Is there any point to postal surveys? Email marketing fits in perfectly with the modern requirement for instant gratification. Press the button to send and there's not enough time for a cup of tea before the data starts arriving.
The particular disadvantage of postal surveys is that the results are historical. The gap between the start of the planning process and the final reply can run into months so it is essential to only ask questions where the answers have a long eat-by date.
If you are considering a new range of products you will want to know how your current customers might react. You could try a questionnaire in an email marketing campaign, but postal surveys have distinct benefits over other methods. A non-exhaustive list would include: interviewer bias is all but eradicated, it is less resource intensive than telephone surveys, an email slot isn’t taken up, you can send the questionnaire to customers who do not buy online or from an email marketing campaign and you can ensure that the returns are easily transferred to a database.
There are a number of essentials to bear in mind for those planning and constructing a postal survey, the first being to ensure that you have clearly defined objectives. Or, to put it another way, be sure in your own mind what the survey is there to discover.
Don’t be vague and suggest ‘finding out what our customers want’ if what you really need to know is whether you are likely to get a reasonable return on your new range amongst your current customers.
Work out who will be in your sample. Avoid partiality unless it is needed to clarify a particular point. Just because a certain demographic is more likely to reply that is no reason to restrict the survey to them.
A face-to-face interviewer will try to build a relationship with the interviewee. This is best established in the covering letter. You need to reassure the subject that it will take ‘n’ minutes, and don’t lie. Get them on you side, perhaps by the promise of a draw or perhaps a coupon. Be brief.
How personal you make the personal questions depends on your demographic. Ease your customers into the process but avoid boring them early on. It is better for them to tick a box number rather than write a number in. Give sufficient options: Excellent, Average and Poor might leave the respondent looking for Good.
Ensure that the questions will generate honest answers, so check for any bias. Most people will favour Yes. None of the answers should threaten the person by making them feel inferior. Those that start: ‘Were you aware’ might suggest they weren't intelligent enough to look. ‘Did we make your rights clear’ is better.
Ask one thing in each question. ‘Was the printer and ink delivered at the time notified’ might be a problem if the ink came two days before the printer. Beware of either/or questions unless there is no third way. With B2B, the addressee might not complete it. Ask the respondent's position in the company.
Believe the results when you test the questionnaire on your staff.
Postal surveys have a lot to offer as a support to email marketing.