What a Survey Can and Can’t Do for B2B Demand Generation


Set appropriate expectations and craft your surveys with care. Here are some top tips for doing both.

I’m a big fan of surveys. When prepared intelligently and applied to relevant programs, they can:

  • Offer a timely, reality-based steer on everything from product development to effective outreach.
  • Prevent us from relying on our own preferences and behavior as “evidence” for what our target audience would prefer or do
  • Dispel internal arguments regarding strategy and tactics
  • Help build a business case for programs and campaigns

Of course, at the data capture level, B2B market research surveys can provide in-depth information on:

  • Market structure
  • Market size and growth
  • Trends
  • Competitors
  • Key satisfaction drivers of  (for sales, channel, customers)
  • Customer requirements
  • Customer loyalty

What surveys won’t do for demand generation is:

  • Provide a timeless portrait of your market. The shelf life of your survey will vary with your industry, but I doubt any survey holds significantly true for more than a year.
  • Tell you exactly what you should do, and how. The direction offered by surveys form demand generation programs is more of a signpost than a map.

In my view, one of the dangers of a marketing survey today is that it’s too easy to set up. Services like Survey Monkey make it so simple to format, distribute and analyze large-scale surveys that marketers can easily fall into the trap of thinking little preparation or process is required. (Not you, though. You’d never do that…would you?)

Before you propose a survey to inform your next demand generation campaign, review these top tips:

  • Brainstorm questions with all stakeholders. This will help you improve acceptance and use of the results later on. It will also help ensure you don’t miss valuable opportunities for extracting info you may not have personally thought of, but is very important to a related department. Don’t forget your sales team in this one!
  • If you develop your survey with an agency, loop them into the thinking behind your questions.
  • It’s time, not length, that affects completion rates. Don’t worry if your survey is five questions or 25. If those 25 questions require simple multiple-choice answers, your respondents will still be able to complete the survey within the 5-10 minute timeframe generally considered ideal for marketing surveys.
  • Test, test, test. To clock completion time and ensure smooth operation, have a few trusted contacts in your target audience take the survey and report their experience. If you can only test the survey in-house, that’s better than nothing, but testing on targets will be much more accurate.
  • Consider an incentive to increase completion rates and enable personal data capture. If you offer an incentive, announce it in your survey introduction and feature it as an opt-in/out question at the end of your survey. Add fields to capture the respondent’s contact details if they opt in.

Above all, remember that a survey with thoughtful, engaging, non-leading questions will always help increase your completion rates.

Have you found surveys useful in your demand generation efforts? Please share your successes (and disappointments) in the comments.

One Response to What a Survey Can and Can’t Do for B2B Demand Generation

  1. Great post Lauren. I too am a fan of survey’s for B2B lead gen and can only add this comment to yours. Construct your survey in a manner such that it allows for your respondant to control how you treat them post submission. When done well a good survey becomes in a sense an on-line coversation between the marketer and respondant.

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