Online surveys are still a fantastic way to determine what people think of your financial services brand, and identify whether your business is on track towards its marketing goals.
What do your clients see as your primary source of value, for instance? Is this perception shared by prospects who encounter your brand for the first time?
How likely are your clients to refer you to their friends and family, and how would they rate their experience of your brand?
At MarketingAdviser, designing client surveys for financial firms is a big part of what we do. Having spent many years consulting and working in this area, we want to share 10 tips with you for designing your own survey.
We hope you find the following helpful:
#1 Identify the need & goal
It’s easy to want to launch a survey, simply because you feel like you should. However, what is the purpose of sending out a survey? What are you specifically trying to achieve?
For instance, it could be that there are questions you want answering about your customer base, and the available secondary research doesn’t meet your needs (e.g. industry research papers).
You need a specific goal for your survey, too. Perhaps you want to know the reasons why clients leave your business, in order to find ways to increase retention. Or, maybe you want to find out if there are differences in perception of your brand between clients and new prospects.
#2 Keep it short
It can be tempting to want to produce a long survey with lots of questions, in an attempt to gather as much data as possible. The reality, however, is that most people will only be willing to spend a few minutes answering your questions – so it’s best to keep it under 10 in total.
#3 Closed questions
You might want to know your customers’ opinions on certain topics, asking open questions like: “What do you think of our pension advice service?” However, open questions like these often put off your respondents (who want to put in minimal brain power), and it can be hard to collate all of the answers you do receive into a coherent chart or graph at the end of the survey.
This isn’t to say that you cannot use open questions. Yet in general, it is a good idea to keep them to a minimum, and focus on closed questions where people can answer: “Yes”, “No” or “Don’t Know”.
#4 Offer a “carrot”
Your audience is far more likely to take the time to fill out your survey if they can clearly see that there is something in it for them. For example, you could enter them into a sweepstake or offer a gift card if they complete your questionnaire.
#5 Focus on the impersonal
In ordinary conversation, it would be awkward if you walked up to someone and asked: “What do you think of the current prime minister?” Generally, you need to work your way up to those sorts of questions by asking other, more light-hearted questions first – to make people comfortable.
In your survey, you need to strike a balance. On the one hand, you need to make your recipients feel safe to answer your questions, but you also need to keep the survey short – so you cannot spend lots of time getting there. As a general rule in your surveys, try to focus on more impersonal questions first and work your way towards the more personal ones.
#6 One question, per question
In an attempt to make your survey efficient, it can be tempting to try and squash two or more questions into one by asking something like: “What do you think of our estate planning service and overall quality of advice?”
Not only do you risk confusing your survey recipients, but you also risk diluting the quality of the data you get back. After all, which question would they really be answering?
#7 Be impartial
It is really hard to keep your survey design focused, to find out what people really think about you. After all, we want to believe that our clients and customers love us, so it can be tempting to want to design a survey which simply reinforces our pre-existing beliefs.
Be careful, therefore, to not ask leading questions such as: “What do you think about our experienced, high-quality financial planning service?” Questions like these are clearly biased, and you might not get a set of authentic answers which helps you improve your service quality.
#8 Mix it up
Try to inject a bit of variety into your survey by asking different types of questions. Whilst you should steer away from lots of open questions, it will be more interesting for your respondents if they can answers questions which go beyond simple “Yes” or “No” answers (e.g. scales and multiple-choice).
#9 Subject line
Your survey is likely to go out to your recipients in the form of an email campaign, or attachment to your newsletter. That means you need a great subject line, to encourage people to open it.
There are lots of ways to optimise your subject lines, but some starting ideas would include personalising them to your recipients and including an offer within the text. Try also to create a sense of exclusivity, urgency and curiosity as well.
Once you are satisfied that you have constructed a solid survey to send to your customers and/or clients, it is rarely a good idea simply to send it out to everyone on your list in the hopes of good performance.
Rather, take a deep breath and select a sample from your wider list. As many as 20-50 people might be enough, in order to test the campaign and get some initial feedback.
This keeps damage to a minimum if there’s a mistake in the survey which slipped through unnoticed, and also gives you the opportunity to do some further optimisations prior to the full campaign launch (e.g. altering the survey send-out time to improve the open/engagement rates).