Survey Says… User Info is Valuable

Especially when you have a massive quantity of it. Surveys, polls, questionnaires – all serve as marketing tools. If the information is unique enough, it can be the basis for a report. Unique, in this context, is typically a combination of size, specificity and complexity of data. Market reports are finished products that can be directly monetized. There are two main points to be made here:

  1. Surveys as a marketing tool.
  2. Surveys as a source of revenue.

1.  As a Marketing Tool

The easiest way to produce content and gather information is to have others provide it to you. If people know or believe that you will use that information for their collective benefit, they will provide it, willingly. That’s not to say everyone will – between .5 and 10% will – considering lots of variables. The results of a survey can be used for myriad purposes – as the basis for articles and reports, for infographics, to support presentations, to drive business critical to quality components, to help customers, track trends. Simply put, surveys can be applied in many ways and can be of massive organizational value.

Size and Specificity. Loosely, it can be said that the more general the audience or the survey topic, the more people are needed for the survey to be meaningful. The number of people needed to participate in a survey decreases in rough proportion to its specificity. A lifestyles survey with 5,000 random participants provides exponentially less real information than the same survey restricted to people who live in India, Ukraine, or even El Paso. El Paso?

Traditional polling methods also provide good guidelines to structure your surveys by. This is important if you are looking to get precise data and want to narrow your margin of error. As shown in wikipedia.org, a poll of 100 lends to a +/- 10% margin of error, while a poll of 1,067 participants typically has a +/-3% error margin. The structuring of a survey and its sample size guidelines are beyond the scope of this article.

Complexity. This is a separate component where the intention is to break-out data by subsets. A quick example is being able to say that of 50% of those who said they liked strategy games also liked first person shooters, while breaking out other genres.

2. Surveys as a Source of Revenue

Many of the purposes detailed earlier can serve as indirect sources of revenue, in line with traditional marketing. Using survey results to produce a great infographic that can be published and endlessly shared can help increase brand name recognition and are a great way to generate backlinks to your web site. Those who are interested in the details of your infographic have a better than average chance of also being interested in other services you offer. There are plenty of indirect ways to monetize survey results.

How about direct monetization?  Yes!!!  This will require you to do some research, but there are numerous companies devoted to selling industry reports – ranging from sub $100 to several thousands of dollars. Proof.

That may be a high end example, but it should give some developers some ideas. Of course, this expands your role beyond being a mobile app developer, sometimes it is necessary (and profitable) to examine different sources and models of revenue.

You don’t have to stop there. My last article was about finding a sponsor for your app. Well, if you can find a sponsor for your app, you can also find sponsors for your surveys. There are companies actively and aggressively engaged in market research who are open to funding and/or incentivizing your surveys. It could be in the direct form of money, or it could be the allocation of prizes, giving survey participants a chance to win a mobile device or a 25% off coupon on their next purchase on the sponsor’s site. For that matter, you can have multiple sponsors, rotating sponsors, and the bounds of creativity need not end here, either.

Ultimately, while most people stick to writing about what they know, the hallmark of a journalist and of any business that wants to grow is to ask questions. Questions beget answers, frequently leading to more questions. It is the Process that counts.


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Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.

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