How to Collect Actionable Insights with Audience Surveys

April 16, 2020
5 min

Veterinary marketers are searching high and low for answers these days. Most of our questions have to do with our audience. How are they doing? What do they need? How can we help? The best way to get answers to these questions is through one-on-one communication. But we don’t have time to spend hours on the phone with every customer—and our customers don’t have time for that either. Enter the audience survey. Here’s what you need to keep in mind when leveraging audience surveys for your veterinary marketing efforts.

Create an Audience Survey Strategy for the COVID-19 Era

Clearly define the end goal of your audience survey up front. What action do you plan to take from the information you gather? What information do you need to collect to be comfortable taking that action? Use the following tips to develop an audience survey that’s sensitive to customer concerns during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Keep your survey short, and use clear, simple language.

With veterinary practices deemed essential businesses, most veterinary teams are still working. Their already demanding roles have become even more challenging. Be respectful of their time.

Optimize survey participation by only asking essential questions, and using clear, simple language. Use dropdowns for speed of completion and ease of data analysis when your survey is complete. Now is not the time to put out surveys that take more than 2-3 minutes to complete. If you need ideas for tactful messaging, we’ve got a post on that.

Tell potential participants exactly what to expect from the survey.

Explicitly tell participants how long the survey will take to complete, why they are receiving the survey, what you hope to do with the information, and if you intend to respond to them individually. If participants know you are trying to hear their voice above the noise, and you intend to provide support that is valuable, they are more likely to complete a short survey.

Only ask the most important questions.

Get a full picture of your internal data before constructing your audience survey. Check your Google Analytics, CRM data, social media metrics, marketing automation campaign performance, and sales reports. You’ll find answers to many of your questions (eg, what resources are people accessing on my website?), but you may also find new questions.

Avoid questions that feel personal, prying, or sales-focused.

Now is not the time to be asking practices anything sensitive or self-serving. Practice revenue questions are out of bounds, along with “how likely are you to recommend us” and any other questions that may feel too personal, prying, or sales focused. Clinics are in survival mode. They are laser focused on their own businesses, not their perception of yours.

Clinics are in survival mode. They are laser focused on their own businesses, not their perception of yours.

Craft High-Impact Questions for Audience Survey

Use the guidelines below to craft high-impact survey questions.

  • Keep questions customer-centric. Focus your questions on your customer’s top interests and concerns.
  • Write multiple-choice options. Avoid open-ended questions. The data is likely to be all over the map right now. Responses will vary widely depending on your respondent’s location, practice type, and role in the practice.
  • Look outside of your brand. Ask about offerings from other companies that are providing value for your audience. This can help you see gaps in your own offerings. Plus, it’s a good way to find opportunities for strategic partnerships, which can add value for both companies and the industry as a whole.
  • Look at the future. Ask veterinarians about their biggest concerns for the future. Now is the time to start building programs that will help them when businesses begin to return to ‘normal’ operation.
  • Ask questions that will elicit actionable answers. Each question should provide an insight that will inform decision making. Should you proceed with that product launch? Or should you pause, and focus on a service that’s more relevant right now?
  • Use language that gets to your customers’ core emotional concerns. Are people worried about their business? Or are they losing sleep worrying about their staff? Maybe they’re concerned about accessibility of care for their loyal customers. Digging deeper into the emotional motivation of their concerns will help you with future messaging as you provide solutions to their core problem. Spoiler alert: It’s deeper than just money.

Quickly Design & Deploy with Survey Tools

If you don’t currently have a survey tool, here are several recommended platforms that will enable you to quickly design and deploy your survey.

  • SurveyMonkey: Create a free account and quickly design your survey. Advanced features required a paid subscription. However, month-by-month plans are available to enable short-term use. Free accounts are limited to 100 survey respondents per survey. For additional responses, you will need to upgrade to a paid account.
  • SoGoSurvey: Design simple surveys for free. Free accounts are limited to 200 survey respondents per year. For advanced features and additional responses, upgrade to a paid account.
  • Google Forms:Create a free account with no respondent limits and options to customize branding. This is the only survey platform that allows both custom logo branding and skip logic without a paid subscription.
  • Media Partners: If you are time-restricted, reach out to a media partner. They can help you with audience survey strategy, design, question creation, and deployment to targeted audiences.

Be Strategic About Deployment & Incentives

Your deployment strategy can make or break your audience survey. Here are a few ideas to help ensure an actionable response.

Offer an incentive to complete the survey.

Incentives will significantly increase survey completion rates. Gift cards are a common incentive. However, consider whether your brand can provide a value-add offer above and beyond a gift card. Like a drawing for a free month of access to your service or product, or something else that will encourage loyalty to your brand.

Deploy your survey invitation at the right time.

Emails sent on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday typically have higher open rates than messages sent on Mondays or Fridays. Be sure to A/B test your subject lines to optimize open rates. Remember, email is a noisy place right now. Give careful thought to your subject line, and consider running it through a subject line tester. If your audience doesn’t open the email, they definitely won’t be completing your survey.

Maximize conversion rates.

Build drip campaigns that include resends to unopens (with new subject lines) to maximize conversion rates. Consider adding an additional value-add email to the sequence with something special for everyone who completes your survey. Just because your goal is survey responses doesn’t mean you can’t also leverage this campaign to build brand equity.

Partner with a media company to extend your pool of respondents.

If your company is new or has a limited email list, consider partnering with a media company for widespread distribution. Craft custom audiences to engage only the most appropriate targets with your message. Go beyond demographics when developing your target audience. Behavioral data (eg, topic interest, engagement with continuing education) are key to getting the right eyes on your message. Your media partner can also craft drip sequences to unopens and can provide strategic suggestions for optimized subject lines. Make sure they are A/B testing, too.

Review, Analyze, & Act

The results are in! Now what?

Assemble an internal cross-functional team to review your audience survey results and determine your short- and long-term action plan. How will your messaging change? Which products and services will you focus on? How can you provide real value to the veterinary market?

As you deploy campaigns and resources that result from your survey data, make sure the market knows that you’re actively responding to their needs. They are more likely to engage in whatever comes next if they know you’re acting based on their needs and your ability to hear their voice in this critical time.

Carefully craft your campaigns and messaging to prove that you heard your audience, you understand their challenges, and you are uniquely qualified to help.

If you need assistance building and deploying audience surveys, the Brief Media team is here to help. Reach out to your account manager, or contact us here.