The Custard Blog

Words of wisdom from our team of online marketing experts

How Surveys Can Help Your Online Marketing Campaign

Nothing adds authority to your content marketing campaign like hard data. Thanks to Google Forms, it’s easier than ever to carry out online surveys and discover new trends, facts and figures to use in your content.

Surveys let you inform and educate the public about your industry, explain user or customer behaviour, share interesting or unusual facts with the world and set your business apart as a source of authoritative information.

With the right outreach strategy, a great survey can turn your story into something bloggers, journalists and columnists can’t wait to talk about, instead of just another content marketing pitch aimed at generating media coverage.

In this guide, we’ll show you who pays attention to online surveys and explain how your company can use surveys to increase the reach of its blog posts, online videos and other content marketing messages.

Why carry out a survey?

Surveys are inexpensive and easy to carry out. While designing an infographic can take several days and require a team of people – from researchers to designers – a survey can be carried out cheaply, quickly and easily using Google Forms. All that’s required for a successful survey is an interesting idea and an audience of willing participants. From your existing customers to communities like Reddit, it’s surprisingly easy to find people interested in participating in your survey. Arguably the biggest strength of surveys is their media appeal. While infographics and online widgets rarely get journalists’ pulses racing, market research has broad appeal and is always a favourite of writers looking to fill column inches.

A well promoted survey can achieve three goals for your business: create mentions of your brand that improve your search visibility, make your brand more visible to potential customers and build excellent editorial links for SEO.

Who pays attention to online survey data?

You might not pay much attention to surveys, but a lot of reporters do. Earlier this year, data from a survey we conducted was published in MailOnline – the English-speaking world’s most visited newspaper website.

The survey was timely and highly relevant, listing the top social media regrets of social media users. MailOnline published it on January 1st – a day many Facebook users spent deleting embarrassing New Year’s Eve photos – and it quickly spread.

From the Daily Mail’s website, it spread to IT blogs, technology websites and even Carson Daly’s radio show. The survey’s broad appeal made it something that many different audiences – from tech gurus to talk radio listeners – could discuss.

With the right combination of broad appeal, unique insight and smart outreach, a simple survey can earn your company coverage on newspapers, blogs and radio shows that tens of thousands of pounds in traditional marketing couldn’t buy.

How to create a newsworthy survey

Not all surveys are equally newsworthy, and many surveys that seem insightful are unlikely to even be picked up by journalists. The most successful surveys typically have four common elements:

    • They have broad appeal that makes them interesting to mainstream websites and newspapers. Think about what newspaper and blog readers want to hear about, not what industry insiders are interested in reading about.



  • They’re non-promotional. Journalists like publishing interesting information, but not if it’s a covert advertisement for your business. A survey about your business and its services isn’t going to be published – it will be ignored.
  • They’re original. Journalists won’t publish the same article twice, even if the data comes from a new source. While a new angle on an old concept is fine, it’s better to think up a completely new concept.
  • They use a decent sample size. Small surveys are notoriously unreliable due to selection bias. Journalists will pay more attention to your survey when it’s thorough. Go for an audience of at least 1,000 people for optimal accuracy.

Pitching your survey to journalists and bloggers

No matter how good your survey is, it will likely be ignored without a good outreach strategy. Popular journalists receive hundreds of email pitches every day, with most ending up at the bottom of their recycle bin. The key to pitching your survey to journalists is research. Journalists usually delete mass pitch emails (the dreaded BCC email is every journalist’s nightmare) but they pay far more attention to targeted pitches that are directly relevant to them.

Instead of choosing a large audience for your outreach campaign, choose a smaller, closely targeted audience of journalists that have reported on subjects like the one you’ve covered in your survey.

Remember that journalists like pitches, as long as they’re interesting, relevant and worth publishing. Use The Next Web’s pitch guide to get your survey in front of the right people and make them pay attention.

How to use the coverage to help SEO

Not every site that publishes your survey will link back to you. If the goal of your content marketing campaign is to build links, you’ll want to reach out to publishers using link reclamation strategies.

Most journalists have busy schedules, and it’s far more likely they simply forgot to link to your website than deliberately left it out. A simple “thank you” email is often all it takes to turn a media mention into an editorial link to your website.

After your survey has been published and referenced, use Google Alerts or a custom Google search to track down every mention of your brand. Reach out to each writer with a friendly email thanking them for the coverage.

At the end of your email, include a polite request to turn the brand mention into a link. While some newspapers and blogs have editorial guidelines against linking to sources, most will be happy to add a link back to your company’s website.


How can you use surveys to enhance your content marketing?

Infographics and video might be the most talked-about aspects of content marketing right now, but their cost can make them prohibitively expensive and massively time-consuming for most content marketers.

Surveys are cheap, easy to conduct and, with the right angle, far more interesting to journalists than the average infographic. How can your business use surveys to help its content marketing campaigns get mainstream media coverage?

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