Surveys are for closers: How to use your survey results to reach new customers

These tips will help you generate press and win new business using survey results

Wow. Congratulations. Your survey has gone down really well. All the right people have been answering and the data you’ve got back is looking comprehensive. 

Now you’re starting to think about how you’re going to maximise the benefits you get from sharing the results. 

Regardless of whether you’re surveying for internal usage or for gaining some extra attention for your business in the press or online, you’re going to want to think about how to increase the exposure you get from sharing your survey results. 

And more than that, to present them in a way that people will feel a connection to them. 

Dan Tyte, Managing Director of Working Word, has a fantastic story to tell about how you can leverage survey results to generate huge exposure for your company. 

One of Dan’s clients at Working Word is London Mint. 

The brief was to launch a silver threepence coin. The threepence was introduced by King Edward VI in the 16th century and ended up being in circulation for 500 years, making it one of Britain's longest serving coins.   

“We figured coin collecting was probably something older folks were into more than younger ones, so focused the survey questions around hobbies and the difference between generations,” says Tyte. “The data showed us there was a disconnect and older generations felt that if they shared a hobby with their kids or grandkids, it’d be a good platform to spend more quality time together. Most of us have some form of family. Significance. Tick.” 

Working Word got Sir Tony Robinson involved in the campaign. He played Baldrick in classic sitcom Blackadder, about a time traveller (just like the coin), and then presented an archaeology show called Time Team. He’s a very recognisable face in UK households. Prominence. Tick.  

Baldrick Tony Robinson

This story, cleverly crafted by the team at Working Word won press coverage across the UK nationals and regionals including The Independent, The Sun,  Mail Online, The Daily Express and The Daily Telegraph.   

But they didn’t stop there.

“We also found a case study: John and Jacob Gamble, a father and son who lived apart who said coin collecting brought them closer together. Human Interest. Tick,” Tyte continues. “We shared their story with their local BBC network. Proximity.  Tick.  BBC loved the story so much they shared a video of the two on their main Facebook page to 1m+ followers.”

Sales of the coin broke London Mint records.

Adding interest

These 5 tips will make your survey data more interesting

When you’re thinking about how to share your survey results, weave them into a story. 

Whether it’s to editors in a press release, or if you’re just writing blogs/email updates, make your story compelling by considering these five things.

“Not all stories need stats, but all stats need a story. Think about what makes a good story full stop. Historically, news editors have always looked for these five things” says Tyte when asked how to hang a story on survey results.

  1. Timing — It’s news not olds, after all.  
  2. Significance — How many of their readers, viewers or listeners does the story affect? 
  3. Proximity — Where’s your story happening?  
  4. Prominence — Who’s telling it and does the wider public know them? 
  5. Human Interest — Have you got people who can bring the data to life?  

Don’t underestimate the value of survey results

As the case study that Dan Tyte shared with us above shows, survey results can be a powerful way to give a story lift and attract the attention of people who can broadcast your message far and wide. 

A lot of people think about sharing survey results in a very linear, boring way. They’ll sit down with the spreadsheet of their data, then pull out numbers and write a blog post containing things like: 

’63% people say that they prefer Coke to Pepsi’

But that’s totally neglecting the value of the data you’re sat on. 

Here’s a better way to think about sharing your survey results: 

No-one.

No-one. In the world. 

No-one. In the world. Has access to the insights you do. 

That’s already incredibly valuable. You have a completely unique piece of information that you’re able and willing to share with the world. You no longer need to fill your blog posts, tweets and press releases with recycled stories that you’ve found on the web. 

This is primary research. 

And here’s the really fantastic news about that: Because it’s primary and fresh, you’re able to craft a story around your data in a way that lets you own the narrative. As long as you don’t distort what the data says, you can tell a compelling story around it in any way you choose. 

It’s also not just about helping you craft a story better. It’s also about helping you market more efficiently – and sell more stuff. 

For example, take a look at this fantastic conversation between Joanna Wiebe and Anna Bolton about how Bolton used survey responses to tailor the marketing pages for a course directly to her customer base. 

Bolton took what her audience told her and rather than just sharing the survey responses, in a boring old format, she used them to lift the messaging of her sales page to increase conversions for a course she was helping to market. 

So to recap: 

  1. Use survey responses to inform a story – this generates impact and makes them relatable
  2. Use survey responses to tailor messaging – by speaking directly to your target audiences’ problems, you’ll convince them that you are going to solve their pain
  3. Think about using survey responses in unique, non-linear ways – and for more on how to do that, read on Magellan!

The content lifecycle: how you can generate multiple valuable marketing assets from a single survey

  • Tired: I can only use this survey result in one way
  • Wired: I can chop this up, repurpose it, reuse it multiple times.

When I was in journalism school back in 2010, the whole industry was changing. Suddenly, the budgets at media organisations were being slashed and jobs were being completely cut. 

So the emphasis for everyone was: do more with less. 

And that’s why we were taught about the content lifecycle. 

The content lifecycle is a way of taking ‘pillar content’ – essentially a large, detailed piece of content (in our case survey results) – and pulling out smaller chunks of content in different formats, that can be shared with different outlets, with different goals. 

Case study: Engaging in tough times survey

We start with a big set of survey data. For example, here’s a picture of a survey that I did recently on how people are engaging with their customers/staff/stakeholders during the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Example of survey on doopoll

If we apply the content lifecycle to this piece of content, we can do a bunch of meaningful things to increase the reach we’ll get from sharing the results.

Generally, I like to start by tweeting out a couple of screenshots of charts. Here’s an example: 

Look, that chart isn’t even branded. In fact, it’s downright ugly and it took me seconds to make it in Google Sheets. 

I shared this chart on social media with the call to action to take part in the survey and pretty much instantly, the number of results I got doubled. 

Pro tip: don’t think you need to wait until the end of your survey to start sharing the results. doopoll does reporting in real time so you can generate shareable content to increase engagement while the survey’s still live. 

Later that day, I created a quick template on Canva and shared some more charts on Twitter (I did the same thing on LinkedIn and Facebook). Again, big uptick in responses right away. 

From doing that, I included the results in a blog post about how to engage with customers through surveys during the Coronavirus crisis. 

This is a piece of thought leadership. It both establishes us as a brand who care about being helpful and also as a company that engages with customers through surveys. 

I shared that from both personal and company accounts. 

Additionally, I shared it directly with a private group for comms people that I’m part of on Facebook. 

Example of sharing survey results in private group

Revisiting the results a week or so later, we realised that there was an additional bit of value we could extract from them. 

Create your own survey at doopoll.co

The survey result from above shows that people were beginning to feel that their business had been negatively affected by Coronavirus. 

We saw this as a chance to provide extra value to our customers by highlighting some of the ways they were adapting to this situation. 

I sent out this email to all of our paying customers: 

Example of email using surveys to realign marketing messages

A number of customers responded to that quick survey. I used their responses to give them a shout out on social media. 

Here’s an example: 

Creating content like this produces not only added value for the customer but also has a few side benefits for our business. For example: 

  • Adding value increases customer satisfaction – businesses with high customer satisfaction levels will refer other to the business organically. You won’t need to ask them.
  • Creating content like this increases the likelihood that people will reshare the shout out on social media – this is great for the customer but also great for our brand. 
  • People are more willing to share content that isn’t a sell – we’re promoting our customers and their goals with content like this. Even if no-one did anything with it, at least we’d be building the kind of world we want to live in. But it’s hard to provide a KPI for this one  

This survey received about 170 responses total, so I wasn’t likely to get a story placed in any of the news outlets I would normally go to with a story like this. 

However, we were able to generate significant exposure and interest around the coronavirus story, because we’re uniquely placed to talk about surveys in the coronavirus crisis. 

It’s a weird old world, eh? 

In time, as we move on from Coronavirus, I’ll go back and update all the marketing workI did around that set of survey results to reflect a more ‘evergreen’ crisis message. 

This is the final stage of the lifecycle: evergreen content from timely content. 

There’s an opportunity at every step in the lifecycle.

If you’re not sold on the idea yet, and want to hear someone with an absolutely massive online audience tell you the same thing, here’s Mr Marmite himself, Gary Vaynerchuk on what he calls the ‘content model’. 

Like him or not, he’s repurposed an old publishing technique (we were taught the exact same technique at journalism school) in a fantastic way. 

Other creative ideas for sharing survey results

As well as the examples we listed above, I’ve pulled together a bunch of free ideas which you can steal directly from me so that you can share your results in a more interesting way. 

We’ve tried to get outside of the box with most of these but there are some that are pretty basic, but very effective too (such as infographics). 

Here we go. 

Generate a news story

(heck, you can get a couple if you’re smart)

Here’s a useful article by Hubspot on how to write a press release. There’s a lot of good stuff in here but I can tell you from being on both sides of the table, that most editors prefer to receive the press release in the body of an email as opposed to a document. 

Write a short personalised intro (because you’ve done what Dan said and read their stuff you should know a bit about them). Here's more tips from Dan:

Batterrr up!

What are Dan’s top five tips for pitching editors with survey results?

  1. Read, listen or watch their stuff.  You’re dying for them to cover your story.  Take the time to see the kind of stories they cover first.
  2. Make your approach bespoke. Don’t fire out the same pitch to everyone. Brian doesn’t want to be called Brenda. 
  3. Get to the point.  Sharp.  Why would their audience be interested in what you have to say?
  4. Explain your offer.  Have you got a press release? Pics? Case studies they can speak to? Video?
  5. Give us a shout at Working Word.

How many survey responses are needed to get press coverage?

Assuming you’re not allowed to answer with ‘how long’s a piece of string?’, how many survey responses do you think news outlets are looking for when considering a pitch from a business? 

Dan Tyte said: “A general rule of thumb is that the media won’t consider your survey as representative of the general public unless you have at least 1000 responses and, in some cases, 2000 responses.  You can get away with less if you’re polling a niche audience (surgeons, for example, or head teachers, or zookeepers).”

Create an infographic and put it behind a content upgrade (Watch those emails roll in) 

An infographic is a crazy simple way to share your survey results. 

Periodic table of SEO factors 2019 by Search Engine Land

If you’re somehow not familiar with the format, an infographic is a simple way to share a bunch of data points in a visual format. Here’s are some examples (although granted, they’re not about surveys) from this very useful article by Ahrefs

Hopefully you can see how valuable this format can be in generating attention for your data set and message online. 

You’re practically wrapping up an interesting piece of data up in a bow and asking people who are longing for more original content (bloggers, publishers) to put it on their site with a link back to your site. 

That’s free traffic. And if you get your conversion funnel right, that’s free money. 

Package it together as a report and use it to collect emails

Our friends at Careercake are brilliant at this. They ran a survey of millennials in the workplace – and we know that people want to understand millennials, right. 

So how do you marry the info that Careercake gathered and their potential customers’ desire for understanding millennials? 

Easy. You produce a report of exclusive insights, put it behind a gated content wall and watch the qualified leads roll in. 

Shazam. 

That’s exactly what the hümans at Careercake did. They produced a report called the Millennials in the Workplace report, and asked for a email, name, position, company name in order to send you the report. 

That’s a whole lot of great marketing opportunity garnered by a simple survey and a neatly designed PDF. 

How could you use your survey results in this way? 

Create a short infographic video – this is so easy to do now

For a bunch of our customers in the past, we’ve generated custom infographic videos. 

Here’s an example of how this could look on a basic level: 

In the above example, I just formatted all the responses from the survey in a slightly more visual way and then added them to a slide show I made in Keynote.

You can export Keynote slides to video and add music in the background using a tool like iMovie. 

Alternatively, we’ve also made a bunch of videos sharing survey results through Animoto. Animoto is good because you don’t have to use any additional software to create nice videos, plus, they automate a lot of the timing. 

One downside is that the customisation options are pretty basic. 

Swings and roundabouts: you get more control if you build something yourself in Keynote. You get speed if you build in Animoto (or Canva).

Either way, what you do get is a shareable piece of content that makes even the most boring topics seem exciting (because, you know, the numbers are animated!)

Write a blog post about the main findings of the survey – then write a series of shorter posts, linking references from the introductory blog post 

This is a classic it of content lifecycle strategy. 

In fact, it even applies to this very post where we’ve linked out to other articles that go deeper on points we only have time to gloss over in this one. 

The benefit of sharing data like this is that it’s more likely to rank in Google. 

I first learned about this technique from Nat Eliason who runs the SEO agency Growth Machine.

He calls it the wiki strategy: 

When you read a Wikipedia article, the body of the article only links to other Wikipedia articles. This helps ensure that there are consistent quality standards for everything referenced in the article, but more importantly, it keeps people on the site.

And that’s essentially what we’re talking about here, albeit in a different context. 

We’re looking to keep people on our site for as long as possible, because the more touches a person has with the doopoll brand, the more it establishes us in their minds as a viable tool to use to build their email list or run their next survey. 

You can transfer this principle to your own company. 

Let’s say you’ve done a survey about attitudes to remote working and you’re an outsourced HR support company. 

You want more businesses to switch from in-house HR to your cheaper, on-demand service. 

Your survey may have asked questions like: 

  1. When you are working from home, do you feel that you are trusted by your line manager?
  2. When you are working from home, to what extent do you feel productive? 
  3. What working from the company office, how many times a day on average do you take bathroom breaks?
  4. What working from home, how many times a day on average do you take bathroom breaks?

Here’s what you’ll get back: responses to those four questions. 

TIRED: Create a single piece of content that contains all the data about each one of those questions, and maybe flesh it out with a couple of stats you found elsewhere on the web. 

WIRED: Create an overarching narrative of the survey and go into real depth as above. But link out at relevant points to ‘sub-posts’ on the topics in question. This is called topical depth. 

Take the fictional survey I told you about above. Here’s what I’d do. 

Write one ‘wiki’ piece of content about remote working linking out to all of the following in relevant places: 

An light hearted blog post on what homeworkers do more or less of during the day – include the examples of bathroom breaks. This is a great opportunity to educate people around employment law and bathroom breaks too. 

Here’s the Ahrefs data on the top result for ‘how many bathroom breaks can i take at work’. The estimated traffic value for this page alone is $343 – meaning the approximate amount of money people pay to have their ad at the top of searches that this page ranks for organically. 

Ahrefs article overview

I’d also write a short post on tips from employees on how to be a better manager and link to it where I discuss the survey result for ‘When you are working from home, do you feel that you are trusted by your line manager?’

Then I’d summarise the current research around productivity of home workers and create an infographic or a report of that. I’d include my own original survey findings in there as the key ‘hook’.

These are just four pieces of content from four survey questions. If you have a lot more questions, you can obviously do a heap more. 

Just make sure that you align the content you’re creating to problems that people are searching for.

I promise, if you follow that strategy, and execute well, you’ll see your site’s performance on the internet rise like ours has (see below) – and we’re only at the bottom of the curve right now: 

Search performance for doopoll.co

Offer to write guest posts for relevant sites 

Look, if you’ve already done the work in collecting responses and then creating content based on them, you may as well get some exposure for it. 

One way to do this is to leverage on the audiences that other people in your industry or parallel industries have already built. 

How best to do that? 

Guest posting. 

Guest posting is when you write a post (usually an original piece) for a different site and get a link back to your site. 

Now, to provide real value, make sure that you’re pitching good, authoritative content based on your survey results. 

And give away a lot of value, but save some so that when people come to your blog, they’ll stay longer. 

Guest posting can be a bit demoralising and the results can be really depressing if they don’t go as you expected. Also, don’t pay to have your post published – this is not good practice and no-one’s really sure whether it’s something that Google will punish you for.

If you collected personal information, follow up with respondents and try to do a quick interview. 

Remember when I sent out an additional survey to our customers based on the responses that came back from our survey? 

Well, this is a variation on that theme. 

If you’ve collected personal information such as an email address, a good way to build content around your survey results, and get a human angle, is to line up a quick interview with some of the respondents to your survey. 

I actually use surveys as a way to source experts for our blog. Here’s an article I wrote off the back of a bunch of survey responses from HR professionals.

Here’s a template you can use for your emails to respondents: 

Free template

Email template for follow up request with survey respondents

Hey {{Their Name}}, 

Thanks for taking part in my survey on {{topic}}. Just following up on the answer you gave to {{summary of question}}. 

I thought that was a really interesting answer. Would you mind if we did a 10 minute video call so I can use your example as a blog post? 

Here's what I'd love to cover on that call: 

  1. I'd like to just get a bit more detail on your response
  2. I'd love to hear any practical examples of how {{topic}} impacts your work
  3. I'd also like to get your thoughts on some of the general findings of the survey

I'll use all of the above to write a short blog post and I'd be happy to link to your website in the blogpost, if you like. 

I have some time on {{day}} at {{time}}. Does that work for you? If so, I can send you a calendar invite with a Zoom link. 

Thanks, 

{{Your Name}}

Don’t forget to consider the following: 

  1. How are you planning on conducting the interviews? – Video works really well as a base because you can reuse it in text, image and smaller video formats. A simple zoom call recording will work just fine.
  2. How will you package this together with your survey results? 

On the topic of packaging together, here’s a good outline to follow for a blog post based on your survey results and a short interview with a respondent: 

  • Interesting hook: ‘Ever get the feeling that you are being followed?’
  • Survey result: ‘Well, you’re not alone! 67% of respondents to our survey agree with you.’
  • General research: include some stats from other surveys or sources on this topic. 
  • Interview introduction: ‘Meet Frank. He’s a shipping expert from Baltimore, Maryland. And he’s also convinced people are following him.’
  • Interview quote
  • Dive back into the survey to confirm what Frank said. 
  • Include Frank’s comments on the survey
  • Encourage a discussion on the topic in the comments to your blog!

And that’s the sort of thing I would do to flesh out the results of a survey where I’d collected personal information from respondents.

If you’ve done the same survey before, make it a ‘calendar event’

You know you sometimes read about those ‘annual surveys’ that famous companies do? Well, those have huge publicity potential.

And the great news is that with a bit of long term thought and investment, you can do that too. 

Here’s a good example from Orbit Media who run an annual blogging statistics survey. They ask a series of questions around topics like:

  • How long does it take to write a blog post?
  • How long is the typical blog post?
  • How frequently do bloggers publish?
  • What content formats are bloggers using?
  • What does the typical blog post include?
  • How many draft headlines are bloggers writing?
  • Are bloggers working with editors?
  • How is your content typically promoted?
  • How often do bloggers research keywords?
  • Are bloggers using analytics?
  • Is it part of your strategy to update older blog posts?
  • Are bloggers getting results from their content?

This supports their content creation efforts allowing them to produce great looking, authoritative graphics like this one which shows that the least common blogging tactics are the most effective: 

Orbit Media graphic showing survey results in more detail

And it’s not just about being able to generate charts. If you execute this strategy correctly it can become an industry event gaining you long term notoriety, traffic and authority in your chosen industry.

As an example, The State of Javascript survey happens every year and is something that Javascript developers look out for every year. The managers of the survey Raphaël Benitte, Sacha Greif and Michael Rambeau have all benefitted from the organisation and administration of this survey in terms of traffic to their sites, and ultimately, chances to build better audiences online. 

What’s the annual survey missing in your sector? And could you fill that gap?

Create tweets which pose the stats in a question form. Invite followers to guess at the correct answer. Closest answer wins. 

I’ll be honest here, I haven’t tried this approach to sharing my survey results but it’s something that I’m going to try soon.

Here’s why:

Survey results are often like unique pieces of trivia. 

People on the internet absolutely love being entertained by trivia

Providing a quick bit of guess work for them will help engage your audience

When an audience is engaged, they share and talk to their people

All of the above helps to extend the reach of your survey results. 

And as I said, while I haven’t used this exact strategy yet, I can tell you that making gamified tweets really does have an impact. 

Here’s a tweet I prepared recently. It went down very well and engaged our audience in a genuinely exciting way: 

How would you replicate this concept for survey results? 

You’ll need to choose an interesting result from your survey and write something like this: 

Lithuanians love hamburgers but our survey shows that 67% of them would prefer what to a hamburger? Tweet us a picture of what you think they prefer.

OK. That’s a weird example but maybe you’re in the eastern European fast food market and that makes total sense. 

Also, the replies to that would be genuinely hilarious.

Prepare a slideshow on the topic, invite potential customers to a webinar where you’ll talk through the survey’s findings

Going back to normality (I bet the answer to the Lithuanian thing is skydiving BTW), you could take a more corporate view of your survey results and use them as some collateral for a webinar. 

Send your survey findings to your design or marketing teams, and ask them to produce a really nice presentation for you. 

Then create an invite to a webinar and ask people to sign up to hear the exciting findings of your survey. 

We actually do this with our livestream events. Here's an example of how I used a survey to engage the audience on our livestream both pre and during the broadcast:

Again, this generates interest from your audience, creates shareable content and captures new email addresses which give you an opportunity to sell to more people.

Build an interactive minisite

One last idea here and I really love this one. 

Some people have shared their surveys as interactive websites. This, as you’ll probably understand, is most popular in the web design industry. For example, here’s a survey mini site done by popular code community Stack Overflow on insights into the industry. 

The other great example I have of this is Card’s Against Humanity who in their typically irreverent style, produce The Pulse of the Nation which invites Americans to have their say on the personal and the political. Cards Against Humanity then create fun segments and build interactive charts based on the responses. 

It’s a really fun read and is insanely shareable. 

The only downside of this is that building an interactive website still requires some web design skills. 

On the other hand, nice tools like Webflow allow you to build good looking websites from scratch without knowing a single thing about code. 

So that’s it. Those are our top tips for generating a big buzz around your survey results. Don’t just do the boring thing and share the results as a blog. People are visual and they like to digest information in ways that really speak to them and their attention spans! 

Meet people where they are and they’ll be more than happy to share interesting content with their networks. 

Who knows? Those survey results might prove to be a new marketing channel for you.

Create your own survey at doopoll.co