering a ten percent discount. Now things are really getting complicated.
Conjoint analysis enables a marketer to examine the trade-offs that customers make in buying a product. It allows a marketer to see which features of a product are most valuable to customers and how much extra they are willing to pay for a particular feature or combination of features. The purpose of conjoint analysis is to determine what combination of variables is most important in a customer's decision to buy.
Conjoint analysis also helps a marketer set an optimal price for a product. It allows the marketer to see the point at which price outweighs benefits in the consumer's mind. Although this type of analysis sounds complicated, internet survey software makes it simple. The most sophisticated systems enable marketers to create online surveys using an intuitive wizard interface. They present the results of the analysis in a variety of formats that help marketing professionals make informed decisions.
Placement and the Purchase Process
Market research surveys can also provide valuable information about how people prefer to shop. Do they typically buy certain types of products online, or do they prefer to visit a store? If they like to shop in person, do they prefer no-frills discount stores or stores that offer advice and greater customer service? Do they buy from catalogs? If they do, do they mail in their orders or use the catalog to shop online?
The purpose of all these questions is to discover how people feel about the purchasing experience. Sometimes two companies might offer essentially identical products, but one company is much more successful because it provides customers the kind of purchasing experience that find comfortable. For example, some car dealers advertise that they do not haggle over price. They know that some people are uncomfortable with the sort of price negotiations that are common in the car business.
Purchase process surveys need to focus on specific types of products. For example, some people routinely buy DVDs in discount stores, but they would go to an electronics store to buy a DVD player. A well-designed online survey can isolate customers' purchasing preferences for different types of products.
Purchase process surveys can also help businesses improve customer service. For example, a survey might reveal that customers find a business's website difficult to navigate. Businesses can use this type of data to make the purchasing experience more pleasant and convenient for customers.
Promotion: Advertising Effectiveness Surveys
Advertising effectiveness surveys help a business make the most of its advertising budget.
Advertising decisions have become extremely complicated. Many people – especially young people – spend more time online than watching television. But are online ads as effective as TV ads? And if a business decides to use TV ads, which of the hundreds of cable channels should it focus on? And what about the print media and outdoor advertising? What place do they have in a well-planned marketing campaign?
The answers to all these questions are different for different products and for different segments of the market. Marketers need reliable data to make informed decisions about their advertising budgets. Fortunately, online surveys provide an economic way to gather and analyze this information.
An advertising effectiveness survey can determine how consumers react to an ad, what they remember, how they felt afterwards, how the ad can be improved, and if the ad's intention was served. A sequence of surveys can measure brand awareness before, during, and after a campaign. As with other types of online surveys, the results can be analyzed by age, gender, income, and other variables to ensure that ads are reaching the correct demographic group.
Some businesses rely on sales performance to gauge the effectiveness of their advertising. They assume that if they are doing better than their competitors, their ads must be working. This approach ignores the fact that sales are determined by a multitude of factors, including price, quality, and competition. A business may be doing well, but more effective ads could make its performance even better.
Boosting the Bottom Line
Online market research surveys are an inexpensive, economic way to improve every phase of marketing: product design, placement, positioning and promotion. Surveys can tell a business what it is doing wrong or right and how it can do better. An investment in a well-planned online survey can pay for itself many times over in increased sales and a healthier bottom line.