Art of the Questionnaire (1,359 words)
The Art of the Questionnaire
By Alan Rosenspan
YOU'RE ABOUT TO THROW AWAY a direct mail package, and you suddenly realize, "Wait a minute! There's a real dollar bill stuck in here!" So you continue reading and find out it's a questionnaire and the company sending it is offering you a small reward to "thank you in advance" for filling it out.
What do you do now? Do you answer all the questions honestly and completely, because after all, the company paid for your opinion? Or do you quietly pocket the bill, delight in the fact that you just got something for nothing, and toss away the questionnaire?
We'll come back to you, and the battle for your conscience in a moment. But first, let's talk about questionnaires and what makes them such a powerful direct marketing tool.
Do questionnaires really work? Do they ever! What's an average response to one of your direct mail packages? A typical questionnaire or survey gets response rates as high as 10 percent to 20 percent. And if you're mailing to customers, and not prospects, you can do even better.
We created a questionnaire for Lucent Technologies that generated a 28-percent response. We also did one for Datawatch that generated more than 4,000 responses. I'll let you in on a secret: Questionnaires and surveys work so well, they can be used to boost response even when you really don't care about the answers.
What kind of questions should you ask? The ideal answer, of course, is questions that will yield actionable information. There's really no sense in asking a question unless you plan to do something with the answer. That's the criteria you should apply to every question you consider: "What would we do differently if we knew the answer?" The more unnecessary questions you ask, the harder it will be to get someone to answer the really important ones.