Contributed by Eli Schwartz, Director of Marketing APAC at SurveyMonkey

 

While our minds have been conditioned to ignore the daily bombardment of advertising messages on-and-offline, there are still marketing messages that rise above the fray. Every marketer strives to create the most perfect specimens of advertising, but the reality is that the vast majority will fall well below the desired mark. Most promotional copy and ideas are born of a gut instinct and there’s hardly ever any data to back up that first hunch. The large agencies have the ability to focus-group test messaging before launching it on to the world, but this is an advantage that is out of budget for the vast pool of non-major agency marketers.

However, if you are one of these cash-strapped marketers, don’t give up hope just yet. With a seemingly simple survey, you can tap into the wisdom of the crowds without needing to rob a bank. You have a chance at going out to your target market with a data qualified message that has a fighting chance of making an impact.

Depending on how you gather your survey respondents it may not be as statistically airtight as a random focus group, however even just a handful of responses can be indicative enough to you spare you the wasted efforts from a failed ad campaign. With a simple survey process, you will have the choice to never launch with an untested marketing campaign again.

It doesn’t just have to be the marketing that you test with surveys, the data itself can become the marketing if the data is interesting. When using the survey as the hook you can make use of just a handful, hundreds or thousands of opinions; however, you can start small with just testing advertising.

A survey testing regimen can work on any marketing campaign from a radio ad to TV commercial to Adwords campaign. The core methods are the same with only minor differences in implementation.

When testing any sort of marketing messages, you are essentially testing whether subjects can comprehend and recall the ad. Additionally, you also want to discover whether they might be motivated to conduct a follow up action. In an experiment environment, there’s obviously no perfect way to measure whether they might actually purchase a product, but for testing purposes its very suggestive if behaviour responses differ between ad versions.

To conduct an effective test, you want to gather data on every area of a campaign that could impact decision-making. Here are few key areas to test:

 

  Keywords – in an Adwords campaign these are the words that users will type. If well chosen these keywords will cause your ad to surface.

Δ  How to implement a survey test: Describe your product in a text box or show an image of it. As a follow up question, ask users to type the words in to a box that they might search online to find your website. When you analyse your survey results, use a word cloud and the most frequently submitted words will appear larger in the cloud. You will likely discover words you never would have come up with on your own!

 

•   Video or image ad – For this sort of message you want to zero in on whether users even notice what you are trying to show them. You might have a beautiful piece of marketing, but its worthless if the users completely miss the calls to action or are confused about the message.

Δ  How to implement in a survey: If you run this marketing test, you can embed your video and image and ask users to watch/study the message. As a follow up, you then have the respondent click forward to another page where they would be asked questions about what they had seen. Did they notice a product? What was the subject of the message? What was the call to action URL? Also, ask various specific questions to make sure they paid attention to the message or was it too boring or confusing that they disengaged.

 

•  Adwords ad – Many search engine marketers will rely on Google’s own advertising algorithms to optimise campaigns towards the most effective ads; however, this doesn’t allow you to learn why certain ads perform better. When testing ad copy in a survey, break each ad into the specific parts of the copy: headline, description, and URL.

Δ  How to implement in a survey – You need to drill into the specific drivers of your ad’s messaging. For example, if you want to test whether having a price impacts clickthrough rate, you might show a pair of ads for competing products. One ad will contain a price in the headline while the other will not. You can then ask the user which business they are more likely to call based on the ad. Each piece of the copy should be tested in this manner.

 

The experiments above are just a small sliver of what you can and should be testing with online surveys. Everything that goes into a marketing campaign can be tested including things like the name of your product, the colours of your landing page, and even how users might respond to external validation like testimonials. With low cost and even free survey tools that are simple to use, budget should never be the barrier to a data qualified campaign.

 

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This article is a contribution written by Eli Schwartz, Marketing Director APAC for SurveyMonkey and represents his personal view.
The free version of SurveyMonkey allows you to use the tool for anything less than 10 questions and 100 answers.

The author is a 3rd party contributor to AdAsia and this article represents his views.