Episode 48 | How To Run A Survey

Show Notes


Mike Taber:  [0:00] This is Startups For The Rest Of Us Episode 48. [music]

Mike:  [0:12] Welcome to Startups For The Rest Of Us, the podcast that helps developers be awesome at launching software products whether you’ve built your first product or just thinking about it. I’m Mike.

Rob Walling:  [0:21] And I’m Rob.

Mike:  [0:22] And we’re here to share experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s going on this week, Rob?

Rob:  [0:28] Well, I published a blog post yesterday. You know how sometimes you spend six or eight hours and you craft a brilliant post and you put all this time into it and research? And you go find the right images and do all the stuff for maybe 10 hours. Then it never goes anywhere and no one reads it. You get like 10 unique visits. [0:46] Then other times you spend about 12 minutes copying and pasting something from an email, from a question that someone asks you and you already answered. Basically, you can see where I’m going with this.

[0:54] I had this tiny little post that I asked the dude who asked me. I was like, “Hey! Do you mind if I repost this on my blog? I just think it’s an interesting topic.” And literally less than 15 minutes. I just copied and pasted it into my blog thinking nothing would come of it. I published it on a Monday morning, which I rarely do because I find things just get more traffic the other days of the week.

[1:12] Sure enough I wake up Monday and it’s like number three on Hacker News, and it’s got more than 100 upvotes. I was just completely shocked, yeah.

[1:20] I actually noticed because I got, well, a bunch of emails and comments, and then several copies of my book had sold. I was like, “Someone’s sending me traffic. Where is this coming from, you know?”

[1:31] So anyways, the post is called “You Can’t Make Money Charging a Dollar Per Month,” and there’s a really good discussion on Hacker News actually. Patio 11, Patrick McKenzie, has the highest voted comment. But it was a civil discussion, which you typically see it unravel…

Mike:  [1:45] Wow!

Rob:  [1:46] I know! You typically see it unravel like three comments down, but you read through it and it’s like there’s people agreeing and not agreeing. But it’s really a lot of insight from people’s experience. So anyways, I recommend people check that out if they haven’t already.

Mike:  [1:58] That’s really cool. Yeah, I read the post. I think I saw it on Twitter first. Yeah, it was definitely interesting and it’s short.

Rob:  [2:06] It’s very short, yeah. Well, that’s the thing. I didn’t plan. Again, if I knew a bunch of people were going to read it ‑ I don’t know how many ‑ I’d probably get 10 or 12,000 uniques in 30 hours. If I knew that, I would have written more about it, but this was basically just a response I had given him. I edited it a little bit before I posted it but nothing beyond that. So yeah, it was a surprise I’ll admit.

Mike:  [2:27] It’s hard to predict how those things are going to go.

Rob:  [2:29] I know. Then there’s all the ones, like I said, you spend 10 hours crafting. You craft a brilliant title, and then it doesn’t go anywhere.

Mike:  [2:38] Yeah, I probably have more of those than the other direction.

Rob:  [2:40] Yeah.

Mike:  [2:41] Well, I went out and bought a new build machine since I’ve got a lot of work to do left on AuditShark.

Rob:  [2:48] Don’t you already have like 12 computers in your basement?

Mike:  [2:50] I do, but I don’t really have anything that’s like a low‑powered machine. What I was really looking for was something that I can leave on at all times. I really don’t feel bad about leaving it on at all times because I want to make it into a full‑blown build machine that is going to recompile my code and check source control and do all these other things. And possibly use it as a media server and some other stuff. [3:14] But all the computers that I have tend to be much more high‑powered machines like Dual or Quad Core or Dual socket or Quad machines. I couldn’t justify leaving those on. I have a server downstairs in my lab that I would love to leave on at all times, but the thing has got I think two 600‑watt power supplies in it. I mean it’s just a beast. So…

Rob:  [3:36] Did you buy a physical machine for the build machine? Why not do a VPS somewhere for 40 bucks, like HostMySite.com or somewhere else? Like 40 bucks a month, get the VPS. You get the Windows desktop. What’s the advantage of having the physical hardware?

Mike:  [3:54] I guess it’s just more comfortability with it, knowing that it’s sitting right there. I’ve lost Internet access before while I’m still working, and it’s a pain in the ass. The advantage of the physical machine, not a whole heck of a lot to be honest. I didn’t really think too much about it other than the fact that I didn’t really want to be paying that $40 a month for who‑knows‑how‑long. I suppose I could have probably put it out on the existing VPS that I already have for my Windows server. [4:16] Actually, I did think a little bit about why I would get a physical machine, and one of them was for a backup and recovery because I know how long it takes to set up a build machine and to put all the scripts in place and install all the software. I wanted to have a solid recovery strategy that I wasn’t relying on somebody else for.

Rob:  [4:35] Got it.

Mike:  [4:37] Things can go wrong. It was probably several years ago, but Jeff Atwood’s blog went down, and he thought he had backups of it from the provider. They just didn’t have them. They weren’t working.

Rob:  [4:47] Actually, yeah, he was making backups himself, but he was storing them on the same machine. So when the hard drive fell, he lost his backups. The provider hadn’t promised anything, but their backups didn’t work either, I think is the story. Or maybe they had promised and they failed, too. Yeah, of course, because stuff can happen. [5:06] I guess you and I had that SaaS discussion 10 episodes back, and I don’t want hardware. I don’t want boxes, so that’s why I was asking. I totally would have gone for a VPS myself and then paid them for the backup. But you’re right. By the time you get a VPS and then pay them to back the thing up, it’s going to be ‑ I don’t even know ‑ 50 bucks a month or 60 bucks a month or even more for a higher performance.

Mike:  [5:27] Well, I don’t think it’s that so much… You can get backups of that stuff. For me it’s more the fact that if a hard drive dies on it or something goes wrong, I want to know that I’ve got a full‑blown image of the entire thing and I don’t have to worry about it. That’s really it. If I want to have this machine rebuilt within an hour or two, I can do it. Whereas if it’s on a VPS, sure, my data is backed up but none of my configuration is.

Rob:  [5:55] Really?

Mike:  [5:56] Well, yeah.

Rob:  [5:57] They just back up the whole VPS? I guess it would depend. I imagine some providers would back up the whole VPS image, right? It’s just a physical file on a disk somewhere.

Mike:  [6:07] Right.

Rob:  [6:08] Some would do that.

Mike:  [6:10] Some. A lot of them will put it on a back end SAN, so they have it in RAID six or maybe RAID 10 or something like that. Who knows what they’ve got on the back end? But when you’ve got those high‑end SANS, they are redundant but they don’t necessarily back up everything on the SAN. So that’s where you might run into issues where you can’t get a fully restorable copy of the whole thing all at once.

Rob:  [6:36] Right, and you’re saying you need it back in one to two hours, huh?

Mike:  [6:39] I don’t want us to have to spend more than an hour or two on it to recover it. That’s really what it comes down to. I don’t care if the process itself takes eight hours as long as I don’t have to spend more than an hour or two on it because you know as well as I do, you rebuild your machine, you may as well just blow two full days at that point.

Rob:  [6:59] Right.

Mike:  [7:00] So that was more the emphasis on getting the physical hardware and being able to just govern everything myself.

Rob:  [7:05] That’s interesting because see, I would say the physical hardware is like an ongoing maintenance headache for me because then you have to keep it here. Well, you’ve just got to keep all the patches up to date. I guess I have a desktop here, and I think of it more as a burden than a boon. I wish it was virtual out somewhere and someone else was taking care of it. But you have a lab in the basement, so maybe it just fits in with that.

Mike:  [7:25] Right. I just don’t trust somebody else enough to do it. That’s really what it comes down to because I don’t want to put my eggs in somebody else’s basket. Even though I’m paying them to manage it, ultimately they’re not the ones who suffer if things go wrong. If I pay somebody for, let’s say, two or three years and then suddenly I need to restore it, if I’m paying them $10 a month over the course of a year or two, that’s $1,000, let’s say. [7:50] The problem that I see is that that $1,000 that I’ve paid goes completely out the window if something goes wrong. Then I have to recover and it fails.

Rob:  [7:58] Right.

Mike:  [7:59] Yeah, it comes back to testing your backups and restore and everything else, but it worries me a little bit.

Rob:  [8:06] I was going to mention that you and I both did write‑ups of MicroConf for anyone who didn’t get enough about it from our previous podcast. But SingleFounder.com is your blog, and you have a good write‑up there. Then SoftwareByRob.com is mine. So if you haven’t checked them out, check them out. [8:25] On MicroConf.com I put up a little sign‑up form. If we do MicroConf 2012, this is the early notification list. I don’t see conferences do this. I go to a bunch of conference websites. I go to the conference website, and it’s just happened a month ago. I think, “Oh, man! I totally want to go to this next year or at least hear about it,” and they never have a form. I think there’s one out of 20 sites that I’ve been to that say, “Notify me about next year.”

[8:49] It just seems like you have an entire year where you’re going to get some traffic every month. It’s like why not take advantage of some of that? Because what I wind up doing is putting a reminder in my calendar for like six months from now to check back to that website, and that’s just stupid.

[9:06] Anyways, I put that up. There’s no final answer on whether or not we’re going to do MicroConf 2012. But if people want to be on the early notification list, MicroConf.com and sign up there.

Mike:  [9:13] Very cool.

Rob:  [9:15] Yeah.

Mike:  [9:16] One of the things I did was over the last couple weeks I’ve been going through some of the comments on the podcast website. I haven’t been getting the email notifications when people comment, which is terribly irritating, but I did go back and start reading through some of the comments. There’s a lot of comments on there from people saying that we should keep the transcripts.

Rob:  [9:35] Yeah. Well, I think I brought it up, the possibility of not doing them, because they’re not cheap. So I just brought up the thought of not having them around and people posted. Well, there were probably three or four people, right? That said to keep them?

Mike:  [9:47] Five or six actually.

Rob:  [9:48] So we should get sponsors or something to pay for those? [laughter]

Rob:  [9:52] I mean really, it’s you and I writing. It’s kind of out of our pocket.

Mike:  [9:55] Yeah, I’m always a little leery of going the sponsorship route for podcasts, but…

Rob:  [9:59] If we got a good match, I think it could work. But yeah. It just seems like a lot of work for ‑ I don’t even know how much money we could get ‑ a few hundred bucks to pay for transcripts?

Mike:  [10:12] Yeah.

Rob:  [10:12] It might not be worth our time to do it, you know?

Mike:  [10:14] Probably not.

Rob:  [10:15] I listened to the book “In The Plex.” It’s by Steven Levy, and he was hanging out with Google for 10 years or something. He basically is a reporter, and they give him unprecedented access inside Google. We talked about this a little bit last podcast, but I finished the book and it’s very good. I recommend it to people. [10:37] I realized something, and I wanted to ask you about this, because I realized that I love the early stages of startup stories and of band stories. Like watching either a documentary or even a movie like “That Thing You Do!” about the band getting started. I love from the beginning until about the middle because it’s the startup, and it’s like they’re cranking. They’re becoming famous and that they’re creating. They’re in a garage writing a song, and that part’s really cool.

[10:59] Then as soon as it gets to where they are now famous, or where the company is now 1,000 employees and they’re going to have an IPO, I get totally bored.

[11:07] I felt like that with this book. I was just like, “Oh, groan.” I don’t really care that much about the Google China stuff. I know it’s important, but I wasn’t nearly as interested in that as hearing tales of the early days. I want to find out, is that me, or what do you think? Do you feel the same way about stuff?

Mike:  [11:24] I think that’s you.

Rob:  [11:25] OK. No, and that’s good to know.

Mike:  [11:27] It depends on the subject matter and the topic. If you start going back to things like the browser wars in the late ’90s, and Microsoft competing against Google, I find those types of things interesting. [11:39] If you look at those companies, they’re not small companies by any stretch of the imagination, so they’re relatively mature companies that I still find some of those stories interesting. It also has to be stuff that isn’t necessarily widely known. If it’s stuff that is very public and has been very public, I just don’t care.

Rob:  [11:57] So, I’ll agree with that. I actually listened to several of the “This Week in Tech” podcasts, the LeoReport network. So, I do pay attention to stuff that’s happening now, and I’m interested in it. And Microsoft and Google and Facebook, and all of that. Amazon, the cloud music, and everything. [12:15] That is intriguing to me as it’s going on. But when I’m hearing a narrative that’s going back 10 or 15 years, I tend to really enjoy the early days, and then when it gets to where they’re big, it becomes boring. And that’s actually Paul Allen’s biography did that for me as well, Microsoft. It was just really intriguing until they became bigger. And then I was like. “Eh, not so interested.”

[12:38] I think that, maybe, is why I want to stay small. It’s why I don’t want to start this big company and go to IPO, because I just think I’d not have a lot of fun. I wouldn’t enjoy it. Actually, that was my experience at my last full time job. I was the fourth developer hired, I think, and it was a lot of fun. Then by the time we were at 25 developers, I was like, “I’m out of here, man. There’s no room for me here, you know.”

Mike:  [13:02] That’s odd. I don’t think that I would see it that way. I think that as the company gets bigger, it gets exciting. I can agree with you that after a certain point, there’s probably a lot of monotony. Maybe for you, you just happen to see that at 25 people at that particular company.

Rob:  [13:20] Yeah. Well, it was 25 developers. I mean, we were like [inaudible 0:13:20] employees. Yeah.

Mike:  [13:22] Oh, I see, I see…

Rob:  [13:23] Yeah. It wasn’t a software company, so we were only a part of it. I’m curious to hear listener’s thoughts.

Mike:  [13:30] About the only other thing I’ve doing is more work on AutoShark. I see you’ve committed to, on Twitter, to harassing me a little bit about it.

Rob:  [13:37] I have. Yeah. So you’ve now committed to late July ‑ is that right? ‑ for an alpha.

Mike:  [13:41] Yes.

Rob:  [13:41] All right.

Mike:  [13:43] Well, I’ve got some long weekends coming up. I’ve got a, quote, unquote, five day weekend next week, and then another four day weekend after that. I’m hoping that those nine days will do a lot of good for the product. [13:56] I’ve been slowly hammering out things. Basically, on a daily basis I work on it at this point. I’ve been definitely moving forward. Not necessarily at the rate I would like, but definitely moving forward.’

Rob:  [14:07] Good.

Mike:  [14:09] The last thing. I sent out a survey to the MicroConf attendees through SurveyMonkey, and it was a pretty incredible response. I got a response rate of more than 50 percent. One of the things that I found surprising was… We asked about all the speakers, where the location was, and what people thought of this and that. Sixty five to 70 percent of people who said that you were a weak speaker. I believe the exact phrasing was, “Who would win in an arm wrestling match, Mike or Rob?”

Rob:  [14:39] I am the speaker who happens to be weaker than you. Is that really what… What are you people thinking? Sixty seven percent? There is no chance.

Mike:  [14:47] I don’t know. [music]

Mike:  [14:50] We’re going to focus on one of the themes of MicroConf. There’s a lot of different ways to gauge a market and what your customers want. You can do all kinds of things on your website to measure metrics and figure out what people click on and what people don’t, and do A/B split testing. Figure out what it is that they’re looking for. [15:11] Why go through all that trouble? Why not just ask them? It’s fast, it’s reliable, and more importantly, it’s straight from the people whose opinions you actually care about. So what we’re going to do today is we’re going to talk about how to run a survey. There are two primary classifications of surveys that we’re going to talk a little bit about. They fall into the categories of web form surveys and email surveys.

[15:31] Most email surveys that you send out, people are going to click on a link and go to a web form. That’s not really what I mean by web form surveys. What I really mean there is drive‑by visitors to your website ‑ people who are not signed up to a mailing list, people you don’t necessarily have a relationship already established with.

Rob:  [15:49] Right. So, it’s like visitors. A lot of people must have seen this, especially on the startup websites where you come there and there’s this little thing there, lurking in the corner. You can either click on it, or it pops up after a certain point. It says, “What do you think about this pricing page?” Or something like that. So, when you’re saying web form survey, that’s what you mean. [16:07] Whereas email survey means you have a list of people, whether they’re prospects or customers. You have some sort of relationship with them, so the manner of survey you’re going to give them is a little different.

Mike:  [16:17] Exactly. First Rob, why don’t you tell the listeners a little bit about what the purpose of a survey is? What can it do for them, and why would they bother with a survey?

Rob:  [16:26] These are the bottom line questions, right? It’s like, why we are we even talking about this? The idea behind a survey, why you should bother with it, is a little bit like Mike said earlier, it can get you the information that you can’t get from other tools. [16:45] When you look at split testing, you’re getting the behavior of someone, but you’re not getting why they’re doing something. So, the idea behind a survey is it allows you to get a more detailed view of a broad audience. Now, if you go more detailed than a survey, it’s things like individual emails and calling someone up on the phone, like a customer up on the phone. Those are valuable as well.

[17:04] A survey’s like the in‑between, as I see it. A/Bs and split testing is like… You can test it with tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of visitors and get this interesting metrics. In a survey, you could do it with hundreds of thousands, but most of us are probably not going to have lists that big, so it’s going to be, probably, a smaller audience and you’re going to get a lot more specific information.

[17:23] Then, as I said, specifically emailing and talking to them individually, you can only do that for maybe dozens. I guess that’s the bottom line. The reason you bother is to get more information either your product, a direction you may want to take your product, or about feedback on a conference like we’ve just done. Surveys serve a very specific role in obtaining that.

Mike:  [17:41] The other thing you might use a survey for is when you’re not real sure what the future road map looks like of a product, or if you’re not sure whether the direction that you’re currently going in is the direction you should be going in. You need maybe a little bit of validation before you progress down the road of developing something and adding more features for three, four, five hundred hours or something like that. Only to find that those features that you implemented weren’t compelling to the people that you’re trying to sell them to.

Rob:  [18:12] Yeah. A good example of this is about, maybe it was 18 months ago, we surveyed the DotNetInvoice prospect list. What we asked them is, “You haven’t purchased DotNetInvoice. You’ve been on the list for more than x weeks.” I think we segmented it mailed it to people who were on more than two months. We said, “You’ve been on it for a while. You haven’t bought. Wondering why.” [18:33] We gave them multiple choice. It was a single question survey. There were several different options, people could fill their own in, but the one we got the most was price. People said they were interested, but DotNetInvoice is $300, and a lot of people didn’t want to move afford. So what we did, we didn’t lower the price, but what we did is we created a compiled version of it that does not include source code, and we sell that now for $99. It’s done pretty well.

[18:55] We had a thought that that might be an issue, but we could never get that. We could split test our pricing page all we wanted, but we could never get that information from anything but a survey.

Mike:  [19:06] That’s interesting that you only went with a single question for that particular survey. Did you provide a comments field? I think you said it was multiple choice, right?

Rob:  [19:14] We did. It was multiple choice radio buttons, and then one of them said “other,” basically. They could type in stuff they wanted if they had a different reason.

Mike:  [19:22] Interesting.

Rob:  [19:24] We wanted it to be really easy and really specific. I was going to embed it in the email, but then I remembered that was not a good idea. We did tell them it was one question and we wanted to keep it that way. We got a super high response rate for that one.

Mike:  [19:36] Very cool. One of the other things you need to consider is when to use an email survey. So, if you’ve got a mailing list and you want to send people a survey, when’s the best time to ask them to fill out a survey? [19:50] Well, it sort of depends on what sort of relationship you already have with those people. If they’ve been on your mailing list for a while, and you’re continually sending them something, it probably doesn’t necessarily matter when you send them something.

[20:02] However, if you’ve got a mailing list that you’ve set up to collect email addresses and they’re just starting to get into your funnel, the best time to send them a survey is probably within the first couple of days of when somebody signs up for that mailing list.

[20:20] The reason for that is you don’t want to wait too long before your first contact with them, in order to have them look at that and say, “Well, where is this email coming from?” Two, three months down the road, it’s a little bit too late. You really don’t have their attention anymore, and their mind is off doing other things. There’s so much time has passed, they’re just not going to be interested at that point.

[20:42] So, you really need to send them an email very, very quickly and keep it short. Don’t do more than two or three, four, possibly five questions. I think five questions is probably a bit much. But just kind of get a sense of who they are, maybe what bucket they should be put into. What sort of email campaign they should be sent to, assuming that you’ve gotten sophisticated enough with your email newsletters, or what have you, to send them down a different path.

[21:05] The other thing to do is be very, very specific when you ask these questions. Don’t ask them what they think of something. One of the things that you can ask them is, what are the top two features that they are interested in, or that they need for this particular product, or whatever it is that you happen to be selling.

[21:23] Whether it’s a service, or a SaaS application, desktop application, it doesn’t really matter, just ask the top two features that they need, which will basically tell you why they’re there. If that person does not end up buying from you, and you don’t have that feature implemented, it’s pretty clear exactly why they didn’t.

[21:39] There’s a website you can go to that is called survey.io. This is great for finding a core customer base of yours, and identify what they’re really interested in. You basically go there, you plug in your product’s name and it generates a short survey for you. It is a little bit longer than five questions. I think it’s eight or nine. But it still fits all on one page and it’s very easy for them to see at a glance how much further that they have to go because it’s not spread across different pages.

Rob:  [22:06] Yeah, I think the power behind that, the survey.io, survey is that it’s, it was written by Sean Ellis, in partnership with, uh, with Heaton Shaw, and basically it’s like a customer development survey, so, the idea is that you are asking existing customers, people who have already purchased your product, and you’re asking them a series of questions, and the questions are filled out in survey.io, so you don’t have to write them. [22:27] And it basically asks things like, “How disappointed would you be if you couldn’t use X product again.” And what you’re trying to do, is find, as Mike said, find this core customer base who really, really need your product, so that you can do two things.

[22:43] One, you can then ask for their feedback on what features they want, how you should market it, you know, that kind of stuff, and you can really cater to them; and two, you can learn more about those customers, and market to others like them, because that is going to be your product market fit.

[22:57] That’s the idea, so it’s kind of a link start‑up customer development thing. And, uh, it’s pretty cool. We actually have plans to use it with DotNet invoice, we just got a new version out, and we’re now scrambling to figure out, you know, what to do next. We’re definitely going to be implementing that in the next month, I’d say. And I’ll let you guys know how it goes.

Mike:  [23:15] And there’s two other things other to point out about that. One is that it’s free. It doesn’t cost anything to sign up for survey.io. And the second thing about it is that it’s really geared towards your existing customer base, it’s not really meant for the people who just drive by on your website, and you don’t want to send those types of people to it. [23:27] You really want to target the people who have already purchased your product, and have a, at least hopefully, a vested interest in what’s, what it is that you’re offering or in the future.

Rob:  [23:35] Right, and for the drive‑by website visitors, the tool to use is KISSinsights, and it’s KISSinsights.com. And that’s a Hiten Shah product, and basically that is that little JavaScript pop‑up survey that we’ve seen, where, you know. [23:52] You’re on a pricing page in the lower‑right there’s a little button or something, and when you click it, it expands up and asks you typically one question. It’s more like a poll than a survey, and it’ll, it could ask you something like how did you find out about us. Or, what do you think of this pricing page, are you confused, why did you not buy, you know, whatever.

[24:06] And the cool thing about KISSinsights, and, now this one does charge, but the cool thing is that they have a bunch of pre‑made questions for you. So Hiten’s kind of made it easy for you to, to get started with it and not really have to think about what you want to ask them, because you can just kind of plug some website code in and then. Use one of his preformatted surveys and it. You get some decent insight from drive‑by web visitors, which is always a benefit to you.

Mike:  [24:29] So one of the things you want to think about is, how can you encourage a high response rate? And the reason you want a really high response rate is, because you want to be able to get as close as you can to the average sentiment of what people feel about the questions that you’re asking. So if you said, what do you think of this product, and how would you feel if it went away? [24:49] Well, if everyone says, “Well, I don’t really care if the product goes away; it would be no big deal,” then that’s something that you’re going to want to know. But if you only get a couple responses, then that can skew the response in the other direction, just by the nature of the statistics behind that. So you really want to get as high a response rate as you can get.

[25:09] And how do you do that? Well, the first thing you can do is you can thank people in advance. One of the things that I did at MicroConf, was, before I left, we were, uh. Just hanging out in one of the rooms, and I walked around to every single person and thanked them for coming to MicroConf and said, “I’m sending out a survey in a couple weeks, please, please, please, let me know in the comments, what you guys think of the conference and please fill it out.”

[25:30] And I just thanked every single person in advance ‑ and this is probably a little bit more of an extreme example, but they knew that I was serious. They knew that I was going to appreciate all the responses that came back.

Rob:  [25:41] Another way to encourage a high response rate is to know your audience. And Mike and I were talking before the podcast and I had told him that, with some surveys we’ve sent out with DotNet invoice. Sometimes we’ll offer something for free, like a, either a free plug‑in, or a free aspect of DotNet invoice, or a free report or something, but one of the ways we’ve found to get a really high response rate, is that when emailing customers. [26:02] We don’t offer anything for free, but we just tell them that they are basically going to shape the future of the product, like they can offer their input and it can help shape the future. And since they are invested, because they’ve paid money and they now use this product, you know, every month for their invoicing, it has a high response rate when we do that.

[26:24] So it’s almost like just knowing that they are motivated and entrusted to give feedback means that we don’t have to do some kind of silly “Win an I‑Pad 2” giveaway, which, uh, again. Mike and I were talking before, and he’s like, “Yeah, I always ignore those, because my time is worth more than the slight chance of winning an iPad 2.”

[26:36] And so I can see both sides of that, right? Like if your audience is software developers, they tend to make good money, and they tend to hopefully value their time. So the thought of giving an iPad two away is that… it might work, but my guess is it’s not going to, just because if they want an iPad 2, if we want an iPad 2, we go out and buy it, right?

[26:56] Whereas if you’re surveying 19‑year‑olds in college or something, I think the chance you’ll win an iPad 2, they would probably fill out a pretty long survey because they don’t value their time nearly as much, and most of them probably do not have them. It always helps to give something away, but really knowing what’s going to motivate them, my guess would be.

[27:11] With software developers, a really cool, like a PDF like a short e‑book, on some super‑interesting information that they would want would actually be more valuable than the chance to win an iPad.

Mike:  [27:22] And along those lines, you’d also want to think what’s in it for them. Why should they even bother filling out this survey. I think next we want to talk about the tools that you would use for this, and we already mentioned survey.io. Another one that you can use is SurveyMonkey. [27:36] And that’s surveymonkey.com. That’s actually what I used for the MicroConf survey. And it worked pretty well. I went to survey.io. And it didn’t, obviously, didn’t give me the ability to change the questions, which, it’s not meant for that sort of thing.

[27:49] But, SurveyMonkey allowed me to put in all these different things, I can’t even begin to describe the number of different options I had. But I just signed up for a 1‑month membership for, you know, it is a SaaS‑app, so there is a monthly fee behind it, maybe 22 or 23 dollars or something like that for a month, and I could send out a bunch of surveys, and…

[28:08] Like I said, the response rate I got was over 50 percent, and it was a long survey, it was ‑ what was it? ‑ 38 questions, something like that?

Rob:  [28:16] Yeah, there were a lot of questions. You totally broke that, uh, 2‑to‑5 question max rule.

Mike:  [28:20] I totally did. I knew that I could, and I knew that I’d be able to get away with it, because I went around to every single person and said, “Please fill this out” and I thanked them in advance, and said, “We really need this, need you guys to fill these out and help us out for next year.”

Rob:  [28:35] Right, and I think it’s a part of knowing your audience, too, you knew that people would be willing to fill out a longer survey. And you also knew that you gave them a chance to shape next year, from the feedback. I think a lot of people felt that was, that was valuable. [28:46] So the other tool that I’ve used, which is basically a competitor to SurveyMonkey, is SurveyGizmo. And, you know, there’s really minimal difference between these two products. SurveyMonkey is bigger. I think it’s a little more expensive, SurveyGizmo has, I think, a longer free plan, or you can do more responses in it.

[29:05] And so I’ve used it quite a bit, but it’s really, it’s neither here nor there, and they’re both going to give you basically the same functionality. I think, you know, kind of the pricing and the plans are the only differences.

[29:13] And then, the last tool which we already mentioned is KISSinsights, that’s for doing those webform surveys for drive by visitors, when you just want to figure out a, do a quick poll and get a little more information on what’s going on your website.


Rob:  [29:27] And then that actually about wraps us up for today, for talk on surveys. Do we have any listener questions this week, Mike?

Mike:  [29:34] Yes, we do. This one is from Ricky Craig. And he says, “I have a couple of questions. The first is related to SEO. This is something I only know a little about, mostly from listening to you guys. Are there any sources on the topic that you would recommend to improve my knowledge?”

Rob:  [29:48] Yeah, I have some thoughts on this. There’s actually the Dummies book, SEO for Dummies is decent. I think it might be…

Mike:  [29:55] Really?

Rob:  [29:56] Yeah! Yeah.

Mike:  [29:56] Are you serious?

Rob:  [29:58] I am, I am, I know. Most people, I tell that to people, and they get, they’re shocked. The hard part with SEO is, reading a book on it can give you an overview, but it changes so quickly. So even now, like, the SEO for, Search Engine Optimization for Dummies is from November of 2010, so that’s almost a year old, you know, it’s starting to age a little bit, but that, for an overview of stuff, if you really want a physical book, or a kindle book for that matter. That’s probably a good place to start. [30:23] And then, to get more current stuff, I mean, you have to be online, right? And SEOmoz.org is a great site for that kind of info, and searchenginewatch.com is another.

[30:35] I have not found a good SEO podcast ‑ no, you know what, I take that back. There is one that stands out, and it’s called Internet Marketing. And if you type that in, it’ll bring up a bunch of different ones, but it’s the one with Andy White and Kelvin Newman. And it’s called, like, Internet Marketing, and then it has something in parentheses. But, Kelvin Newman is SEO genius, so go back and listen to some old episodes of that, and it’ll just kind of get you acquainted with what’s going on.

[31:00] The hard part with SEO is that there’s just so much information that comes out all the time that it’s hard to parse through what’s really valuable or not. I would encourage people to learn your, you know, there’s the on‑page factors, which is how to, how to much with your titles and your tags, and blah, blah, blah, and really.

[31:17] You can learn that, that’s where, like, that book comes in. You get a checklist, you go through your site, you do it once, and you’re done. And that stuff doesn’t tend to change, it takes years for that to change.

[31:25] The hard part about SEO is learning how to build links, and it just, you want incoming links. That’s where the real kind of art and the science and all that stuff comes in.

[31:32] There’s a lot of different sources for it, but I think if you’re getting started, that those four things that I’ve named are probably going to give you ample information.

Mike:  [31:39] Yeah, I think I’ve heard that podcast a couple of times, now I was also going to mention SEOmoz. If you go to SEOmoz.org/blog, there’s a ton of articles on there, and you know some of them are, actually, most of them are related to SEO. [31:54] And you can just kind of browse the summaries of them to figure out which ones are worth reading, and interesting you to specifically address your SEO questions.

Rob:  [32:01] Yeah, because there’s total information overload in terms of SEO. It’s really easy to get caught up in the minutia, and feel like you need to spend a gazillion hours on it. And that’s just, not necessarily the case, you know? Many people just kind of over, over think it a lot of times.

Mike:  [32:17] Yeah? And the other question that Ricky had had was about mailing lists. But, I think we did an entire podcast about that, a couple of weeks ago.

Rob:  [32:29] Was that, was episode 44 or 45 answered his question. [music]

Rob:  [32:31] If you have a question or comment, call it into our voicemail number, (888) 801‑9690, or you can email it to us at questions@startupsfortherestofus.com. If you enjoy the podcast, please consider writing a review on iTunes, we haven’t had a new review in the last week or two, but, uh, we look forward to hearing yours. [32:49] You can just search for startups on the iTunes Store. You could subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, or via RSS at startupsfortherestofus.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from “We’re Outta Control” by Moot. It’s used under Creative Commons.

[33:03] A full transcript of this podcast is available, and will remain available, by popular demand. It’s at our website startupsfortherestofus.com. Thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time…

Transcription by CastingWords

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