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Find Out More About Your Customers With an Online Survey

Apr 16 2012

How much do you know about the people that frequent your website?  If the answer is "Not much", then perhaps it's time to conduct a few online surveys and get an idea of the kind of person that enjoys your content. Understanding your visitors can help you to focus your web development efforts, and is also useful for attracting advertisers. The more information you can provide about your demographics, the more targeted the advertisements on your site can be.  Better targeting translates into more conversions, and hopefully more money from those ads.

Running Online Surveys

If you decide that you want to survey your user base, the first thing you should do is think about how to do so without annoying your users. You've probably seen a few websites that nag you to complete a survey each time you visit. There are a couple of ways you can do this.  The simplest is to just run a discrete banner ad offering an incentive for people to complete the survey - perhaps an entry into a prize draw, or a money off coupon.

If you find that you don't get enough people clicking that ad, then something a little more noticeable, such as an interstitial advertisement, or a floating ad, may attract better response.  It's a good idea to invest a little web development time into ensuring that this ad doesn't appear too often, though.  Make sure that logged in users aren't nagged by it, and consider setting a cookie to ensure that the intrusive ad isn't presented to someone over and over if they dismiss it.  You want to survey your users, not drive them away.

Useful Questions To Ask

When you run the survey, try not to waste your user's time by asking them things that you already know the answer to.  Your stats software should already be tracking simple facts such as:

  • Where in the world are your visitors located.
  • What Internet browser and computer operating system do they use. 
  • The size of the screen they're using to view your site
  • The link or search term that brought them to your website.

If your stats software doesn't gather that sort of information, consider changing to a different script.  Google analytics is free, easy to use even if you don't have a lot of web development expertise, and offers sophisticated visitor tracking options. You don't need to duplicate those questions in your online surveys.  Instead, focus on asking questions about the user, rather than the device they are using, for example:

  • Their age and gender, if this is relevant to your site
  • Their income and their education level
  • Their hobbies and interests
  • What other sites in your niche they visit
  • Which parts of your site they use the most
  • What new features or content they would like to see on your site

This information, once you have a decent number of responses, can be very valuable.  Perhaps you'll find out that everyone visits your site to use your charts, calculators, and reference tables, but nobody reads the blog.  Maybe you'll discover that the video section of your site is rarely used, and just wasting bandwidth.  You might even find out that your site has an exceptionally large number of visitors from a specific demographic, and you could increase traffic by narrowing your focus to cater to that one group, instead of being a general subject matter website.

Remember, your work isn't done once you've finished one survey.  Be sure to conduct new surveys periodically, and always keep one eye on web development opportunities, and ways to improve your site.

This post was written by Amy Fowler on behalf of Xibis the specialist web development company. Please click here to find out more about online survey solutions and here to find out about web development services. Photo: Sean MacEntee

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