Transcript: How to Create a Survey to Find Your Target Market

April 11, 2015

AMY PORTERFIELD: Hey there, Amy Porterfield here. Welcome to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast. I am thrilled that you’re here so thanks, so much, for tuning in. 

Over the last few weeks we’ve had a lot of great conversations. You’ve heard me talk to Jeff Goins about finding your purpose, I’ve talked to Ramit Sethi about mental competence and overcoming fears, and today is an equally valuable conversation because we’re talking about your target market, who they are, how to find them, and more importantly, how to speak to them. 

The reason for this progression and all of these great topics is because last month I sent you a survey, at least if you are on my email list I did. I learned a lot about what you all want from me. Here’s the deal, I have a product coming out soon. It’s called The Profit Lab. You might have heard me talk about it before or maybe you have been a member of The Profit Lab. 

Every year I like to refine it and make it better. So this year it’s kind of a big deal for me. I’m a little nervous because I’m taking a big leap but I feel very strongly that this is what you need. So instead of calling it the Facebook Marketing Profit Lab I have actually cut out the Facebook Marketing part of the title. 

Don’t worry, there’s still a huge component of Facebook marketing inside The Profit Lab. But I wanted to expand. I wanted to make sure you had exactly what you needed based on so much of the feedback I got in the survey. So the new title is The Profit Lab – How To Create Marketing Systems In Your Business So That You Can Grow Your Email List and Sell More Products. 

I launch this product twice a year. I used to do it three times a year when I started it in 2012 and that feels like a lifetime ago. Each time I release it I recreate it so it stays fresh and valuable; and, because there is a big component of social media inside The Profit Lab. We all know social media, especially Facebook, changes all the time so I need to keep it current. I want to make it current for those who have gone through it already because their membership expires every year and I want them to reengage in The Profit Lab so I always add new elements. 

This year I am recording all new videos, rewriting all of the worksheets and cheat sheets, and redoing some of the exercises. This year it is actually a whole rehaul because, well wait for it, and I’ll tell you why. That is why I am doing this episode today about surveys because it is pretty amazing what I found and I want you to have that same experience as I have. 

Let me set the stage here. This year as I have been getting ready to launch this product I wanted to make sure I was actually connecting with my target audience which is, hopefully, you. I wanted to make sure that if this product was going to knock your socks off it had to deliver exactly what you needed. 

To deliver a product that was exactly what you needed I needed to find out where you all were at right now in terms of your business goals and your growth. And I wanted to find out what you needed and where you were struggling. Not just in your business but if you were actually a part of The Profit Lab in years past I wanted to know what you needed to change or what needed to be different to get even bigger results. 

So, knowing all of this stuff about what makes you tick, what makes my target audience tick, allows me to really tailor the content in The Profit Lab. Here’s what’s so great about being an entrepreneur and creating online training programs: I can be flexible. I can change things at a moment’s notice. I can retweak an entire program to make it even better than the year before. 

That’s what I love about what I do. Those of you who do similar things as me probably really get it. You are probably shaking your head saying, “Yeah, I do love that part.” It’s just really great to stay nimble and to give your audience exactly what they need. In order to do this I put together a survey. The responses knocked my socks off. 

First of all, if you filled out filled out the survey, thank you so very much. If you didn’t, that’s okay. I want to know if you can identify with some of the findings that I’m going to report back here. And, of course, I want you to use this information for your own surveys for your own audience. 

The thing is I knew who my target audience was. I have known for a few years and I feel pretty confident about that. However, I didn’t really know them the way I thought I did. The survey gave me a chance to understand how they think, what kind of language they use (this was huge and I’ll give you an example of that one), I found what kept them up at night (it was very clear through all of the responses), and why they come to me as opposed to anybody else in the online marketing world. In other words, I found out what unique needs I am able to provide for them. 

This is valuable stuff. If there is one thing I have learned in the past several years, both from my own experience and from all the interviews I’ve done on the show, the main element in your business success is your list. You’ve heard me say this over and over again. Your email list is so very important. But, more specifically, the nature of the people on your list is what is important. 

This is not something I’ve talked about a lot and why I really wanted to get specific here. Who is it that you are speaking to? What are they struggling with? What makes them confident? What are they trying to accomplish, not just in life, but really specifically, right now? These are some of the questions I wanted to explore. 

You all have probably been familiar with the avatar exercise or finding your ideal customer avatar. There are a lot of exercises you can do. I will say that they have always stressed me out. I have done them, for sure, but they stress me out. I don’t necessarily love them. I have to say that I wish I never did any of those exercises before I actually took time to do a survey for my list. 

If you are thinking right now, “Amy, I can’t do a survey for my list because I don’t have a list to email the survey to,” don’t worry. I am going to address that so no worries there. You can do a survey even if you don’t have an email list so stay with me here. 

We touched on this a little bit last week with our interview with Ramit. But, it bears repeating. The more targeted your audience the more leads you will convert and the better your sales will be. There are people that you do not need to worry about in terms of making sure your message suits them because they are not your target audience. The more you can hone in on who it is and be dedicated and just fiercely loyal to that target audience I’m telling you, you will see a drastic change in your revenue and your overall impact. 

Making more money is the direct result of making sure you are talking to the clients that have the problem you are referring to and are interested in the solution you have to present. That’s something I really want to make sure you really get. This is really important. No matter how good your product is, how good your marketing, you’re going to fall short of your sales goal if you’re not talking to the right target market. 

You all know this because if you filled out my survey it was very clear that many of you are struggling with who your target market is or, even more so, where to find them online and how to get in front of them, how to understand what they need and want and then go locate them online. I heard you loud and clear throughout the survey. 

By contrast, if you are speaking directly to your target market you are going to exceed your sales goals by leaps and bounds. I have no doubt about that. This is definitely a topic that I think is going to be very valuable to you. 

Getting back to the product launch and why I did the survey. I knew the people in my ideal audience, at least for The Profit Lab program, either have a product already or they are very close to finishing one. I know they want a system to pull it all together to create consistent revenue. 

The product that I’m offering, The Profit Lab, has always been about a system. But I’ve refined it based on the survey. I’ll tell you what I did. That word, system, is a biggie for me. The Profit Lab in the sense that I reengineered it is a step-by-step training to create your first profitable sales funnel. A sales funnel, to me, is  starting  with something of great value and building up your audience, growing your email list, and then taking that list and knowing what emails to send down the funnel in order to convert your email list on a consistent basis. 

A lot of people that follow me are fairly new in their business, maybe one or two, maybe three years. Many of them, based on the survey, have a product or are creating one right now. But the thing is the number one thing I heard is they are not getting enough sales. A lot of people said they were getting no sales but a great handful said they were not getting enough sales, “I’m not seeing the sales I should be seeing after I put my heart and soul into the product.” 

There are a lot of factors that go into that and I address it all inside The Profit Lab. But here’s one thing I want you to understand what I learned in the survey and what you can learn in your survey as well. When you hear the phrase “sales funnel” what do you think of? 

Some people in my audience get overwhelmed. They have no idea what goes into a sales funnel. It sounds a little bit too techy, a little bit too advanced. They think their business isn’t ready for a sales funnel so they could shut down completely. 

If I came out with a product where all I said was, “how to create a sales funnel”, I might lose those people. The way I see it and the way I have built my business is I believe you need a sales funnel from the get go whether you are in your first few months or the first year of your business or, definitely, if you are in year two, three or beyond, you must have a foundation in your business that is built on the sales funnel. 

I keep it really simple. I don’t do a lot of bells and whistles because you’ve got to start with a foundation. You’ve got to just get the pieces in place and then you can add as many bells and whistles to the sales funnel to create as much money as you want. But without that foundational sales funnel in your business you’ve kind of got nothing in terms of generating consistent revenue. 

Why am I telling you this? I’m not telling you this just to talk about my product. I really have a point here. My audience came back in the survey and they said they need a system, an email system, a system for attracting and capturing leads, a system to get more sales. That’s exactly what The Profit Lab teaches but I am really teaching them a sales funnel. It’s just that my audience, some of them, a great handful of them, are not saying, “Amy, I need a sales funnel.” 

But I was able to read between the lines. It was very, very clear that my audience wants to find their target market, build their email  list,  and  turn  that  list  into consistent profits so that they can then focus on the areas of their business that they love. That rang true throughout the entire survey. My point is that knowing  the language your audience is speaking is so very valuable. 

I am actually going to do a webinar that has the words “sales funnel” in it. However, I love the magic of subtitles. The subtitle will have the word “system” in it and it will talk about target markets, growing your list, and making more sales. 

I’m going to be bold and come out with “sales funnel” in one of my free webinar titles but I’m also going to make sure I explain to my audience what that is. I would have never done that. I would have never gotten the system connection here if I didn’t do the survey. 

Imagine how that could have affected my whole product launch, the core messaging of it all. That is crazy, right? I don’t want this to happen to you as well. I kind of dodged a bullet and I want to help you do the same. 

Going back to something I said earlier, I also found that a lot of my target audience is confused about their target audience; specifically, where their target audience is hanging out, where they spend money, how they attract them. These are important things to know. There are a million different exercises that you can do to figure this out. But I strongly believe that surveys are the way to go, at least at the starting point. Then you can do a whole bunch of other things and investigative research to really hone in on that target market. 

Hear me out here guys, I know I am really kind of long winded here in this intro because I’m going to get to the good stuff, how to create a survey, what to put in it, the actual questions to ask. I’ll get there but the reason I’m so passionate about this is when you nail it with your target market, meaning you get them, you know the language they use, and you know where they are spending time, you embody them. 

You might not be them now, but for my target audience, I was in their situation. I totally get it to the core because I know their fears, I know their challenges, and I know what they need. They need more sales. They need a system and a plan. I get that because I’ve been there. But that might not be the same for you. You might not have lived the life your target audience is living. That’s okay. 

You still need to embody them in the sense that you get them and understand them and hear them and you are here for them. I think that makes all of the difference. I am telling you, it makes all of your marketing easier. In the coming episodes, we are going to talk about copy writing. We are going to talk about making sure your product is actually meeting the needs of your audience. 

In order to do that you have to know your audience. So that’s why I think this is just so very valuable. Ramit Sethi, the interview before this one (#54), is a master at surveys. So I’ve been studying some of the stuff that he’s put out there on surveys. He talked a little bit about target audience in his interview so that kind of spurred me to do this episode for you as well. 

I learned so much from the experience of surveying my audience that I wanted to share some of those insights with you: How to create a survey that gets you into the minds and hearts of your target audience so you can design, redesign, or market your products in direct responded ways; meaning, getting that direct response from your audience because you know how to talk to them. 

The results of creating this kind of survey, I probably don’t need to tell you, but they will help you sell more of your products. And remember, don’t worry if you are just starting out and your list isn’t that big. You can still design a survey that gets you these answers and helps you build your list. And I’ll tell you how to get that survey out there so don’t worry about that. 

Before we dive in I want to tell you about the free giveaway for this episode. This is serious stuff. My team and I spent hours and hours on this free giveaway. You are actually going to hear me talk about it a little bit more through the episodes to follow. 

We created a free giveaway called The Product Maximizer: Four Smart Ways to Sell More Products Online. In it I go through the details of creating a survey. You don’t actually have to take notes on the episode today because I’m going  to  talk  you through it. And then you can get the step-by-step notes inside this free giveaway. 

But I also talk about how to position your products with different tiers in order to get more people to buy because you are offering different levels within one product. I also talk about how to use your blog content to actually find your target market and then sell more from your website. 

Of course, I talk about what a sales funnel looks like and what’s involved. So I’ve got four smart ways to sell more of your products. That’s the giveaway. All you need to do is go to or you can text 55download to 38470. 

Are you ready? Do you want my specifics for your funnel? Let’s go ahead and dive in. 

Your first step is to design your survey questions. Remember, your survey isn’t a Gallup poll. You are probably not trying to figure out if your audience is in their 20s or 50s, male or female, or information like that. Before you start drafting your questions take a minute to think about what your survey is really trying to find out about your target market. 

Ramit Sethi, as I mentioned before, has a really high rate of participation with his surveys. The reason, he says, is simple. He only puts questions on the surveys that will lead to direct action. You really need to pay attention to that, direct action. In other words, if the answer to a survey question won’t show him an action he can actually take he doesn’t put it on the survey. 

This was huge for me because in my past surveys I have really messed up on this. What I mean by that is I would ask questions that I thought I should ask. I would think something was a good question to put on the survey. But then I didn’t actually qualify it with a goal like the action I wanted to take from those responses. I would get answers and realize I didn’t even know why I asked the question, I didn’t even really care about that. I wondered what I would even do with the answers. 

This time, every time I wrote a question for the survey, for personal reasons (nobody was going to see it) I wrote “Goal:” and the action I was going to take once I got the information from it. 

Let me give you an example: “What was the biggest business win for you in the last six months? Goal: I want to use the language they are using about wins and accomplishments in my marketing copy.” 

I wanted to find out what a win is to my audience. Are they really big wins or was putting together a To Do List for the day a win for my audience? I wanted to kind of gauge the temperature of wins for my audience. I would use the language they are using to relate to them in my marketing copy. That’s the kind of thing I did this time that I had never done before. 

We all know that endless surveys with loads of questions get really, really boring. You want to steer clear of all of the really lengthy questions in your survey. So make sure that your questions are all focused on the goal of learning something specific about your target market that you will actually take action on. I really need to impress that upon you because it’s so very valuable. 

I have some notes in front of me and I wrote these out. I am going to give you some examples just so you really get it in your body in terms of what I’m talking about here. You are going to hear me shuffle around a little, give me a second, because I want you to really understand. I want you to see it come alive. 

If you are thinking about the bigger picture questions one might be, “Is your audience who you think they are?” 

Maybe you want to find out how happy are they with their fitness level on a scale of 1 to 10. You might want to follow that up with a more specific question so you understand why they are happy or why they are not happy. 

Or, maybe if you are in real estate, “Are you hoping to purchase a home in the next two years?” That will identify if you are talking to the right people. 

For my survey, I led with a question, “Are you currently selling a product?” If they said no I followed it up with, “If not currently selling a product, do you  plan  to  sell something in the next six months?” Sixty-nine percent of my people said “yes” they were selling a product. If they said no, 82% on the next question (Are you planning to sell something in the next six months) said yes. 

This was important to me because I thought I was attracting an audience that already had a product (program, service, event, physical product, online product, all of the above) they were selling, basically. I thought I was attracting that audience but I wasn’t positive. It’s been a while since I surveyed my audience so that was really important for me to know. 

Moving on, I asked, “What do you find relevant?” That’s another big-picture question. For example you might ask, “Do you watch videos to learn  about  exercise  and nutrition tips?” or, “Do you surf the internet to learn about possible neighborhoods or areas where you would like to buy a home?” As you can see, I am using fitness and real estate as examples. 

For me, I asked, “Are you satisfied with your sales results?” I got a whopping 91% of people that said “no.” Why was this important for me to ask? Because if I got a whopping 91% of people that said they were not satisfied with their sales results, and I gave them options such as “Yes, completely satisfied,” “I’m okay with it but I would like more,” and then one that was just “No.” I gave them options. 

What this tells me is that my target audience will find a product about how to increase their sales very relevant for them right now. So we need to make sure we understand what our audience finds relevant. 

Another thing, what product or services in your niche are you already using, that is a big picture one, what other products is my audience actually investing in? I might ask, “Which of these fitness sites do you visit on a regular basis, check all that apply.” I might give an option for “None of them” and they can tell me which fitness sites they are checking out. We always love to know who our competitors are so it is always good to ask. 

Or, as a realtor, “When you are looking for homes for sale do you A) Ask your friends, B) Visit a realtor, C) Use Craig’s list” and I might go on with other options. But I want to find out how my audience is getting information and which products and services they find valuable. 

Another big-picture question is, “What kind of needs does your target market have that are not being met right now?” You might ask the question, “What part of your diet plan is the easiest for you to skip or cheat on?” That is kind of a weird question but you get my point. You are trying to find what part of a diet plan is not working for them right now. 

Or, in real estate, “What are the things you most look forward to about owning your own home?” I ask that one because I want to hear and know why they are doing what they are doing, why are they looking for a home right now. Knowing those emotional points, because it is usually always emotional, will help you reach your audience through all of your messaging. 

I asked my audience, “What are the top two or three things you are most proud of in your business?” and “What’s the part of your business that causes you the most stress, anxiety, or worry?” This allowed me to know what kind of language they are using to describe their wins and what kind of language they are using to talk about their struggles and challenges. This is so very, very valuable and I really want you to get to the emotional side of things. 

I just recently read a great book, Great Leads. I actually think the recommendation came from Derek Halpern of Social Triggers. The word “leads” in the title has nothing to do with growing your email list. Leads would be the leading message or core message you go out with on a sales page or on a marketing piece that leads your audience. 

In that book they talked about meeting your audience and connecting with them on an emotional level. Then the selling becomes seamless. That’s not even an issue anymore if you really meet them at the emotional level that is where it matters most. I really do believe that. I’m a sensitive girl so I get that emotional thing; it comes pretty natural to me. If someone connects with me at the emotional level, heck, I’m sold because I know they get me so I think that is really valuable. 

Another big-picture thing to look at, “What about your current situation needs improvement?” The question, “What would make it easier for you to follow your diet and exercise plan?” These questions I am asking you, of course, are not perfect. You will want to play with them as they relate to your niche. But you also want to be really careful with how you let them respond. 

Every answer shouldn’t be an open-ended paragraph. People do not want to take those surveys. The examples you might give them in A), B), C), or D) really need to be thought about. As much as you know your audience already, use that knowledge. What they are choosing is going to limit you if you put responses A), B), C), and D) and they don’t really relate to them. So just be careful with every word you put in your survey. 

Again, what about their current situation needs improvement; for the home owner, it might be, “What do you wish you could know about a home you are thinking about buying that you usually don’t find out until later?” This is a good question because you are getting beyond the surface with things when you are asking what a person wishes they knew but never find out until later. I think that’s great to go deeper with that. 

With mine, I said, “What do you think are the personal and professional roadblocks that get in the way from generating the sales?” Only people that said they were struggling with their sales saw this. I will talk about using different survey tools to ask your questions. But with Survey Monkey, which is what I used for this, I was able to have people only see certain questions based on the question before and that was really valuable. 

Again, I asked, “What do you think are the personal or professional roadblocks that get in the way from generating the sales?” I asked this one even though I had already asked them their areas of stress, anxiety, and worry. I wanted to drill down more. I wanted to hear how they were explaining this and I wanted to give them another opportunity to talk to me about it. 

Here’s what I found, many people said they are feeling stuck or they are struggling with getting in front of the right people or they are stumbling over the tech stuff. I got a lot of valuable information here. 

Let me give you a little tip, if you use Survey Monkey (I upgraded to the highest level just for the period of the survey and then I downgraded because it’s expensive), when 

you upgrade to the highest level and ask open-ended questions (this was an open- ended question) Survey Monkey will create a word cloud for you. 

That word cloud is a bunch of words or short phrases that people are using over and over and over again. So in this word cloud, if I see the word sales I can click on it and see all of the responses for people under that specific question that mentioned sales in their response. That’s how I knew people were saying “no sales, they “need a sales funnel,” (that did come up when they talked about no revenue), “little sales,” “few sales,” came up over and over again. I would not have gotten that if I didn’t have the cloud. 

I had over 5,000 surveys to get through so there was no way I could read every single one word by word so the word clouds allowed me to drill down. I could then see what people were talking about. So the phrase “feeling stuck” came up so much that it made it into the small word cloud of words most used. Interesting, right? 

Another big-picture question, “What do you feel would set you up for success in the future?” So, if looking forward we want to know what they really need and what will get them big wins in the future we could ask, “If you could have your own personal trainer 24/7 what would you have them keep you accountable on?” That is getting really specific, what do you need to see success? 

For the realtor, “What kind of questions do you hope to ask next time you visit an open house?” Or, you could even ask, “What kind of questions do you want to ask but just don’t ask at an open house?” Just get real with them in that respect. 

I asked, “What do you wish was different about your business right now?” This let me hear a little bit more about their challenges, dig even deeper. I asked it in so many different ways that you would be amazed at how honest people were with me about their struggles. 

That’s another thing, when you build trust with your audience and really build that relationship they want to tell you what they need. I’m telling you, these people poured their heart out. If you were part of it, thank you so much, it was so valuable. 

Here’s another one, “What have they tried before that worked for them in the past?” You would ask, “The last time you felt satisfied with your fitness level what kind of diet or exercise plans were you following?” 

Or, “Describe the last time you left an open house or a meeting with a realtor feeling confident about the possibility of buying a home soon?” Those are obviously more open ended. I try to keep a very few open ended questions because I know people get overwhelmed with that but those are some good questions to ask. 

Another big-picture question is, “What kind of products or services  are  they considering right now for their particular needs?” I didn’t ask this one, but it actually is a really good one. It’s just a little bit difficult to ask. So, if you can find a really great way to ask a question like this, go for it. 

Some of the examples my team came up with are, “Do you plan to sign up for any of the following in the future? A) Personal trainer, B) Weight Watchers or similar accountability program, C) Meal delivery service, D) Gym membership.” We are keeping it general. They did mention Weight Watchers but we are not mentioning all of the different diet plans and programs but just a little bit more in general. 

Or, “What kind of options are you currently exploring for your interest in purchasing a home?” I would then list the options I know they are probably considering and see which one pops up the most. 

Lastly, here is another big picture, if you are curious about what your audience will pay for. Maybe you are newer in the market. I am pretty clear about the price points my audience will pay but if you want just a little bit of feedback about this be careful about how you ask it but if you want to know where their mindset is around price points and what they need in terms of payments and options, a question might be, “What pricing structure appeals to you the most? A) A flat fee, B) Subscription (renewed each quarter or year), C) Monthly membership that expires when you want it to expire, D) Packages with several value tiers, price points, etc.” 

This one is a little tricky and I did not ask it but I wanted to throw it in here because many of you on the survey wanted to know what price you should put on your product. There is a lot of conversation we could have about pricing a product but it wouldn’t hurt to get a little bit of information from your audience about price point and what they are looking for. I would dig into that one a little bit deeper in terms of how you want to ask it as it relates to your niche. 

Now we are going to move into the second step. First we design our questions and now we need to get people engaged with our actual survey. Let me talk to you about ways to get people to actually engage with the survey. 

It never hurts to offer an incentive or to entice people to take your survey by giving away something of free value when they do. I did this where I did a contest and gave away five $100 Amazon gift cards. If you were a winner, congratulations. But I wanted to at least make it worth their time, give me five minutes and you could win $100. It is kind of worth it. 

Contrary to popular opinion, a survey doesn’t have to be dull or dry. You can create a survey that’s quick (quick is a very key word here), enjoyable, and create some excitement around an upcoming product. 

I didn’t mention The Profit Lab in my survey but I definitely asked questions that related directly back to it. And now I have the opportunity to talk about it here on the podcast because we are talking about the survey that I did. There are ways to kind of weave it in and say, “hey, I’m working on a product and this survey is going to help me figure out what you need.” 

You can actually come out and say it if you want. It depends on the level of relationship you have with your audience. I could have definitely done that. But, if it’s a brand new audience or a cold audience (you don’t have a list – we will talk about how to use social media to get some feedback) that’s a different ballgame. So you want to be careful how you set that all up. 

What you do want to do if you offer them an incentive or not you also want to offer them a great experience. Let’s talk about that. 

Give the Survey Your Personal Touch 

If your client (fan or customer) agrees to take the survey it means they actually like you or they like the giveaway. Don’t put on the clinical white coat for the purpose of the survey. Don’t use all corporate speak and serious language. Write the survey the way you would talk to your audience in your blogs and social media or on the phone. Get really personal with them. 

The news agency, Quartz, put on a survey last year. This is interesting, their target market was the hardest group of all to convince to take the survey, busy C-level executives, people who run the world’s most powerful companies. So that kind of person doesn’t usually take surveys. Surprisingly, their email messages got through to these big dogs. 

Here’s what one of the emails actually said, “Are you reading this on a phone, a tablet, a computer, or something else? No, we really want to know. We’re conducting some research on how you like to consume news. Take our survey here:” and then they could click and take the survey. 

I like the “No, we really want to know.” Just kind of surprise your audience with a little bit of personality like that and you are more likely to get them to want to take the survey. 

They also used a personal tone, they provided context, and they led with an immediately answerable question. That’s important. The question you lead with shouldn’t be dull, it shouldn’t take to long to answer, it should be a no brainer for your audience, but interesting enough that they think you do actually care about what they have to say and take the take the bait and answer the question. That’s the kind of thing you want to think about. 

Make the Experience as User Friendly and Smooth as Possible 

Use a platform you have actually vetted for bugs or that people have told you is really good. Survey Monkey is excellent. I think it’s a really good tool to use and I really like the analytics. I am not going to get much into analytics in this episode because it is already getting longer than planned. But I will say that Survey Monkey does a great job at finding out what people say and how to put all that information together to make sense to you, at least at their higher level. 

Pop survey is a different one. Pop Survey looks a little different than Survey Monkey. It is actually a little cooler but I haven’t used it enough to know about their analytics a lot so you will want to do some research. But there are a lot of options out there. Just make sure it is mobile friendly, that’s huge, so that people that want to complete the survey can actually get it done. Being mobile friendly is very important. 

This was something else the Quartz focused on, making sure it was really easy to fill out and a good survey with a good experience. Get this, not only did those top execs (the people that were really hard to get to fill out a survey) fill out the survey, they tweeted it out with praise about how well it was designed. Now that is a winner! 

It really does matter what the survey looks like and the ease of use. Just remember that. Also, a lot of times when (Survey Monkey lets you do this) someone fills out a survey you can have them tweet about it or post about it on their Facebook Page to get other people to fill it out. It really does matter that your survey is enjoyable 

because that will make people want to fill it out, especially if you add an incentive, it will get even more shares; if you tell them to share with five people they will get entered into the contest five more times. I think there is a lot of functionality out there you can research that will allow you to do that. 

Skip the Long Intro When Possible 

If people are on my email list they already know who I am and what I want them to do with the survey because I explain it in the email. When they get to the survey I don’t want them to have to read a big intro before they answer the first question. I just want them to go for it. Keep that in mind, even when you’re using social media, to get people to fill our your survey you do want a little intro there but I’m talking two to three sentences max and that’s all. 

This goes without saying because I think you already know this, but keep thinking in your head that everything you do for the survey is being done to help them. It’s about them. Sure, you want the information to create really great messages with your marketing but first and foremost you need to learn what they need and want so you can help them, serve them better. So it’s all about them. Every time you write a question it still has to be all about them. They will see right through that if it’s not so be really careful with those questions. 

In addition to a really short blurb, if you are including it on social media, there are some helpful things to include when announcing your survey. Tell them how long the survey will take. I usually say, “Give me five minutes.” Be honest about that but tell them how much time you are going to need. Or tell them, “Just answer these six questions.” Or tell them what you want from them, “Help me learn how I can better serve you.” Just come out and say it. Or ask them what you want to learn from them. You can say, “Help me understand how I can better serve you.” Or you can tell them why the survey is important to you. You can say something like, “I want to learn more about you,” or, “Your feedback helps us do a better job of supporting you. You can tell them exactly what the survey is for but still make it about them. 

Once you’ve got your list of questions ready to go there are some ways to tailor them for the best possible results; in other words, to keep people engaged with your survey until they have finished it fully and have reached the end. 

  1. Start the ball rolling with an easy-to-answer question, one that’s kind of interesting to them or at least makes them think you actually really do care like that Quartz example of “Are you reading this from a mobile device, etc.” Start with an easy-to-answer question. 
  2. Keep the entire survey simple. Find the shortest ways to ask the question. Don’t put multiple questions in the same question field and don’t be too complex. Don’t try to write a novel in each question. The shorter the better. You will get more responses. 
  3. Don’t ask leading questions. Questions that lead respondents toward a certain answer will create bias. I think Ramit talked about this as well. Here is an example of what not to do: “We have recently upgraded our product to become a first-class tool. What are your thoughts on the new product design?” In this question you are basically telling the survey takers the changes you made to your product are really good and then you are asking them to tell you in their own words how good they think they are. That is obviously a little leading. 
  4. Ask yes or no questions where you need specific information. If you ask the yes/no question, “Do you have a product?” and they answer “No” you need to know if they are going to create one or sell one in the next six months, yes or no. If a huge portion of people said they did not have a product and no they didn’t plan to do one in the next six months I would have been in trouble because my list would have definitely been targeting people I thought were very different than they were. If you need a yes or no, a black or white answer that’s the way to go. 
  5. Limit open-ended essay questions. Describe what you like about our product is too general of a question. But, asking the top three things a person likes about your product is a lot more manageable. Remember, you will have to sift through all of the responses for every question you ask and you need to take action on all of the responses. So ask them in a way that you can take action. 
  6. Avoid questions that don’t yield much information. A yes or no question isn’t helpful when you are trying to find out a lot of their opinions about what they would choose if they have a lot of options. For example, check all that apply or all/none of the above, is a good way to get a lot of information within a brief question. A long time ago I asked, “Which websites do you follow?” I listed 15 of the top and then gave the choice of “none of the above” or “other” and let them input responses. Most of the people chose from the 15 because I knew my audience well enough to choose those. But you have to factor in some of those options as well. Sometimes it is good, if you have a multiple-choice question, to followup with an open-ended question where they can actually explain their choices well. You give them a little information so they can actually choose something and then have them explain it a little more. It actually takes the thought out of it so they aren’t sitting in front of the computer trying to think of something for you, you are kind of guiding them. But you are not leading them into a bias. 
  7. Be careful when asking “Why?” This is something I learned from my business coach, Todd Herman, who I interviewed not too long ago. When people answer a question one way and you want to gain more insight about it don’t followup with “explain why.” I did that in the survey but then I fixed it. Todd explained this could make people feel like they need to defend their answer. That’s the last thing you want. Instead, take a “tell us more” kind of approach. What I would say is, “If you answered X tell us more about why you feel blah, blah, blah.” I kind of gave them the information there but I didn’t say “why.” I appreciated that Todd pointed that out. Here is an example of what not to do: “In your response above you stated that you do not think a sales funnel would work for your business. Why is that?” I was going to say that. Instead I changed it to say, “In your response above you stated you do not think a sales funnel would work for your business. Do you think your product is not a good fit for a traditional sales funnel? Give me some extra insight into your thoughts here so I can better understand how to support you.” I actually asked them a question. When I asked if they felt their product was not a good fit for a traditional sales funnel I knew my audience well enough to know that would be the answer of some people. If that’s not what they thought then they will tell me what they meant. Or, if that is what they felt they will say “I felt that because of this.” Either way, I got them to engage with that question more by either guessing the right thing. Or, if I guessed it wrong, they will engage more. This was one of the most powerful questions I asked. 
  8. A picture is worth a thousand words. If you can illustrate your question or answers with an image instead of words, do so. I didn’t do this but I have seen this in surveys and I really like it. Don’t make your users read and interpret any more than they have to. You would say, “Does one of these two logos make you more interested in learning about our new weight- loss product?” This works a lot better than asking the audience to “visualize a logo with a clown and now with the numbers 1, 2, and 3. Which one would you be most interested in.” Obviously that’s not going to work. I didn’t ask about any kind of design things. But if you are going to you need to show them what you are talking about. 
  9. Answers are for action. I have said that a million times but this is so valuable. I think this is the biggest takeaway I took from Ramit. When creating questions on your survey ask yourself what kind of action you will take with the answers once you get them. If the answer is, “nothing” or “I’m not too sure,” it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Don’t waste the opportunity. You are only going to get in front of them with the survey once so you’ve got to go for it. 

I always say go with the demographic stuff, like name and email, at the very end. I like to do that as a final wrap up. Then we are done and can move on. A lot of times people are a little weirded out when you ask for their personal information right at the beginning. They question what your angle is because they thought you were going to ask questions about how you feel about things. So getting their name and email right up front can throw them off. 

Now we are getting into the home stretch, how to get your survey into the hands of your audience. We designed our survey, we were really clear about ways to put the survey together so you actually get people to fill it out until the final completion. Now one of the biggest questions I get asked all of the time is if you don’t have an email list to whom do you send the survey. 

Let’s just be honest, if you have an email list you are lucky. That’s going to help you get a lot of responses. That’s exactly what I did. If you have an email list, 100% send the survey out, offer an incentive like Amazon gift cards or whatever you want, and send it more than once. We sent it twice in order to get about 5,000 people to fill it out. It is really valuable to send it twice. Of course, the second you send it don’t send it to anybody that has already filled it out so be careful with that. 

Studies have found that the highest survey open and click through rates occurred on Monday, Friday, and Sunday. I don’t know if this is right for sure. We didn’t use Monday, Friday, Sunday. But if I had found that research before I might have tried it. I never usually send most stuff on Monday or Sunday but I don’t know, it’s something to look for. 

One of the girls on my team said she felt Mondays and Fridays are big because no one wants to work on those days so why not just fill out a survey. I don’t know, she might be on to something. 

Several survey programs have options that help you promote your survey online. Remember, I mentioned this earlier. Using an online option to promote your survey is highly recommended. I actually sent out my survey with a boosted post. I don’t usually recommend boosted posts for Facebook ads but this one worked really well because all you do is create a great graphic for your survey. Remember, if you’re going to boost it that graphic can’t have more than 20% text. The way you find out if your graphic has too much text, just go to That is the grid tool Facebook uses. I usually try to push the limits a little bit and go for 25%, just so you know. 

You can create a really great graphic to grab their attention in the newsfeed and then create text at the top of the post about the survey. From there you can post it on your Facebook Page and then boost that post. You will pay some money to get it out in front of more of your fans. I would just do your fans because you’ve hopefully done a good job of attracting the right kind of fans to your Facebook Page. Even if you don’t have a lot of fans it’s okay. 

Boost that post to get out in front of more of your fans because we all know if we post on our Facebook Page there is a tiny sliver of people that are going to see it. This is something worth boosting because it’s worth investing in. So that’s something I would do right away. 

In the show notes,  I’ll  show  you  an  example  of the survey post I did on my Facebook Page so you can see it and get a good sense of what it looked like. 

We are moving on to the final stages here. One more point about the Facebook post you are going to boost, make sure that in that Facebook post you mention your ideal audience if you need to. Let’s say you are doing something around weight loss, you might want to say, “Hey, if you’ve been struggling with weight loss and you are looking for a solution I just might have that for you. Let me learn a little bit more about you and you have the opportunity to win a supplement pack (or whatever it might be).” 

If you make the prize really relevant to the person taking the survey you are even better off. If you need to you might need to make a disclaimer about whom the survey is for so that if they can’t relate to it they won’t fill out the survey and that’s awesome. You just want to make sure you get the right people to fill it out. 

That’s Facebook. Survey Monkey and Poll Daddy tend to have different tools related to them so that when someone fills out your survey it will encourage them to share it with their Twitter audience or Facebook audience. You might want to actually do that as well. I think it’s a great idea, especially if you don’t have a list. If you have a list you might not need to do any of that. 

I don’t talk about LinkedIn a lot. But there are two great places to post your survey on LinkedIn. The first is the network activity box on the main page of your LinkedIn profile. The second is to post your survey link in the answer section. You can find the answer section in the “more” dropdown menu on the top of your LinkedIn account. In order to reach a large audience on LinkedIn I would use both of those…if your audience is on LinkedIn. I didn’t post mine on LinkedIn. I don’t have a big presence there so I didn’t go there. But you’ve got to know where your audience is spending time. I am sure you already have a good idea about that. 

With Twitter you can send out a tweet that contains a sample question from the survey, “What’s your number one frustration with losing weight? Take this survey and I’ll share my top ten weight-loss tips with you when you do.” You are promising something and are leading with a question on Twitter that will grab their attention and you are getting more people to fill out the survey. 

Of course, to get even more traction with your survey you can ask others to retweet it as well. You can include a retweet link or whatever you want to do with that. But retweeting is always good. 

If you wanted to go the extra mile you could make a short video and post it on YouTube. I went over video in a past episode (#52) recently, video is hot on Facebook. So why not make a quick video telling people you created a survey, you will tell them whom the survey is for, “This is why I did it (remember, make it about them). It will take you three minutes to fill out. I greatly appreciate it. Just click the link in this post. And, you could win $100 Amazon card.” 

I didn’t make a video but I should have. I would post it on Facebook and I would post it on YouTube. 

If you belong to any other online groups, forums, private Facebook groups, masterminds send a link to the survey to people you know well. You might not have a big email list but I bet you have a network of people you really admire and trust. Ask them to do you a favor. Ask them to fill out the survey or send it to someone that would find value in it. 

Remember, if it’s for a very targeted, specific group then you want to make sure that only people that are really relevant to the survey are filling it out. Tell people, “This is for XYZ. If you know anyone like that, please help me out and forward the survey to them.” 

Just remember, you do not need 5,000 people to fill out your survey to start collecting some really valuable information. If you are just starting out and you get 20 people that are valuable people, truly people in your target audience, to fill out the survey you will learn a lot about them. I can promise you that. 

I have a friend, Gina; she is in the early stages of her business. She is trying to find out something very specific, how busy moms who are trying to start a business spend their day, where they are struggling, what gets in the way, how hard it is to be a mom and start a business. What do they wish they had or knew right now to make it easier? 

She hasn’t even started her blog but she is just trying to figure out about busy moms who are trying to start a business. She wants to know what blogs they read, whether they listen to podcasts, who they would turn to if they needed it, and she wants to know (this is important, guys) if you do not read any productivity or organizational blogs or magazines or books or podcasts why not. 

They may answer that they have no time for that or they need to focus more on marketing of their business. You need to meet them where they are at with what they think they want but then you can always also give them what they need. Gina might need to create some kind of Trojan horse if these women feel they don’t have time to learn more about productivity. There’s always a way if they need it. She is just learning more about them right now and I thought that was a great idea. 

She put it into Survey Monkey and guess what she did? She emailed 20 moms that she knew whether they were creating a business or not and just said, “If you are thinking about starting a business or if you already have a business on the side please fill out this survey and please send this out to one other person you think would be in that same target market.” 

We are all her great girlfriends. Of course we would do it for her and would love to see her succeed. That’s where you start if you are starting at the very beginning. It will definitely help you understand your audience more. 

Sometimes you can think about a survey like a first date. If you spend the whole time on your first date talking about you and making sure the person really understands you and what you are about and what you need you are probably not going to get a second date. But if you spend the entire date asking about them and what they like and what interests them, their concerns, their challenges, what makes them tick there is a really good chance you will get a second date. 

That is how I want you to think about the survey. It is all about them. Sure, all of the results are going to be really valuable but you first come from the point, just like anything in business, make it about them. 

Bottom line, when you are creating the survey don’t think so hard about what you are trying to accomplish in your business. Of course that’s going to be in the back of your mind. But think about getting to know your target market more. What do you genuinely want to know about them and what kind of information would allow you to serve them more. I’m telling you, surveys can dramatically change your copy writing efforts; you will get so much more confident in what you write, the kind of content you create in your blog posts and podcasts. 

I can tell you a lot of my podcasts coming out from now on are going to focus on a lot of those core needs in that survey). Why wouldn’t they? That is my target market. 

Hopefully you found all of these tips valuable. I know it was a long, long, long podcast. It was way longer than I anticipated but I had a lot to share about this one. I think it’s so very valuable. Come back to it when you have more time. Maybe listen through one more time and remember this, I have a giveaway that kind of sums up everything I went through here and I added a little more insight there that I didn’t even share on the podcast. So make sure you get your hands on that giveaway. 

It’s called Product Maximizer: Four Smart Ways to Sell More Products Online, it’s absolutely free and it’s way more robust than all of my other PDF giveaways I have done in the past. This one is really in depth how to make more money. I created it directly after I read the survey so I think you will find it really valuable. All you need to do is go to or you can text the phrase 55download to 38470 and you can get instant access. 

Thank you so much for staying with me on this long episode. Thank you so, so much. I cannot wait to talk to you again soon. Have a great week and take care. 

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