John Wanamaker, who some call the “pioneer of marketing,” used to say,
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”
He was describing how difficult it is to measure and keep track of costs spent to target a potential customer. Wanamaker had a point, it used to be very difficult indeed. However, things have changed. Marketers have tools that help test future campaigns and project their outcome even before anything is invested in advertising. For example, let’s take a look at robust and flexible online consumer surveys powered by Google.
What are Google Consumer Surveys?
Google Consumer Surveys are fast, accurate and affordable online focus groups that allow large brands and small businesses to gather consumer feedback on various questions. Whether it’s testing a new logo or determining the highest price that someone is willing to pay for a product, you can get it through Google consumer surveys.
Why Use Google Consumer Surveys?
Last year, New York Times published an interesting article on brands’ consumer surveys, where the latter were criticized for being too lengthy and lacking focus. Additionally, traditional consumer surveys can be costly, time consuming and hard to administer. Even the screening process of a traditional survey requires a lot of time and effort. Google, on the other hand, provides a more straightforward and easy way to manage a survey.
Google uses a screening question approach that works like a filter. The responder is typically asked one screening question to determine if they would qualify to answer actual survey questions.
The questions are served by Google to people browsing the Web and trying to access premium content such as news articles, videos, etc. that are not available for free. By answering a survey question, users get to view the content for free while the business gets their answers. According to Google, this one-question approach tends to result in higher response rates (15-20% vs. industry standard 0.1 – 2%) and more accurate answers, since long surveys can turn off a responder and be viewed as boring tests.
How Do Google Consumer Surveys Work?
So, let’s say that you’re a brand that wants to create a new design for a cereal box. You can figure out which box is the best by performing these three relatively easy steps.
First, pick an audience and set up a screening question. Screening questions allow you to capture the most relevant respondents for your actual survey questions. The screening question should be simple and clear, for example, “Do you eat cereal?” If the answer is “Yes” then the responder would move to the actual survey questions. And in this case, you obviously don’t want to hear from anyone who doesn’t eat cereal.
In addition to the screening question, you can set up audience targeting, to further narrow down the results by age, gender and some geography.
Next, you have to select a question format. Since we are looking to compare new cereal box designs, we are going to select the side-by-side images format. Google allows many other additional options beyond the simple “yes” or “no” questions. You can get as complex and open-ended as you like.
Once you’ve chosen the format and the question, you need to upload the box design images, so that your survey respondents can see them.
Keep in mind that more than one question can be chosen, but each responder will only see one question at a time.
Now that your questions are finalized, the last step is to pick how many responses are required for each question and, if applicable, set the frequency. It will only cost .10$ per response if no screening question is chosen, and .50$ per response if you do use a screening question. You’ll also need to spend the minimum charge of $100 to get the survey out there.
Now, here is the best part: reporting. You will get access to all of the survey data in real time as soon the answers come in. In addition to the raw data, Google will provide you with some demographic and geographic information by using a DoubleClick cookie and the respondents IP addresses.
In case you wonder what the dashboard looks like, here is an example of the aggregated data.
With this dashboard you can sort the answers by gender, age, geography and income level. All the data can be exported and used for further examination.
Google Consumer Surveys can be used by both large companies and small business owners.
You can access some case studies for all different business types here: http://www.google.com/insights/consumersurveys/case_studies
For example, Lucky Brand, denim fashion company wanted to test offline vs. online consumer purchasing behavior. They used Google Surveys, and found that their customers are not as comfortable purchasing clothes online as Lucky Brands initially thought. Because of that research, Lucky Brand shifted their strategy to better assist their offline consumers, by directing them to the more appropriate outlet stores.
As I mentioned, these consumer surveys are not just for the big guys. Kasa, a small Indian restaurant in San Francisco, used Google survey to test new menu items and marketing messaging for their food truck operations. By utilizing a screening question, they were able to target responders who liked Indian food. By using this targeted approach, they weeded out unqualified answers and captured the most relevant responses, which allowed them to make better decisions and serve their customers better.
As you can see, there is a lot of potential with testing your ideas, products or marketing efforts with Google Consumer Surveys before you launch them. Once the product/service is up and running, you can start to use A/B testing to further improve customer experience, but that’s a topic for another article.