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My Most Successful Marketing Survey

by John McAdam

> 90%Response Rate for a Market Research Survey?

Marketing surveys can be very frustrating in terms of response rates. My survey results typically fall into the 1.5% – 3.5% response rate range. My most recent marketing survey caught me off guard in a positive way in terms of response rate. Here’s what I learned.

Currently, most of my entrepreneurial activities focus on my upcoming book, The One Hour Business Plan™. My publisher (John Wiley & Sons) asked me to choose a cover from three alternatives generated by their creative department. This is an important decision. In an attempt to make the best decision possible, I decided to ask my prospective customers to choose their favorite book cover via a one question survey. Below find the email survey that I subsequently sent:

To                    Blind CC email addresses

Subject           Which Book Cover Is Your Favorite?

From: John McAdam

Subject: Which Book Cover Is Your Favorite?

Imagine that you are in Barnes & Noble this Fall and you see these three books on the shelf. Which are you more likely to pick up first 1, 2 or 3? Just hit reply with your number selection (first reaction)…

Your support has been much appreciated by me, John McAdam

1 White Background with Red Ribbon

2 Blue Background with Time Circle

3 Gold Backgrounds with Hour Glass

The results were surprising. I emailed approximately 127 people and received approximately 115 responses! Why?

  • Survey candidates selected had either benefited from the work in beta, were business friends, loved ones or business people that owe me favors. Admittedly, I eliminated the random selection requirement of empirical marketing research, but so what! I needed feedback quickly for the publishing decision.
  • There was no electronic jump or link to the survey; the respondent could see it in their email previewer and respond very quickly.
  • While technically an open ended question, the survey functioned like a closed ended question requiring two (2) keystrokes for completion.
  • The selected audience for the survey was to varying degrees either passionate about the work or the decision. Some respondents emailed their business friends for feedback resulting in the > 90% response rate.
  • The question and decision were exciting for the recipient.

In addition to learning some fascinating demographic decision making trends, the Blue cover won with White coming in close second. Therefore I decided to combine the best of both covers.

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