Targeting a qualified audience in marketing strategies can be a difficult task.

Online Surveys

Kelly “Rags” Ragland is owner and operator of Rags to Stitches Productions, a holistic advertising-specialty company providing a range of services from web design and development to customized apparel.

Targeting a qualified audience in marketing strategies can be a difficult task. You may like to know what section of the local newspaper the majority of potential customers read before placing an ad, or perhaps what radio programs they may listen to in order to purchase some advertising air time. If you are looking for answers like these, consider the use of a survey.

A survey or poll can easily be setup and added to your website, or, for those not on the web, even created in a Word processing program and sent out. These surveys provide feedback to analyze and hopefully give a better idea of where to focus efforts to keep current customers happy, and to target potential customers as well.

One good start, for example, would be to send all existing customers a postcard, marketing piece or email encouraging them to take the survey. Offering some sort of prize or discount coupon as an incentive and a “thank you” for taking the time to answer a few questions could very well increase the amount of results received. Polling existing customers provides answers about what products and services they have been pleased with, what services may need improvement and more. Apply the results to the way you do business and everyone wins.

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Ideas for the type of questions you ask in your survey are almost endless. If you asked what local restaurant they most frequent for instance, you might look into advertising on that particular restaurant’s placemats or see about placing some brochures in their lobby.

Knowing how many use the yellow pages for finding products and services as opposed to the Internet will help to better focus advertising dollars—be it a website or print ad. Find out what sections of the newspaper they read and how often. Find out what TV shows they watch. Anywhere and everywhere, anything and everything that might give you a better idea of where you might be able to target more customers and get the most from advertising efforts.

Try to get some basic demographics as well such as age, the size of their company, their role in the company (i.e. authorized for purchasing) and even how they found you. Ask what their hobbies are. For instance, if 90 percent of customers play golf often, sponsoring a hole in the next local golf tournament could generate new business. Think creatively and find out the details that can help you better understand your target audience.

I might also suggest that the survey be as much of a selection process as possible rather than accepting just any answer at all. By providing a list of answers from which to choose, you can limit the variety of results received and better analyze them. For example the question “what type of dress shirt do you prefer?” might have them select from a list of garments you provide or have sourced, giving you the definitive answer you were looking for. A secondary choice might ask about color preferences, giving you a better idea of what is popular.

Online surveys

There are many ways to create a survey, but online surveys are easy and fast for a user to take at their convenience. That, in turn, increases the chance that people will take the survey, and makes the survey easily modifiable and efficient.

Using an online survey allows users to find out what people are looking for, what they may want, or even what products they might be interested in purchasing in the future. Change it the next week to a different survey while promoting those very items on your website.

If you do not have a website but still want to utilize the Internet for the convenience factor, create a survey in a Word processor or an email to send out. The speed and convenience of using the computer rather than printing, mailing and hoping that people will actually take the survey can make or break the results you are seeking.

Finally, there are a few websites that allow users to setup an online survey using their servers. The free offers will usually include some sort of banner advertising, which you may find unappealing or unprofessional. Choose these carefully and make sure you aren’t possibly getting customers into something they may not want, such as submitting their email address to someone besides your company, or any privacy concerns that may not cater to your audience. Free isn’t always great.

So, what subjects on the Internet marketing issue interest you? Feel free to drop me an email with your answer, as well as any questions you might have about surveys. Knowing your customers as well as being able to better identify your potential customers can always lead to more sales success. Good luck!