I'm a solo-preneur and a guy, and I run a women's jewelry and accessories store. I needed data to understand women's jewelry-buying habits. So I designed a survey, ran a contest, and marketed it via lifestyle bloggers.
My effort generated 718 completed responses (639 from women) for less than $350—way more economical than survey response solutions out there that charge $3 or more per responder from their panels.
Here's how I did it.
Survey Design and Hosting
To keep the survey short, I had only 11 questions, but more than one-third were open-ended questions (text-box response) that resulted in a lot of detailed responses.
Four questions were on demographics, and three check-box questions were about price points, how often respondents wore jewelry, and their style aesthetic.
The remaining four questions were open-ended, such as "What are your favorite fashion jewelry stores and why?" and "Are there certain types of jewelry that you want but can't easily find?" I sifted through the responses to those to gain insight.
The answers to open-ended questions will tell you things you hadn't even thought of asking.
The obvious choice was to go with the most popular survey tool out there: SurveyMonkey. But it didn't have a monthly plan that had the options I wanted, so I found FluidSurveys, which gave me what I wanted for $19 per month and let me cancel after one month. I'm sure there are many other tools out there, but I had no issues in working with FluidSurveys.
Marketing the Survey and Collecting Responses
Once you've decided on the questions and the survey is up and running, the hard part is to market it, on a budget, to the right crowd.
On our blog I hosted a contest for a $100 Amazon gift certificate, to be awarded to a random winner selected from those who completed the survey. I marketed the contest via numerous lifestyle bloggers and sweepstakes listing sites.
Here are some specifics on why I chose to offer an Amazon card and how I selected bloggers to work with.
A Neutral Incentive
Offering a coupon or gift certificate to your own store biases responders to those who are interested in your brand's current offerings.
By offering a neutral incentive, such as an Amazon gift card, you are likely to get responses from a population that is more representative of the market. And the more neutral the incentive, the more appealing it is, which leads to more people completing the survey.
Bloggers to Work With
Since we wanted women in their 20s and 30s to respond to our survey, we decided to work with lifestyle bloggers who, among other things, frequently blog about their fashion finds and style inspirations:
- Using Google Blog Search and BlogLovin', and googling for terms like "lifestyle bloggers," "style bloggers," and "fashion blogs," I short-listed a set of blogs based on how many followers/fans/readers they had and how many comments their posts were generating—an indication of how engaged their readers are.
- From that preliminary list, I filtered for those who offered advertising options combined with a feature post or a sponsored post. A feature or sponsor post is a post where the blogger introduces your business to their readers in a blog post. Sometimes, this is a solo post about your business, and sometimes it is a group post about a bunch of their sponsors. Small to midsize bloggers charge $15-$35 for an ad with a post (that is, if they offer advertorial services).
- I contacted the final list of bloggers and asked them whether along with the intro post they could talk about that survey and contest, and point people to our blog. Most of the bloggers agreed.
- I worked with about 10 bloggers who wrote about our survey and asked their readers to participate. Since bloggers also do frequent shout-outs about their sponsors on Facebook and Twitter, we got multiple mentions to a highly targeted audience.
- Once you find a few good blogs to work with, look at their blogrolls or daily reads section to find links to other bloggers they follow. Doing so is an easier way to build a blogger list, since they are already vetted by bloggers you're working with.
- I also posted the contest on various free contest listing sites like online-sweepstakes.com (online-sweepstakes.com). These got me about 25% of my responses. Note that using just the free sweepstakes listing sites is not recommended because responders from these types of sites alone are generally a lower income population, which is not a good representation of the market. Unless of course, that's the specific population you're targeting.
We received 718 completed responses in two weeks. Some 89% of responders were women—or an analyzable population of 639 respondents. That was large enough to allow us to slice the data in a few different ways to get a better read on consumer preferences.
Total cost: $19 for survey hosting + $100 Amazon gift card + $222 in blogger marketing costs = $341.