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How To: Choosing A Survey Partner

How To Choose A Survey Partner

When the Content Marketing Institute asked B2B buyers what they look for in content from vendors, nearly 50 percent said they want content that is more informational than promotional. (Infographic)

One of the best ways to provide informational content is to conduct research and present original data that offers insights into your industry and those you serve. Customer and consumer surveys are key tools in developing that data, but many marketing teams aren’t equipped to develop, execute, analyze and utilize surveys in-house.

When choosing a survey partner to assist with surveys that are designed to fuel content development, here are five questions, using marketing surveys, you should ask prospective agencies.


1. Show me surveys you've developed for past clients.

Review surveys the prospective agencies have created in the past. Read through the questions as both a respondent and as the person who would be analyzing the resulting data.

  • Are the questions clear and easy to understand? Do they avoid ambiguity or leading language?

  • Are screening and qualification questions used to target specific audiences as needed?

  • Are a variety of question types used to tease out different information, such as comparisons, ratings, and yes/no answers?

  • Are the surveys long enough to provide the needed data, but not needlessly lengthy, which can cause respondents to stop before completing the survey?

  • Are the surveys organized logically, with visual formatting that makes it easy for respondents to follow directions, such as using scales (e.g., 1-5) consistently for all sections and questions.


2. Show me the data findings from past surveys.

Some survey firms may present their findings in a summary format, sending back to their clients only select highlights that reflect the major topics outlined at the beginning of the process. Ask to see how prospective partners report their results.

Ideally, you want to receive the full data sets in a format you can analyze and work with to ensure there are no useful stats or stories left unused.

3. How many survey respondents did you get, and was the data statistically sound?

Ask prospective partners about their typical survey response rates, total responses, sample sizes and confidence level in order to verify that they are generating data that is statistically sound.

Different surveys, and different clients, may have different requirements regarding the acceptable margin of error. More respondents, relative to the size of the overall target populations, will yield more accurate results. (Check out this post from SurveyMonkey for a breakdown of how to calculate the needed sample size and from there, to calculate how many people will need to be invited to take a survey.)

In most cases, you will want to margins of error of no more than +/- 5 percent.


4. Show me how you've used the survey data and findings to tell stories.

In today’s soundbite world, we’ve become accustomed to seeing and hearing random “facts” floating around social media and 24/7 news channels, often with no context or background. But if you are commissioning a survey to be used as the foundation for marketing content, you need to see that any firm you partner with can provide more than “mediagenic nuggets.”

Ask them to show how their survey data supported and fueled stories for their clients to tell.

We have worked with West for years, turning the data from their customer and consumer surveys regarding healthcare in America into hundreds of blog posts, thousands of social media posts, and dozens of downloadable marketing assets and thought leadership placements. The success of past surveys and content campaigns have led the company to continue the strategy in 2018, with the potential to expand it across all product lines and verticals.

Click below to view the highlights of how we’ve helped them turn data into stories.



5. Show me how you've maximized the findings to deliver unique content.

Ask prospective agency partners if they can deliver more than data. A full-service agency that understands surveys AND content marketing will be able to help you craft a strategy that turns that data into press releases, thought leadership articles, videos, infographics and blog posts. A quality survey, written with content development in mind from the beginning, should yield at least 50 different items to fuel your inbound marketing content. A strategy for doing so should be part of what you expect when hiring a firm to help you create, execute and maximize a marketing survey.


By looking at prospective agencies’ past work and case studies of their work, you should know if they can deliver on these two key requirements:

  • Design and execute a statistically sound survey that delivers the necessary findings to fuel at least 50 unique pieces of marketing content.

  • Create a content plan to maximize the survey findings, including headlines and abstracts to support at least 50 pieces of unique content, including press releases, marketing assets, thought leadership articles, videos and more.


Remember that the end result of your market survey should be much more than a few pieces of interesting, or even mediagenic, data. It should fuel the content you need to articulate YOUR story and messaging. And that starts with thinking through the storylines in advance and working backward to develop survey questions.

Bonus points if they can set your marketing team up with the raw ingredients (or even the finished product) for 100 pieces of content. Here’s a look at how to make that happen: Maximize Marketing Surveys. Download our ebook for a guide to turning a single survey into a hundred or more pieces of marketing content, plus a thousand social media updates.

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