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Pop Up Surveys to Measure Ad Effectiveness
Why do pop up surveys?

By: Meg Walker

During her 18 years' experience in marketing and sales, Meg Walker has developed winning advertising, public relations and web campaigns. As the founder of iMarketing Group www.i-mktg.com, Meg leverages her special expertise in marketing for biotechnology, healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. Her clients receive personalized attention, which results in online branding and interactive programs that create revenue and build their bottom line.

She holds a Bachelor's Degree from Hood College, and has completed significant coursework towards her Master's Degree at University of Baltimore. She regularly judges in top industry website competitions. Additionally, she has written numerous articles which have been published by the American Marketing Association, ExpertPR, eHealthcare Newsletter, Employee Benefits News, eCustomer Service World, and Dr. eBiz, among others.

Do you have a website? Do you know who is visiting, or how they found your site? Whether you manage an e-commerce site or have a corporate identity site, you need to know who your visitors are - and the only way to know is to ask them using a pop up survey.

Many webmasters believe that all the information they need about site visitors is available through log analysis tools such as WebTrends, NetTracker or 123LogAnalyzer. This is far from true. Although they can track page views, numbers of visitors, search engine hits and downloaded files, they can never tell you who your visitors are or what they think. In fact, many log analyzers can only tell you IP addresses, which will be the same for everyone behind a firewall.

A pop up survey appears as a small, new browser window on your visitor's desktop that opens when they enter a page on your website. Use the pop up survey to ask your visitors about their needs, interests, demographic profiles, product usage as well as why they are visiting your site that day. You can use these results to create effective marketing programs, design a better website, or expand your product offerings. The information you gather is only limited by the questions you choose to ask.

Here is one example of how you can use pop up surveys to save time, money and improve marketing return on investment.


Where Should We Advertise?

If you're in marketing, this is probably one of the most common questions you hear. You have to assure that your advertising campaigns draw the right prospects to your products and website. Being sure that you invest wisely takes a lot of planning and research before you spend a lot of money.

Step One: Identify your target audience
The first step in developing an advertising plan is to understand and profile your current customers. A good profile includes demographic information, purchasing patterns, interests and possibly geographic information about customers.

After you have reviewed your customer profiles, you will know the types of prospects you want to reach. If your customers are businesses, you'll know the right size organization, the position, title and responsibility of key buyers. If you offer consumer products or services, you'll know about household demographics, geographic break-down and personal interests.

Step Two: Measure your current audience
The next step is to find out who is currently visiting your website and compare their profiles to those you have developed about your customers. This is where you create and implement your pop up site visitor's survey.

Step Three: Create the pop up survey
What questions should you ask? Below are several questions you might find valuable on your pop up site visitor survey. These are designed for business-to-business environments, but can be modified easily for consumer sites.
  1. Is this the first time you've visited our website?

  2. Why are you visiting our site today? (Browsing the web, looking for a particular product, evaluating your product, are a customer, etc.)

  3. What television station/magazine/trade shows do you watch, read or attend? (Choose one and give options. I recommend using a multi-select format, since most people don't just refer to one information outlet).

  4. Are you the decision maker on this type of purchase (valuable especially for business to business surveys)? If not, what is the title of the person who is?

  5. What is your budget for the purchase?

  6. When do you plan to purchase?

  7. What additional information do you need before making a decision?

  8. Which competitors have you considered?

  9. Are you currently using another product (i.e., are they looking to replace something they have already or is it a completely new purchase)? If so, whose product are you using currently?

  10. What is your title?

  11. What department do you work in?

  12. How many employees are in your company?
Once you've got your questions, create and publish your survey to pop up automatically from your home page (see this month's technical tip). You may want to configure your pop up so that it opens the survey window randomly, as well as places and reads a cookie so that visitors only see the survey on their first visit.

Step Four: Get the pre-campaign data
Collect responses for a period of time. How long depends on how much traffic your website gets. I usually look at my results on a daily basis, and when the charts remain the same, I know I have enough data to start my evaluation.

Now, analyze your results. To identify advertising venues, filter your results so that you only look at responses from visitors who most closely represent your customer profiles. How do they answer question 3? Do they say that they are the decision maker? Do they have a budget to purchase? When do they plan to buy? Are they replacing a currently used product or service, or will this be their first purchase of this type? This analysis will tell you how well you are currently doing to reach your target customers.

Step Five: Launch your program
Now select how you will advertise your products and launch your campaigns. You can justify your selections with the objective results you've collected, and can confidently choose the right places and times to advertise your products and services to the people most likely to purchase them.

Step Six: Measure Effectiveness
Next, you need to see how effective your programs are by keeping your site visitor's survey active when you launch your advertisements. You can compare pre- and post-campaign site traffic. As new visitors come to your site based on the ad activities, they will respond to the same set of questions and you can track changes in interest level and likelihood to purchase.

To compare your pre- and post-campaign responses, filter the data using the "Date Received" field. This data point is automatically created each time a survey response is submitted. Are the demographics of your site visitors better matching your customer profile? Are a higher percentage of them reporting that they read or rely on the information source in which you've advertised? WebSurveyor will give you the answer!

This model is scalable, too. Do you spend money on television, print media, trade shows or other types of advertising? Frequently, site visitors follow up on advertising by visiting the company's website rather than by calling. Now, if you ask site visitors where they go for information or where they heard about your company, you'll know which programs are the most effective and can fine-tune your marketing plan to reach more of the people you want.

Ok, so how does it work in real life?

WebSurveyor has conducted more than forty pop up site visitor surveys on our home page over the last three years. We know who is visiting our site, why they are visiting and what their survey goals are. Although I keep our demographic questions relatively constant, I can easily add questions to gather information I need at a specific time.

Recently, my focus was to identify where I should invest my advertising budget. Since I wanted to introduce WebSurveyor to potential users as they researched solutions, I decided to focus on search engine placements. To identify where I should advertise, I added a survey question about search engine preferences. I always ask how seriously respondents are considering survey solutions. I collected several thousand responses. By filtering on interest level, budget and responsibility, I knew which search engines that subset of visitors used most often and could invest my budget confidently.

If I had only looked at available search engine comparisons, such as Search Engine Watch or Jupiter Media Metrix, I would not have known how MY target audience searched the web. I would only have known overall statistics that would not have been valuable for my purposes. Although my survey results are confidential, I will share that by surveying our site visitors, I avoided spending a lot of money to reach the wrong people.

After putting my new programs in place, I reviewed my ongoing visitor survey to see how the visitor profile had changed. Simply put, the number of site visitors increased dramatically, and those who matched my customer profile more than doubled.

Another valuable data point is that I can see which advertisements bring in the right visitors. Since we use cookies to track our online ads by source and creative, I included a hidden field in the survey to identify which ad the respondent had clicked. I can now cross-tabulate which ad (both venue and creative) results in the best prospects - further refining my message and getting the most out of my budget!

© Copyright, 2002, Meg Walker

Other Articles by Meg Walker

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.

 

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