It’s not just Survey Monkey, it’s all of those web-based survey tools. They make it so easy to gather misinformation.
There’s an old saying that goes like this –
There are four types of knowledge:
- what we know
- what we don’t know
- what we know we don’t know
- what we think we know, but which is actually false
Of these, the fourth is the most dangerous.
An easily created and implemented survey looks like a great tool to find out the answers to critical business questions. Put up a survey tool and let your customers and prospects guide your strategy. Anyone can do it. However, the results often fall into the fourth category of knowledge. Here’s why.
The Problem with Self-selection or Opt In
Putting a survey tool on your website allows your customers to opt in. This means that you simply will not get data from people who you haven’t already connected with. It also means that you will get a larger share of responses from people who feel very strongly about the topic of the survey. These kinds of surveys tend to reinforce what you already believe and provide you no new information on the wants and needs of potential new customers.
The Danger of too Small a Sample Size
Isn’t it annoying when the parent of a first child, who happens to be quiet and well-behaved, proclaims that they know everything about parenting and that is why their child behaves so well? Isn’t it a little bit gratifying when their second child turns out to be a terror? Maybe the sample size of one child out of all the children in the whole wide world is too small of a sample size to tell anyone anything effective about raising children.
If your potential pool is all of the consumers of X product or service in all of X geographical region, maybe keeping your questions to a small pool of people who already are connected to your website or Facebook page is not the right approach. It can give you not just poor information, but information that is actually wrong.
Survey Monkey has its uses. It can be used as a tool to further engage your current customer base. But, if you are looking for a research tool to find out ways to increase sales, improve your margins or gain market share Survey Monkey ain’t it.