Tracking brand reputation on a budget

Running a brand tracking study often means drowning in complex data and spending lots of money, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Survata allows companies to perform simple brand tracking studies, asking a few core questions, that provide meaningful and statistically significant findings. Performing a regular study for as little as $1000 per quarter can give insight to how your reputation is evolving, or clue you in on any aspect of how consumers view your brand.

For example, a business might want to gauge the longer term payoffs of a new PR campaign. By asking questions concerning brand trust or favorability on a regular basis, companies can measure whether their efforts are moving the needle. Obviously, brand reputation can fluctuate with things like current events, emerging competition, or company news. By staying on top of key numbers, brands can take preventative measures before experiencing a full-on PR disaster. A tracking study can also be useful for small companies, as tracking brand awareness can help evaluate company growth in comparison to the competition. Survata makes performing periodic market research easy and affordable, and allows you to track your brand without the hassle of hiring a large consulting firm.

Try your first brand tracking study today!

Airbnb logo redesign: More people see hearts than naughty parts

Airbnb recently launched a massive site redesign, complete with a brand new listings page and company logo. The new logo immediately caused media uproar, as many thought the Bélo depicts something more scandalous than a “symbol of belonging” as explained by Airbnb. Online discussion was less about whether the logo has human anatomical associations, and more about narrowing in on the specific private part the logo depicts. Survata has helped many designers and company executives evaluate their logos (since sometimes your logo may inadvertently look like underwear). So, we were inclined to immediately collect data on the topic, and find out whether the public at large was able to keep their minds out of the gutter.

The day of Airbnb’s redesign unveiling, we displayed their logo to several hundred online respondents and asked a simple question:

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The data indicates that innocence is perhaps not entirely lost. While responses like “boobs,” “vagina,” and “butt” came in relatively high numbers, “paperclip” and “upside-down heart” were by far the more common answers. One takeaway from this study is one we already knew: Internet commentators can shade hypercritical (or at least enjoy perpetuating a joke that might not be as apparent to a neutral party). But another is that performing quick consumer research on a logo can be a timely way to clue you in on logo issues before they are trending on Twitter.

Here’s a visualization of how people answered the above question, and you can download the underlying data here.

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Cures for the common startup naming struggle

This column was originally originally written by Survata for publication by VentureBeat.

Encapsulating a business in a single word or phrase can be a daunting task. For startups, the name of the business becomes the first word of every investor pitch and the first message that’s spread to potential users. Although it’s often dramatized, a solid name can be a startup’s first step toward gaining legitimacy and recognition. Having led countless startups to a successful name, we at Survata were interested in compiling some insight to this all-important process. To do so, we reached out to founders who have braved the naming struggle firsthand.

Founders’ stories quickly illustrated how there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for choosing a company name, as no two anecdotes were quite alike. Jared Kopf, founder of AdRoll and HomeRun, outlined some major properties of a winning name. Kopf, who had a hand in naming both Yelp and Slide, looks for consistency between the URL, company name, and product name, and told us he aims for short, catchy names that work well as both nouns and verbs.

For Vastrm, a startup custom clothing maker, inspiration struck during a moment of clarity. The name (derived from a Sanskrit term meaning “cloth”) came to the founder “during a meditation after we had exhausted week over week of names and mashed-up phrases,” Vastrm founder Jonathan Tang recalled. “Sometimes the best solutions come once you are able to let the mind go.”

Other names didn’t come about so organically. Guidebox founder Jeremy Riney built a program to generate names for the television and movie streaming service. “I created a database table and filled it with every single one syllable word that had anything to do with television,” Riney said. “I sat with the combined list for a weekend and Guidebox was the clear winner.”

The availability of the domain name is often a roadblock in choosing a name, and factored heavily into many founders’ naming processes. For ad-retargeting service PerfectAudience, domain availability was the primary jumping off point. “We basically just guessed a ton of different combinations around ‘audience’ until we found an unpurchased domain,” founder Brad Flora said. Of course, a name is only good if you can use it (legally). For app-integration service Zapier, a trademark conflict sent them back to the drawing board, after founder Wade Foster found out their original name (“Snapier”) was already taken.

Through talking to different founders, we did come out a little wiser. Here are some resources to keep in mind when considering a company name.

Survata allows you to put a company name or logo in front of online respondents and collect timely feedback. Whether your company name is meant to evoke a certain feeling or spur a more concrete association, testing it can make sure your name is having the desired effect. By targeting respondents of different geography, gender, or age, a business can make sure their image doesn’t bring up any unwitting cultural associations (e.g. orange underwear).

And, while there are plenty of resources to check for domain availability, Domize and Domainr present available and due-to-expire domain names clearly and comprehensively, and allow for purchase straight from the results page.

For domain databases that provide more in the way of idea generation, Dot-o-mator displays available names, and has a handy compound name generator that allows you to filter by naming category and criteria. Impossibility! allows you to enter broader criteria, such as adding a noun or adjective to a keyword of your choice, and quickly generates a list of unregistered domain names that fit the bill.

Sometimes a human touch is helpful when developing a shortlist of possible names, and there are a number of services that allow companies to get name suggestions from creatives around the globe. Just as 99Designs does for logos, services like SquadHelp and Naming Force allow you to describe your project and receive a bevy of crowdsourced options created by their users.

So, whether a company’s naming journey is more mystical or data-backed, there are a number of factors to keep in mind and resources available at any step. Just give it some time, don’t be afraid to seek outside help, and come up with something that wouldn’t be humiliating to wear on a t-shirt.

Advertisers can improve any campaign using consumer research. Here’s how

Advertisers have used Survata’s consumer survey service in a variety of clever ways. Here are examples of some of our favorites:

Predict banner performance

If you run display advertising campaigns, you likely invest heavily in increasing your banners’ click-through rates. You can easily use surveys to test banner ad designs and calls to action: Just show various ads to consumers, and ask which one they would most likely click. Beware, this test demonstrates “stated preference” which can differ from “revealed preference.” But this is an inexpensive way to predict which banners will boost your CTR before paying for impressions.

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Predict search ad performance

Similar to testing banner ads, you can show different AdWords text ads to respondents and ask them which they’re most likely to click on. Again, this is a stated preference and not a revealed preference. But if you’re bidding on high CPC keywords, this survey may be more cost effective than running a live CTR test on AdWords.

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Track ad recall

Is your brand message sinking in? Surveying consumers can be a great way to find out.  You can measure ad recall by surveying a target group (who saw your ad) and a control group (who did not see your ad), and asking if they remember your stellar advertisement. For online campaigns, you can usually cookie users to verify who has seen the ad. For TV campaigns, you’re left to survey the demographic and geographic segments most likely to have seen your spot. (For bonus points, read up on aided vs. unaided recall.)

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Measure ad effectiveness

After you know whether consumers remembered your ad, you should measure whether it was actually effective. Run one survey before your campaign and one survey after your campaign to look for a lift in brand awareness, brand favorability, or purchase intent. Again, utilize a control group (consumers not exposed to your campaign) to ensure the lift was not from an exogenous factor. For businesses that are not “direct response” advertisers, ad effectiveness surveys are critical to knowing whether your expensive campaigns are paying off.

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Generate keyword ideas

Any search engine marketer would love to extend their keyword list, and surveys make this possible too. Ask respondents for the terms they’re likely to use when searching for a given topic, and prepare to be amazed by how many different ways there are to search for the exact same thing. Such a process will likely lead you to keywords not suggested by existing tools, like Google’s Keyword Planner.

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Pick the right commercial

Don’t let this happen to you. Show potential versions of your TV commercial to your target audience and ask a few questions to get feedback. This ensures your ad is a winner before it’s ever seen by the general public.

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Have an idea for something we missed? Post a comment and let us know!

Fist bumps or black cars? Uber and Lyft attract users for different reasons

Why book a hotel room when someone’s apartment is left empty? Why catch a cab when you have a “friend with a car”? Such is the logic behind Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, and other collaborative consumption services that have exploded in popularity. The services are typically more convenient and less expensive than traditional alternatives, but also tote loftier implications, like bringing together members of a community and facilitating a sharing economy.

We at Survata were curious if consumers use collaborative consumption services mostly for the practical benefits (like price and convenience), or if the sharing economy ethos was a significant motivator. So we surveyed 554 people who used some of the most popular ridesharing and roomsharing services and asked why they chose to do so.

Sharing is caring

Overall, the majority of people say they used services such as Lyft, Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Uber, Zipcar, and RelayRides for practical service benefits. “Convenience,” “price,” and “level of service” were the three most common answers when consumers were asked to describe why they use the services. However, a significant portion of respondents also cited motivations more in line with the sharing community, such as “meeting new people” and “supporting individuals in my community.”


Hitching a ride

When looking at customers of specific collaborative consumption services, we found that their motivations differed significantly. For example, Lyft and Uber, two ridesharing cab alternatives, draw customers for notably different reasons. Lyft aims to offer a social vibe, as reflected by their tagline of “your friend with a car” and fist bump greeting policy. Uber has a variety of service levels, from uberX, a service equitable to Lyft, to uberBLACK, which offers luxury cars at a premium price. The data shows people who use Uber are more likely to cite “level of service” and “convenience” as reasons for using the service, while Lyft users are  more likely to answer “meeting new people” and “supporting individuals in my community.”


Rooms for rent

Airbnb, while obviously operating in a different industry than Uber and Lyft, seems to have a relatively large portion of customers who list both service aspects and collaborative consumption aspects as reasons for using the service. “Convenience” and “price” were the top two answers, and “meeting new people” and “supporting individuals in my community” were also significantly above overall averages.


Our take

While fostering a community economy and bringing people together are admirable business goals, the data suggests that such aspects alone aren’t a sufficient motivator to win customers over, especially if they come at the expense of price or service level. Collaborative consumption services continue to take off (as evidenced by the popularity of the “Airbnb for x” startup formula), and we’re intrigued to see how brand messages evolve as more competition enters the market.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 554 online respondents from January 22 to February 11, 2014.
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing here.

8 Clever Ways Online Marketers Use Consumer Surveys

Online marketers have a plethora of web tools at their disposal. We at Survata are happy to see online marketing surveys becoming a more popular one, since they can inform a wide variety of business decisions. Marketers  have used our consumer survey service in many clever ways, so we wanted to share some highlights:

Defining your demographic

When developing a product or service, it’s essential to determine your target customer. The demographic sweet spot for your business may differ from your initial hunch or evolve over time, so it’s important to test your assumptions. It’s often helpful to start by surveying the general population about using your product, and follow up by targeting demographic subsets that responded positively. Progressively narrowing in on a demographic prevents you from surveying (or worse, selling to) an uninterested group.


Learning about product expectations

Validating demand for a product description is helpful, but working through the details is important too. Perhaps your new product is missing a critical feature, or you’re focusing on a specific aspect that’s not resonating with consumers. Describe a new business to consumers, and ask them what features and services they would expect it to include.


Finding the gap in your market

While it’s important to find out what your business is doing right, it’s also helpful to know what others are doing wrong. Learning what bothers consumers most about a specific industry is a great way to find a gap for your own product or service to address. There’s no need to guess how your business should be positioned in the market when you can ask consumers what shortcomings they see in existing services.


Testing names, logos, and taglines

Even with a committee or several rounds of edits, companies are capable of devising logos that rub their customers the wrong way. Running a survey to test a logo, label design, slogan, or product confirms your brand makes the intended impression, and communicates the features you need it to. Quickly putting your image in front of hundreds of consumers can prevent expensive adjustments down the road.


Hearing how others describe what you do

It’s one thing to feed marketing phrases to a potential customer, but how can you be sure your message is sinking in? It’s useful to hear your value prop repeated back to you. Put a screenshot of your homepage or marketing material in front of consumers, and have them describe what your service does. It’s the same language they’d use to spread the word about what your service does, so it’s important you hear it first.


Seeing how you stack up against competitors

It’s crucial for brands, especially established ones, to be self-aware. Are you the budget or top-shelf option? Are you youthful or do you have more of a geriatric appeal? Use a “forced ranking” question to have consumers rank you against your competitors on a variety of dimensions and find out.


Ranking aspects of your value prop

Another powerful use of a “forced ranking” question type is to have consumers provide their order of preference for different aspects of your service. Does ease of use matter more than quality of customer service? Every consumer has different opinions, and their aggregate data can help inform how you make business decisions.


Indexing your important numbers

Don’t settle for a snapshot; track your most important numbers over time. Building your own index helps you track the metrics that matter to you. For example, trust in a brand can fluctuate drastically with current events, and your target consumer’s behavior can change over time. Whether they are run monthly, quarterly, or annually, indexes can show how the needle is moving.

Have an idea for something we missed? Post a comment and let us know!

Denver lost, but Doritos and Budweiser won the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl offers an unparalleled opportunity for advertisers to make an impact with consumers (that is, if said advertisers happen to have $4 million lying around). And while Super Bowl XLVIII didn’t end up being the most climactic game in recent memory, the promise of a noteworthy commercial kept viewers watching until the end. We at Survata were curious to gauge which  ads were a big hit and which dropped the ball. To find out, we reached 1000 respondents overnight, all of whom reported they watched the entire game, and asked them to select their favorite commercial from a randomly selected group of six. Check out the full results below:

1. Doritos – “Cowboy Kid”

2. Budweiser – “Puppy Love”

3. Doritos – “Time Machine”

4. Budweiser – “A Hero’s Welcome”

5. Coca-Cola – “It’s Beautiful”

6. Coca-Cola – “Going all the Way”

7. Bud Light Platinum – “Equalizer”

8. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee – “Seinfeld”

9. M&Ms – “Delivery”

10. Beats music app – “Ellen DeGeneres”

Are your ads creating a buzz? Try Survata and find out.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 1,041 online respondents from February 3 to February 4, 2014.
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing here.

What will health nuts eat on Super Bowl Sunday? Nuts!

Super Bowl Sunday is generally a write-off day for most diets, as football fans commonly indulge in everything from a few brews to something called a Bacon Explosion.

Given the public discourse on Super Bowl snacks, we at Survata decided the event presented a good opportunity to gauge how people perceive some of the most popular snack food brands. We came up with a list of 39 food items, including popular brands of chips, crackers, cookies, snack bars, and fruit snacks. We showed over 1300 respondents five randomly chosen snacks from our list, and asked them to to rank the snacks in order from what they perceived to be the most healthy to the least healthy (we avoided the debate of what “healthy” actually means; respondents’ definition of “healthy” may of course vary).

We calculated an average ranking for each snack by assigning a numerical value based on each placement it received (1 for healthiest, 2 for second healthiest, etc.). Based on that total, Kashi Go Lean Bars had the highest overall rank, with an average score of just under 2. Planter’s Nuts and Nature Valley Granola Bars were a close second and third respectively. We found that Oreo was the least healthy snack (the snack with the lowest average ranking), followed by Cheetos and Little Debbie snacks. See what consumers chose as the healthiest and least healthy below, and check out the full results here.


There are obviously a number of ways to cut the data, including the percentage of times each snack was ranked healthiest or least healthy, but we found the results to be mostly consistent across all major metrics.

Our Take

While the highest and lowest ranked snacks came as no surprise, some puzzling results were found toward the middle of the list. Popchips, which has an ad campaign posturing the snack as a healthy alternative to potato chips, did not seem to resonate with the public, as the brand was nowhere near the highest ranked option. On the contrary, Welch’s Fruit Snacks ranked surprisingly high, beating out other snacks with relatively healthy reputations like Quaker Chewy Bars and Chex Mix. While we hope this report offered some interesting brand insight, we should add that we personally do not condone bringing health food to a Super Bowl party.

Is your brand sending the right messages? Try Survata and find out.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 1,319 online respondents from January 28 to January 30, 2014.
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing here.

SparkPeople uses Survata to discover 2014′s most popular fitness goals

If you had to wait for a treadmill at the gym this morning you’ve probably already realized this fact, but fitness and wellness goals are highly popular this time of year. While the New Year’s Resolution fitness craze is practically a given, the way people enact their goals rapidly evolves with new information and trends. SparkPeople, the web’s largest and most active healthy living destination, ran a Survata survey asking nearly 500 women about their health and fitness goals to put a finger on the pulse of popular wellness topics in 2014.

Among women age 25-54 who have a health-related New Year’s Resolution, “exercise more” was selected as the top goal most often (45%), followed by “eat healthier” (23%), and “reduce stress” (13%). The most popular fitness activities respondents plan to pursue in 2014 include yoga and running, both selected 29% of the time. Many respondents would go to considerable lengths in order to reach their fitness goals, including giving up chocolate (35%) or their vacation time (6%).


For SparkPeople, which offers medically-accepted wellness resources to over 15 million registered members, it’s essential to stay in tune with their demographic. Having used other market research tools in the past, SparkPeople said they greatly benefited from Survata’s expertise. “We’ve done surveys on our own with SurveyMonkey, but having a Survata survey analyst was helpful, and ensured we crafted the questions correctly,” said Treenah Kight of SparkPeople.

From there, SparkPeople were able to get hundreds of responses from people who could benefit from their articles, interactive tools, and vibrant community of members and wellness experts. The result? SparkPeople gained a meaningful glimpse into their target customers’ upcoming goals, and gathered proprietary data for a newsworthy press release (which received widespread media pickup).

Want to find out what your target demographic cares about? Try Survata today.

Tech Trust Index shows consumers trust Google and Amazon but not Sprint and AOL

It’s no secret that tech companies amass vast stores of user information, from tax records to snapshots of pumpkin spice lattes. What’s more ambiguous is how this personal information is used. And while major Internet companies like Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft publish transparency reports to distance themselves from NSA spying paranoia, companies like AT&T and Verizon are decidedly more opaque.

Given the public discourse on information gathering and transparency, we at Survata were curious to see which tech companies have garnered trust among consumers. To do so, we used our consumer survey tool to ask 3,175 online respondents to rank a group of companies in order from their most to least trusted.

In tech we trust

To rank the companies, we showed respondents five companies randomly drawn from our list of 20, and asked them to rank the companies from “most trusted” to “least trusted” with personal data. We found that, at 47%, Google was ranked as the most trusted company most often, followed by Amazon and Apple at 43% and 38%, respectively. AOL, Sprint, and Snapchat were ranked as the most trusted company least often.

There are of course other ways to cut this data. When ranking the companies by highest average placement, Amazon, Google, and Apple again earned the top three spots. Snapchat, Intuit, and AOL had the lowest average placement.

Snapchat is potentially an outlier in our group of 20 companies; because it doesn’t have the massive user base of a company like Apple, Google, or Yahoo, a lower percentage of respondents would have used it. Snapchat also (perhaps unfairly) has a well-documented reputation for exchanging particularly sensitive content (read: “sexting”).

Our take

We found it interesting that Google, which arguably holds the largest quantity of information on the average tech consumer, has maintained such a high level of popular trust. Further, we were surprised to see AT&T and Verizon among the top half of most trusted companies, considering they are bucking the trend of data sharing transparency. However, we expect this index (together with the technology of the companies themselves) to rapidly evolve.

Curious if consumers trust your company? Try Survata and find out.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 3,175 online respondents from December 5 to December 8, 2013.
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing here.