At some point in every start-up company’s journey, they’ll use surveying their customers or potential customers as a business tool. Surveys can be used for market research, for research and development, or for connecting with your customers or clients. If you’re creative you can use all this information to your advantage. The question is, how do you do that?

How to Gather Survey Results Effectively

In order to use your survey results, you’ll need to get them first. Most people won’t complete a survey without some kind of incentive. You’ll find that even though some companies will provide a link to customer feedback with every purchase, or have customer comment cards scattered around the business’s location, most of the time they will go unused.

So how can you make sure you don’t fall into this category?

Know what your survey is for. Are you doing market research for a seed business? Are you trying to gauge interest on a new business line? Are you trying to figure out what your customers are looking for in your products? Knowing what the results are going to be used for will help you put together a survey that will get the answers you are looking for.

What can this affect?

  • Where you’re going to put a link to your survey or comment box.
  • What questions you’ll ask
  • How long will your survey be
  • What kind of sample size you’ll need
  • Can someone answer your survey multiple times

If you know what your survey is for, then you can start building your survey. Every question you put into your survey should serve a specific purpose. What will this information provide you? What insight can it give you? Will the information you gain from it change how you’ll do business or your product? Plan your survey in advance. You should know what information will be important and what will be arbitrary.

If you’re sure your survey is complete and ready to be sent out, the next thing that you’re going to have to figure out is where are you going to make your survey accessible? Depending on what your business is, if you’re a digital or physical business, there are different locations you can put your survey link. So how can you decide?

If you’re doing market research

  • If you’re a physical company, find local interest groups or forums where you can share your link. Make sure to include a description of your proposed business and really draw on the business’s values to really spark interest.
  • If you’re a digital company, you aren’t limited by location. You can put links in any interest group or forum that is connected to your business. Make sure not to spam any groups so as not to leave people with a bad taste in their mouth when they think of you.
  • If you prepared a questionnaire or comment card, bring them with you to marketing events and conferences related to your business. For example, if your business sells toothbrushes, you might want to go to dentistry conventions.

If you’re looking to expand your product or business line

  • If you’re an established business and you already have social media accounts, use them to your advantage. In fact, you should be using your social media accounts to your advantage anyways. Put the links up, you can even use them as teasers to perk the interest of the customers you already have and retain their attention.
  • If you’re a digital company, you can include links with your digital product or receipt. Make it apart of your purchase confirmation e-mail or on the finalize page on your website.
  • If you have a website, there are plenty of pages you can use to link to your survey to find out what your current customer base wants to see from your business, and what will help convert a higher number of potential customers.

There are other places you can place your survey link to gain the results you’re looking for.

What to Do with Your Results

Just like with every step of building your survey and gathering results, what to do with your survey results is dependent on what purpose you began with. Because of course, the purpose determines what you need to do with that information.

Market Research

If you used your survey for market research, you are probably writing a business plan or are presenting a pitch to investors. Business plans tend to end up being rather lengthy documents, usually sitting at at least twenty pages. When you have so much information coming at someone you’re trying to get excited about it, it can be overwhelming and often deterring.

In order to avoid that, you shouldn’t just lay the numbers out and hope they’ll get the math. Instead, turn that information into visual aids. Make them into brightly colored graphs and charts that can easily display the information. This way your audience will be able to make sense of the information quickly without being bogged down with formulas or calculations.

If you know how to present those visuals well, you can almost force the investors to see what you want them to see when they look at those graphs. The right type of chart can enforce the message you are trying to send. Get familiar with the different kinds of charts. A pie chart can give different information than a bar chart might have.

Advertising Your Business

You can actually use the information from your customers, and from potential customers, to advertise and market your business. There are two different ways to do this: by using the information to cater your branding to your customer base or by giving your customers the information right back, repackaged by your business.

  • Cater Your Branding to Your Customers

Retaining current customers is just as important as converting new ones. That means that you’re also thinking of them when doing your advertising. If you show your existing clientele that you’re still thinking about them and catering to them, they’ll do the major legwork in converting new customers. You don’t want to be the company that made a marketing decision that was in direct opposition to their customer’s values.

  • Repackaging the Information for Your Customers

Often what draws someone to a business is knowing that being a part of that business means they will be a part of something bigger: a community. You can often repackage this information as an infographic, for example, to show how the people who buy your product all share some connecting value. You can show that they share not only similar tastes but maybe they share positive traits or strong beliefs. All of this can nurture a sense of community around your company.

Surveys can be an essential tool in building your start-up. If packaged well, you can create eye-catching and informative reports and business plans, or you can alter your branding to support the communities you rely on. There are innumerable benefits to keep surveys in your business toolbox, and it only gains value when you know how to use the results to your benefit.