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What Are You Waiting for? Survey on the Spot Instead of Through E-mail

By Mark Penson, CMO of Survey Anyplace Mobile Surveys

(PresseBox) (Edegem, ) Paper surveys have probably been around since papyrus. We've always been interested to know what others were thinking, right? We've all seen the surveyors at the grocery store, armed with their clipboards, intercepting folks lugging bags out to their cars to ask about products and services. In-home surveys came via parcel post, in overstuffed envelopes, asking us about everything from private businesses to the city's new urbanization plans.

As PCs became more popular, so did online surveys. While they improved ease of distribution compare to paper, email surveys still left a lot of qualitative room for improvement. People are busy when they're online, doing any number of things that have nothing to do with waiting to take a survey. Alas, harried shoppers, people sorting their mail and overworked employees are not ideal survey candidates. After all, the more reasons you give them to avoid your survey the less likely you are to get valuable feedback-if you get any feedback at all.

Email surveys aren't in tune with the times

When email surveys don't automatically land in a recipient's junk mail folder, they're often ushered there by the very person it was intended for. It's no wonder that email response rates are off the wrong end of the charts and getting further afield. When responses do come in, the value of the information is limited. Why? No sense of immediacy exists between the brand interaction and the customer's actually answering the survey. The business has to collect the email address, get the email to the right department or outside resource to add to the database, and then work it into the survey stream. If the email address is accurate, and if the survey doesn't land in the trash, an email survey often lingers for days before the recipient gets around to answering it.

Time-sensitive consumer insights are lost, like the nuances of a meal or event. The value of the insights and the details consumers can recall decreases as the time between their experience and answering your survey increases. Clearly, email surveys' role in collecting viable, valuable consumer feedback to inform marketing and other functions is limited at best. At worst, it's a waste of time and money. There is a better way.

Use people's mobile devices to ask them about your brand-while they're experiencing it

Fewer and fewer people leave their homes without a smartphone or tablet these days, accompanying them down the store aisles, into car dealerships, bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants, educational settings and events. A modern, convenient mobile survey, quiz or contest during this experience can feel like a natural part of the experience itself. Without even an app to install, mobile surveys and quizzes use familiar swiping, keyboarding and taking photos that consumers do countless times a day with their mobiles. They capture the previously missing sense of immediacy while delivering -in real time - once hard-to-collect, in-the-moment insights.

Consumer research has for too long been overly serious. It needn't be. With mobile surveys, you can collect invaluable insights by engaging your audience with a fun challenge, quirky quiz, contest or simply the prospect of publicity. You don't need their email or cell phone number, just a provocative proposition.

How to learn from customers, prospects or attendees as they experience your brand:

Make it easy for them to use their mobile to scan a QR code or enter a URL:
- Printed on packaging and or POP signs
- Projected onto a screen during seminars or conferences
- Printed on event signs, tickets or program materials
- Included inside packaging on directions or warranty/registration information

Compel them to give their input by:
- Using hosts at events to invite attendees to take your survey
- Telling respondents they'll be entered into a prize drawing
- Making the invitation and quiz informal, fun and entertaining
- Letting people know they'll learn their score at the end
- Promise a coupon or gift for completed quiz (a great way to collect additional contact info)
- Installing a tablet or PC on a kiosk and ask your customers to take your survey

Make the survey or quiz fun, not boring like most email surveys
- Keep it short. People will quit or will get bored after 7 questions
- Incorporate photos and videos into your questions
- Encourage respondents to take personal photos of your product in their homes
- Brand your survey with your company logo, background image and colors
- Use emoticons or other graphics instead of a numerical scale to indicate satisfaction

Customers don't mind sharing opinions if doing so is convenient, fun and potentially rewarding

Many studies confirm that customers are willing to tell about their experiences with brands. This willingness shouldn't come at a price of interrupting work or diverting them from tasks they're already engaged in. And if you think the information you seek is valuable-and in-the-moment information certainly is-reward those who respond. Rewards can come in the form of valuable coupons or discounts, free products and even their appearance with your product or at your event on your Facebook or Pinterest pages.

The days of passive, tedious email surveys that don't capture the immediacy of the interaction with your product or service are over. Simply access ubiquitous mobile devices, and engage and learn from your customers and prospects as never before.

Mark Penson is CMO of Survey Anyplace Mobile Surveys, which offers an app-free mobile survey tool used to capture real-time customer insights at the moment of brand interaction.