You spent your valuable time writing, designing, and implementing your survey, but now it's on to what can be the most difficult part: getting responses. Survey success relies on determining the right audience for your survey, reaching them, and collecting their responses.
In short, you need to find out who your fantastic audience is... and where to find them.
Start at the Sorting Hat: Define Your Target Audience
While it's tempting to say that you want everyone to participate in your survey, for the best results, most of the time you want to narrow down your audience into a key target group. This target group is unified by shared characteristics and will result in more accurate data.
In the popular Harry Potter series, the Sorting Hat tells new students which Hogwarts House they belong to: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, or Ravenclaw.
When determining your target audience, you get to be the Sorting Hat, picking and choosing which respondents belong in your survey's "House."
For example, if your survey is measuring technology use among Baby Boomers in Texas, you're looking for responses from a particular age group who live in a specific location. How you reach this audience will be different from how you would reach a survey audience of, say, inner-city high school teachers.
Care of Magical Creatures: Getting to Know Your Target Audience
Once you have identified your target audience, you need to determine the best way to reach them.
In the pre-internet days, there were several basic ways to administer surveys. These included in person surveys, speaking over the phone, or direct mailing paper surveys.
There are still valid scenarios in which these survey distribution methods will work – and work well – but these days, it's easier to reach your audience online.
This infographic will give you an idea of where to start.
Sent by Owl: Survey Tips for When You Already Have Your Audience's Email
When you already have your audience's email address, a lot of the hard work of contacting respondents is done.
Step one is to determine which people within your email list you want to contact. Perhaps you're running a product feedback survey. The only people you want to email, of course, are those who have purchased the product in question.
Direct email is a great way to reach respondents, but don't expect one email to cut it. Send a reminder email a few days later to jog their memories and increase the chances that they will remember to respond.
Grab Your Broomsticks: Finding Survey Respondents on Social Media
Tapping into your social networks is a great way to reach audiences you know, as well as those you might not know yet.
You have a few choices. The main networks we'll talk about are Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, but there are many, many more. New and niche networks appear every week.
Which network you focus on will depend on who you're looking for. Which tactics you use will depend on whether the audience is new or primarily made up of your existing followers.
When Your Target Audience Already Follows Your Social Media Accounts: A "Sirius" Matter
Reaching your existing audience on one of these mediums is as easy as posting your survey on your page.
Don't stop at one. Algorithms limit how which posts your audience actually sees, so post regularly. (Be careful not to be spammy or take over your feeds with just the survey link. That's a quick way to annoy your social followers.)
On each of the three major social networks we're discussing here, you can also pay to promote your survey to your own audience. This way, you ensure that your followers see the link – making them more likely to click through and complete the survey. This is often very cost-effective. Even just $10 can greatly increase the number of followers that see and click through to your survey.
Take a Trip to the Wizarding Bank: Reaching New Audiences on Social
Looking to reach a new audience? Social media advertising may be the way to go.
Each of the three major social networks offer their own version of paid ad targeting. You will be able to fine tune who will be served your promoted posts based on factors like:
- Job title
The best part? In most cases, you can be as specific as you want. Looking for Harry Potter fans who work in Human Resources for the Environmental industry who live in Boston or Seattle? You can reach that audience through social media.
Go Where the Wizards Are: Choosing the Right Social Media Channels
To decide exactly which social media channel to use for your survey project, think about your target audience.
If you are surveying business professionals about a business topic, LinkedIn will usually give you the best return on your ad dollars.
Think Facebook is only for kids? Think again. Facebook is such a popular, ubiquitous channel, that you're likely to find your target audience there. In fact, over 40% of Facebook users are over the age of 40 (Statista).
Twitter, on the other hand, does skew younger.
Discovering New Magical Creatures: How to Find Respondents You Don't Already Know
Sometimes, you want to survey people outside of your existing networks and audiences. These audiences can often be incredibly specific, and reaching the exact people you need through other methods (like social media) may be extremely difficult.
This is where panel companies come in.
Panel companies recruit survey respondents who have agreed to take part in surveys. These companies match online respondents with your target audience and help you reach this audience.
Lumos! Shedding Light on General Audience Sentiments
For some survey project, you don't need to get responses from a specific audience. You just need responses from a general audience, and you need those responses quickly and cheaply.
SurveyGizmo's Quick Audience is the answer. Collecting responses with a panel can take weeks. But when you gather data using Quick Audience, you'll get nearly instant access to tens of thousands of potential respondents. Fast.
There's No Magic Spell for Reaching Your Audience
...But these tools and tactics can make it easier to define and find the right people for your survey. Start here – and use our infographic – to put you on the right track. No Marauder's Map required.