To Buy or Not to Buy, That is the Question Marketers Want the Answer To


Marketers would love to be able to read the minds of consumers. They would love to know what precise combination of price, features, benefits, wants, and needs triggers the decision to buy a particular product. There are many ways to approach this mysterious subject. One that lends itself nicely to online surveys is what is often called a “purchase intent survey.” Here’s how it works.

A survey might ask a question using a five point scale such as:
Which is most true about this product?
__ I definitely will buy this product
__ I probably will buy this product
__ I might buy this product
__ I probably will not buy this product
__ I definitely will not buy this product

You can use information form past online surveys to determine just how these statements translate into actual purchases. For example, you might learn form past consumer behavior that 80% of the people who say they will definitely buy a product actually do. Or you might find that 30% of the people who say they will probably NOT buy a product actually do. (Yes, it’s true that a significant number of people who say they will probably not buy something end up buying it anyway.)

As part of your purchase intent survey you will ask a few questions that will help you build a profile of the respondents. For example, you might ask which newspapers they read or which radio stations they listen to. Now it will be fairly easy for you to target your advertising to those people who “definitely will buy” your product. Since 80% of these people will actually become purchasers, you will earn a fantastic return on your advertising dollars!

You will also gain more valuable data on the relationship between “purchase intent” and actual purchases. The more data you collect, the more accurately you can predict the potential revenues that will be generated by your marketing campaign.

Predicting Impulse Purchases
Conducting online surveys of purchase intent can yield some useful (and profitable!) information, but not every purchase results from a deliberate decision. For example, you go to the drug store to buy cold medicine but you see a candy bar next to the cash register that looks too delicious to pass up. Or you go shopping for a how-to book online but you see an ad for a new mystery by one of your favorite writers and you decide you have to have it. You had no intention to buy the candy or the mystery, but you did anyway.

Online survey software can also be used to predict this sort of unpredictable behavior. You might ask people about the last time they bought something on impulse, with no previous intent. You also could ask what they were planning to buy when they made their impulse purchase. You might find, for example, that a surprising number of people buy candy when they go shopping for cold medicine, possibly as a way to cheer themselves up. This sort of information can help you make decisions about product placement, whether you sell things in a store or online.

You will probably never be able to find the exact combination of factors that will determine purchase intent, but well-designed surveys can give you valuable insights into how customers make up their minds.

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Sending Email Surveys and Tracking Respondents


Sending Surveys via emailWith Mineful's survey tool, you can create a survey respondent email list, send personalized messages, track respondents, and send survey reminders. Our software provides a superior Email List Management tool to send surveys by email. Upload a file with emails/names, create a personalized message, and send the survey. Doesn't that sound easy? Send surveys in 6 easy steps.

VIDEO: Sending Surveys and Forms

Steps to sending a survey by email:

1. Access the Email Management Tool
Click on the Publish link from the survey list or at the top of the Survey Editor page.

2. Create an Email List
Click on the Create Mailing List if this is the first email list you create. If you have already created an email list you can delete respondents, edit their information, or add respondents. You can create as many email lists as you like and track response rates from each. Simply click on Add a Mailing List link at the top right hand side of the survey emails list to add a new list.

Give the Email List a name you can recognize and upload respondents. Currently, we only support uploads in CSV format. The data should be in the following format: email, first_name, last_name. For example, if I was uploading two contacts it would look like this:

james @, James, Smith
joe @, Joe, Johnson

Hit Create!

3. Verify Invalid Addresses
Mineful automatically searches every email to ensure proper email addresses are written. If there are any invalid email addressses, they would be removed from the list and showed to you in a box on the right hand side of your list. Verify these addresses and either add them again to the list or hit create and create your email list without these invalid customer email addresses.

4. Create a Message
Click the envelope icon ("Send a new email survey message") to access the Message editor.
Have you ever received an email that says Hello James (your name)? This means that the sender had not only your email, but also your first name. This is common when you have subscribed for a newsletter or for special offers from a specific company.

You can use the {first_name}, {last_name}, and {survey_link} tags to include the survey respondent's first name, last name, and unique survey URL in the email body message. A short simple example would be:
Subject: {first_name}, this survey will take 2 minutes
Hello {first_name} {last_name},

Please take 2 minutes to provide us valuable feedback on your last purchase.
Access the survey here: {survey_link}

Thank you,

The Mineful Survey Team

5. Sending a Survey Email Message
Your email subject and message are crucial in increasing open and response rates. Please see our article 13 Tips to Increase Email Survey Invitations Response Rates for recommendations on how to design effective survey email invitations.

Select to send message to:

  • All Respondents on the List,
  • Unsent/New Recipients,
  • Survey recipients that have not responded (to send them reminders),
  • Survey recipients that HAVE responded (to thank them for their feedback).

6. Tracking Messages Sent and Response Rates
In the same page where you access the email list, you will find the statistics necessary to track responses. You will see the number of emails sent, the number of respondents, response rates, and which individuals responded to your survey email invitation.

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Surveys for Meeting and Conferences


Tight budgets are forcing many organizations to take a close look at the meetings and conferences they sponsor. While these events can be highly productive and worthwhile, they can also be expensive. Online surveys can help you plan and evaluate meetings and conferences so that you can make the most of the time and resources you put into these events.

Before, During, and After
If you have enough lead time, you can do a pre-meeting survey to help plan the event. For example, you might ask people what kinds of speakers they would like to hear, or what kinds of demonstrations they would like to see. If you are planning a trade show, you could ask what kinds of products and exhibitors people might be interested in. A pre-meeting survey can also give you an idea of how much time to devote to different topics.

If you have the resources available, you could conduct an online survey during the event itself by setting up kiosks in the exhibit area. The main value of this approach is that it gives you an immediate idea of how people are responding to the event, while the experience is still fresh in their minds. Completing a survey also gives people a break between attending presentations or visiting exhibitors.

Most surveys are conducted after an event. In general, the sooner you do the survey the better. People are more likely respond to a survey immediately after an event, and their responses are more likely to provide useful information. The farther away you get from an event, the more responses will be affected by the filter of memory.

The main purpose of conducting a survey after an event is to do a better job of planning similar events in the future. A survey can tell you which speakers people liked or disliked, which exhibitors they found most relevant, and which meals or social occasions they enjoyed the most. A survey can also give you useful information about the event itself — for example, what people thought about the venue, the registration process, and the schedule.

What to Ask
Unless you already have a good idea of who is attending your event, you will probably want to ask a few questions to create a profile of attendees. For example, you might ask, “Which industry does your company operate in?” or “What was your main reason for attending this conference?”

You will also probably want to ask about the event itself. For example:
• How would you rate the conference facility?
• How would you rate the ease of registration?
• How would you rate the conference publications?

As we have already seen, it is common to ask about the speakers, the program, and the exhibitors. This information is less important as an evaluation of the present conference than as a tool for planning other conferences in the future.

As with any survey, there is no point in asking a question about something that you would never consider changing. For example, if you are committed to holding future meetings at the same site, there is no reason to ask people to suggest a different one.

By the same token, you should try to make people feel that you are actually listening to their responses to your survey. For example, if the great majority of people found one of the speakers boring and uninformative, it would probably be a mistake to invite that person to speak at your next conference.

If you ask the right questions and you pay attention to the responses, surveys can help you plan events that almost everyone — including you — will consider worthwhile.
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8 On/Off Survey Options in Mineful's Online Survey Software


This brief article touches on the 8 different switch on/off options available when creating surveys using the Mineful's online survey software. If you are currently a user of Mineful's survey software, you can benefit by learning all available options to you. If you are considering Mineful as your survey software provider, you can learn all available options to create and publish online surveys.

Online Survey Software "Switch On/Off" Options When Creating Surveys
After you have created a survey, you can access the survey options by clicking the Options menu button Survey Options at the top of the page.

  • Create Page Progress Bar - Turn on this survey option to allow respondents to see the percentage of questions they have responded on the survey.
  • Display Question Numbers - By default, your survey includes the question number on the question text. Switch of this option to make the question numbers disappear.
  • Display Borders - Do you want your survey questions surrounded by boxes? Turn this option off to make the borders around each question disappear.
  • Allow only one submission per user - This option can be turned on to allow only one survey submission for each recognized cookie. We also call this the Duplicate Entry Protection when online surveys are published via links.
  • Allow user to exit Survey - Turn this option on to display a link on the top right of the survey respondents' page that would close the browser window and exit the survey.
  • Disable back button - This option disappears the back button link so users cannot go back to a page and edit their responses.
  • Notify me of new entries - For every new entry to your online survey, you will receive an email to the address provided in the account with each new individual response.
  • Share with Company (Business Account) - Share your survey with all users of your company. Alternatively, you can select each individual user by clicking the "Share with individual users" option and selecting which users to share the creation, publishing, and viewing of results with.
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Making Your Case to Management


The Internet has created a new era in market research. Online surveys, coupled with the latest analysis tools, provide unprecedented insight into what customers want and need. To make the most of this information, market researchers need to present it to upper management in a clear, persuasive way. They need to demonstrate how market analysis can have a direct effect on their organization’s bottom line.

Bursting the Tech Bubble
When people talk about the “tech bubble,” they are usually referring to the inflated price of technology stocks around the turn of the century. But there is another kind of tech bubble — the bubble of knowledge that sometimes isolates experts from the decision makers in an organization. To reach those decision makers, market research experts need to burst the bubble and present their findings in a meaningful way.

First, you need to take a hard look at the language you are using. Every profession has its own jargon, and market research is no exception. Statistical tools can be very powerful, but the language of statistics can be impenetrable to managers who have no training in the field. In presenting the results of your analysis, use everyday English and standard business terminology. Show managers that you speak their language and understand their concerns.

Second, make it visual. Many people, even upper-level managers, have trouble understanding the significance of statistics. Fortunately, the latest online survey software gives you a variety of ways to present the results of surveys in visually appealing ways. For most people, a bar chart is much more meaningful than a column of numbers. Just remember to keep your charts and graphs clean and simple. A pie chart with 18 slices is not going to be very appetizing.

Third, stay focused on significant business issues. Your research may have uncovered all sorts of interesting information about customers, but you need to decide what’s really important. Remember that people have a limited attention span. Don’t clutter up your presentation to management with insignificant details.

Overcoming Resistance
In making your case to management, keep in mind the human factor. In many cases, successful managers have earned their positions because they have a history of making good decisions. Many of those decisions may have been based on gut instincts and intuition — what executives like to think of as good judgment. Top-level executives are often paid handsome salaries for their judgment, so why should they rely on your numbers rather than own instincts?

The key to overcoming this type or resistance is understanding how receptive to your message executives are likely to be. With some executives, you may need to present your analysis as just a refinement of your organization’s marketing plans. With others, you may feel free to challenge some basic assumptions about the best way to attract and keep customers. Remember that what you are doing is actually a kind of internal marketing. Your customers are the people who run your organization, and you need to come up with an effective way to get them to buy into your message.

Finally, be sure to show management that you are focused on the future, not the past. From a business perspective, online surveys are useful mainly as a tool for predicting customer behavior. Use your results to do a “what if” analysis of changes your organization might make to keep your existing customers and win new ones. Don’t be afraid to remind decision makers that there is a direct relationship between customer satisfaction and profitability.
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Measuring Customer Satisfaction


Whether you’re selling hot dogs or homeowners insurance, keeping your customers satisfied is essential to the survival and success of your business. Fortunately, the latest online survey software simplifies the task of collecting and analyzing data on customer satisfaction. These are powerful tools, but to use them most effectively you need to be careful not to define customer satisfaction too narrowly. Let’s take a broad look at this topic and then consider some specific aspects of customer satisfaction that you should probably be measuring.

Beyond Smiley Faces
Broadly defined, customer satisfaction is a measurement of how well your product or service meets your customers’ expectations. If you are not meeting your customers’ expectations, they may start to look elsewhere for their hot dogs or homeowners insurance. If you are meeting their expectations fully, they are likely to stick with you, unless they think one of your competitors is offering something better. If you exceed their expectations, not only will they stick with you but they might even recommend you to their friends.

A customer satisfaction survey usually includes a general question like, “Overall, how satisfied are you with Henry’s Hot Dogs?” That’s not a bad question, but the information it provides is not all that useful. What does it mean if a customer gives your product four smiley faces rather than five? How will you use that information?

To get more valuable information out of a customer satisfaction survey, you need to be more specific. People have expectations about all sorts of things. An effective survey about homeowners insurance might ask customers how satisfied they are with your product in terms of:

• Price
• Ease of purchase
• Breadth of coverage
• Helpfulness of customer service personnel
• Explanation of policy terms

You might also ask customers which of those items is most important to them in deciding whose policy to buy. Then you can use a technique called multivariate analysis to determine which areas of customer satisfaction offer the greatest opportunities for improvement. For example, suppose that most customers thought “breadth of coverage” was “very important” but they were only “somewhat satisfied” with the coverage your policies offered. This would obviously be an area that you would want to address. (This is a simplified example. Multivariate analysis can actually produce much more sophisticated measurements of how different aspects of customer service are related.)

Measuring the Intangibles
It’s important to ask customers how they feel about the attributes or benefits of your products, but you can’t stop there. Purchasing decisions involve more than just an objective evaluation of competing products. These decisions are also affected by brand loyalty and other intangibles that can be difficult to measure.

One way to evaluate brand loyalty is to simply ask how long a customer has been using your products. You might also ask how often a customer chooses products from your competitors. A less direct approach is to ask customers to rate your products in terms of overall quality. This type of question will not give you detailed information, but it will tell you how customers feel about your products in general. You can also get a sense of this by asking two crucial questions:

• Do you think you will purchase our product the next time you need hot dogs?
• Would you recommend our products to friends?
Some marketers believe that the second question is essential in any customer satisfaction survey.

Keeping It Current
Markets are constantly changing. New competitors and new products may enter the field, and you may need to adapt to changes in the needs and expectations of customers. To keep up with these developments, you need to review your customer satisfaction surveys frequently to make sure you are asking the right questions.
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Market Research and Social Media


The incredible popularity of Facebook and other social networking sites has given marketers something to think about. Is there a way to use the social networking model to conduct market research? Some very heavy hitters in the field think there is.

Starbucks Brews a New Blend
In 2008 Starbucks launched a website called The stated purpose of the site was to solicit ideas from customers about what Starbucks might do differently. It has certainly done that. One customer wanted Starbucks to make ice cubes out of coffee so they wouldn’t dilute drinks when they melt. Others have requested more vegetarian food options, gluten-free pastries, and new coffee flavors, such as dark chocolate mocha. (Dark chocolate mocha turned out to be a winning idea. Starbucks started offering it soon after it was suggested.)

But the site has done more than just solicit ideas. It has created a virtual forum for people who like Starbucks. Once someone makes a suggestion, the topic is open for discussion. People share their opinions and their stories about Starbucks experiences. Then registered members vote on suggestions. A team of “Idea Partners” at Starbucks collects the most popular and most innovative ideas and presents them to key decision makers within the company.

Like Facebook, creates a kind of online community, a place where people with similar interests can connect with each other. The depth of community spirit shared by employees and customers can be surprising. One member posted a story about a barista who donated one of her kidneys to a regular customer!

On a more commercial level, the site can be a valuable tool for market research. The voting process is a kind of online survey. It gives Starbucks useful information about what its customers want and value. The idea behind the site actually came from another company known for its marketing innovations. In 2007 Dell launched a site called to reinvigorate its business by learning more about what its customers were looking for. Like the Starbucks site, uses a kind of social networking as a way of doing market research.
Starbucks and Dell obviously have the IT resources to manage this type of program, but smaller firms can create their own programs with help from consultants who specialize in online surveys.

Market Research and Online Communities

Starbucks and Dell use a “bigger is better” approach to social media marketing. Their sites are open to anyone who wants to join. Other companies are taking a very different approach. They are creating small, carefully defined online communities that function more like focus groups.

This type of online community is a group of people with common interests. Like other online communities, it features member profiles, discussion forums, online chat, and uploaded photos. Keeping the community small allows members to get to know each other and feel comfortable holding discussions online. Market researchers uses ideas generated by these discussions to create online surveys. BusinessWeek has an interesting article on Who uses social media?

Some nonprofit organizations have been experimenting with this type of community to learn more about the needs of the populations they serve. With help from consultants, the Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center created a community of patients to learn how people decide where to go for treatment. They discovered that most patients put more weight on recommendations from personal physicians than on the reputation of a treatment facility (

Such smaller communities offer two advantages: they are easier to set up and they allow an organization to focus on a carefully selected group of customers or clients.

Whether the community is large or small, social media offers an exciting new approach to market research that is sure to keep growing.
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