Conducting an online survey yourself is fairly easy, but it does require a few ingredients (other than the survey itself). If you can come up with these three things you can probably execute your own customer survey online:
1. You need to select some a survey system. This part is fairly easy to come by as there are all sorts of options out there to choose from. If you don’t expect to do a lot of surveying then you are probably OK to use a fairly low cost option. If you’re doing it for a real life professional business I would be careful not to do it on a free system that doesn’t let you remove their branding (there is nothing more tacky then having your survey end on the surveymonkey signup page – your survey should end on your home page or something similar). If you’re going to show images, make sure that you choose a system that makes it easy for you to upload and insert images – don’t choose a system that makes you upload the images to your own web server since that will make things too complicated (especially if you don’t have a web site).
2. You need respondents. This is often the most tough part of conducting a survey online – you need to find people, preferably customers, to take your survey. If you have a web site you can definitely solicit your web site visitors to take your survey, keeping in mind that you don’t want to do anything that will stop them from making purchases. One option is to invite past customers to take your survey – hopefully you have plenty of e-mail address from past customers, and a carefully worded, friendly e-mail to them may get enough of them to take your survey – especially if you make it clear to them that you’ll be using their feedback in the development of your new products. If you don’t have any e-mail addresses and you want to get your feedback from a group of non-customers, then what you may want to do is rent an outside survey panel. You’ll pay upwards of $5 or more per response, but if the feedback is important enough, it may be worth it to you.
3. You need to offer an incentive. There are probably many people who will take your survey for free. Maybe they like you, maybe they like your product, or maybe they just like to take surveys. In most cases, there won’t be a enough people like this to give you a fleshed out sample. By introducing a simple incentive – the chance to win a drawing or even some kind of an exclusive discount – you can greatly increase the number of people who will take your survey without significantly increasing your costs. For example, one of my favorite incentives is to offer a chance to win a $200 gift certificate to giftcertificates.com. You’ll double or even triple your response rate which means that the quality of your responses will be significantly higher without spending significantly more money overall.