Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Will you be sending Microsoft any birthday wishes?

In 30 years Microsoft has risen from nowhere to dominate and define the worlds computers.

Love them or loathe them their technology is found everywhere throughout the world.

Young pretenders like Google can dent but have a long way to go before they can hope to topple the Microsoft juggernaut that dominates the top spot.

Ironically Microsoft was handed their opportunity by IBM who at the time ruled the computer industry roust.

On their 30th year how do you view Microsoft and their key personalities like Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer?

Will a company like Google find a way to eventually topple Microsoft from their perch and has having such a dominate company benefited the computer industry?

If you would like to participate in this survey click on this link Happy Birthday Microsoft.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Promoting Your Online Survey

Having created and published your online survey the next step is to get the right people to participate. How many and who you specifically target will depend entirely on the survey subject and your specific objectives.

For some surveys such as employee surveys there is likely to be natural and available list of respondents, for customer services there may be both a list and a website that can be used to promote a survey. Small surveys may only need to be promoted by word of mouth while others will require considerable effort to form a sample that will provide you with good market research data.

With surveys coming in every shape and size and with objectives that can cover market research, marketing and education a surveys sample requirements can range from general to specific as the population is sliced and diced into categories.

Listed here are a number of methods that can be used either on their own or in combinations so as to complement one another.


One of the most popular methods of promoting an online survey is to send emails that contain a link to the survey to invited respondents using a mailing list. The mailing list could be a list of employees as in the case of an employee survey, a customer list for a customer service survey or a list of medical students from a college for a survey targeting medical students.

Although mailing lists can be obtained that target specific groups or business sectors one must be mindful that a survey invitation could be perceived by the recipient as being spam.

Where the objective of the survey is gather feedback, as in the case of a project post-mortem, it would be feasible as part of the normal correspondence between business partners to include an invitation to complete a survey with the purpose of obtaining valuable feedback.

A method that can be useful for organisations such as charities who wish to target corporate employees is to make an inquiry to a large organisations CEO or customer relations department and ask if they would help promote the survey using their internal email system.

The advantage with using Email is that it is quick and cost effective and the distribution of invitations can be well targeted and controlled.

When sending a large number of email invitations, even if the technology allows it, try to avoid the temptation to email them all in one go. It is a good policy to send your email invitations in batches so that if there are any errors or problems they are identified early and there is an opportunity to make corrections with minimal impact.


To complement an email promotion or where a suitable email list is not available another popular method is to use a single or multiple website to publicise a survey by having a link to the survey on the website.

This method is ideal for survey publishers who already have an active website and where the surveys objective is to gather feedback from unregistered visitors who will not appear on mailing lists as well as registered visitors who probably do.

As an example an online store can gain valuable feedback from the visitors to their website that do not purchase anything as well as those who are loyal and regular customers.

With the practice of purchasing mailing lists being on the decline specialist websites can sometimes offer the opportunity for a survey to be publicised to a well target audience. If for example a survey is aimed at young people then university websites and websites that specialise in music and club culture will have a ready source of that social group that can be tapped into.

If the publisher of a survey does not have any control or access to a suitable website, and depending on the exact nature of the survey, it may be possible to request assistance from those websites that do have the volume of traffic from the target market, or you may want to consider paying a fee to have the survey promoted on specialist websites.

Organic Search Engine Listing

It is possible by including a detailed introduction as part of the survey to make the survey available to search engines allowing each search engine to index the survey so that it will appear in relevant search results.

How successful this method would be depends on a lot of factors and where the publisher has a ready sample source they may not want the survey to be indexed by search engines at all.


Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising such as Google's Adwords can also be used to promote a survey by creating an advertisement that will be triggered by relevant search terms providing a method of targeting specific groups.

With the sophisticated PPC facilities you are able target your promotion on an international, national or regional basis allowing you to specifically target your geographical as well as interest group.

Surveys are not always conducted with impartiality in mind especially when they are conducted for the purpose of sustaining a particular argument. PPC can be used influence a seemingly impartial survey by directing it at people who hold certain views thereby ensuring support, or opposition, to a particular argument. If the intention is to conduct impartial market research then when using PPC the search terms used to trigger the advertisement will need to cover equally both sides of any argument and serious consideration should be given as to whether PPC is an appropriate method of promotion; in some cases it will be, in others it will most certainly not.

The downside of PPC can be the cost, certainly if your market research is being conducted with minimal funds and the promotion is competing for commercial search terms, however in some cases where the required search terms are non-commercial the promotion can use search terms that can be purchased at minimal cost.

Telephone Survey

Survey Galaxy provides a facility to allow online surveys to be conducted over a telephone with the interviewer entering the response information on behalf of the respondent who they are interviewing over the telephone.

As with email, telephone lists can be purchased and also like email care should be taken as people are developing a growing aversion to receiving unsolicited telephone calls.

Telephone interviews can prove very effective especially where you need to conduct a survey where the results may be skewed if you relied on a cross section of internet users only. Although the Internet community now represents a broad section of the overall community if for example a survey was concerned with peoples' reluctance to get online, obtaining respondents through online methods would be inappropriate.


Promoting surveys through forums can prove to be effect. Since forums by their nature often attract like minded groups of people matching the right forum with the survey subject can be very rewarding.

However, one should respect the forum rules and forum members can regard requests to participate in surveys made by new members as spamming the forum. Where a person has a history of using a particular forum they can however gain a good response from their fellow members who are asked to participate.

Press Releases

Online press release websites can be used to promote a new survey and can help the survey to establish a good ranking for general search engine inquiries.


Similar to Forums Blogs also offer an opportunity to promote a survey. The effectiveness is likely to be directly proportional to the popularity of the Blog and the subject matter of the survey. Starting a new Blog to publicise a survey may not prove effective, but using one that has already establish an audience is likely to generate a good response.

Snail Mail

The traditional forms of promotion should not be overlooked and mail shots using letters to introduce and invite participants can be very effective for certain types of surveys.


Posters can be used to grab the attention and invite interested parties to participate in a poster. Prominently displayed in areas frequented by the target audience they can often have a instant visual impact and give the opportunity to follow up the visual image with well a crafted headline.

A good example would be for a survey that is attempting to research a psychological condition where potential participants who have experienced certain events in their lives will not be on any lists and across all social and age groups. A poster could be displayed in public places such as transport hubs, hospitals and entertainment venues.

Notice boards

Electronic or physical notice boards can prove to be an effective method of survey promotion. Notice boards can be of a general or specific nature and as such can be used to targeted groups of people

Direct Company

Approaching a company directly can enable you to tap into a ready source of suitable respondents. To avoid spamming a company it is recommended that permission should be sought from the specific company's senior management, human resources or customer relations department.


Sporting events, festivals or trade shows can provide market researchers with a concentration of like minded people. However, you should not expect people who are attending such events will be in the mood or position to respond to surveys. An effective way to tap into this source of respondents is to hand out business style cards with a short explanation as to the objective of the survey and with a link to the online survey.

The size of the card is important as it can be put in a pocket easily so that when each potential respondent returns home they will take time to participate in the survey.


If access is available to any form of radio, air, digital or online, an announcement promoting a survey can generate a good response proportional to the number of listeners.

There are many radio channels to choose ranging from national, regional, local and specialist channels that generate audiences that can be categorised by age and interest.


As with formal events there is an opportunity to target the general public as they go about their normal business. Although individuals can be canvassed and asked to complete surveys there and then handing out business card style notices requesting them to participate in a survey later could prove more productive.

On Product Packaging

Products can carry a label with a link back to an online survey. This would be an ideal way of gathering feedback on a particular product or it could be used just as a vehicle for promoting a survey that is unrelated to the product.

On invoices and corporate publications

General correspondence that confirms an action such as an invoice or delivery note can be used to promote a survey and thereby gather valuable customer relations feedback.


The need to give incentives to people for them to participate in surveys will very much depend on the subject and length of the survey. For a short survey you may not need to offer any incentive but as a general rule the longer and harder the survey the more incentive is required.

Incentives can be in the form of a payment, vouchers, free gifts or entry into a prize draw. For some surveys such incentives might be inappropriate as in the case of an internal employee survey; for these types of surveys some incentive may be required to ensure a good and timely response and they could take the form of an explanation explaining the benefits of participating in a survey such as it leading to improvements in the working environment.


Listed here have been some of many methods that can be used to promote an online survey.

The 'survey' is no longer the cumbersome market research method that it once was, often valued but requiring considerable time and effort; with online surveys they can be created in a few hours, published in the morning and through the power of the internet provide meaningful results in an easy to read form by the end of day.

With the speed, ease of use and diverse methods of promotion today's online surveys are effective not only for market research but for marketing, education, consultation and communication.

Each survey will have an objective that when coupled with available resources and a time scale will together determine which of the many available methods of promotion are the most suitable; because objectives, resources and circumstances vary there can however be no absolute right or wrong.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Vegetarian Conundrum?

Details have been published in a biotechnology journal that describes a new technique that has been hailed as the answer to the world's food shortage. Lumps of meat would be cultured in laboratory vats rather than carved from livestock reared on a farm.

For many vegetarians who believe that meat is murder the revolutionary processed would see fresh meat grown from animal cells without a single animal being killed.

According to the researchers, meat grown in laboratories would be more environmentally friendly and could be tailored to be healthier than farm-reared meat by controlling its nutrient content and screening it for food-borne diseases.

If you are a vegetarian would you consider eating meat if it could be proved it was produced without harming the donor animal; and if you are a meat eater would the ultimate in processed food appeal to you?

If you would like to participate in this survey click on this link Vegetarian Conundrum?.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Should parents be able to choose the sex of their baby?

It is now possible to allow parents who use fertility treatment to choose the sex of their children.

Should sex selection play a role in terms of family balancing?

With public support some countries allow sex selection only to avoid gender-linked medical conditions such as haemophilia.

The question though being asked now is if there are moral issues in allowing parents to choose the sex of their children to allow a family balance, for example a family with four sons wishing to have a daughter?

If it is thought okay to choose the sex of the fourth child, why not the first?

What do you think?

If you would like to participate in this survey click on this link Should parents be able to choose the sex of their baby?.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Compliance Officer's Killer Application

All organisations need to keep abreast of regulatory developments relevant to their business but to do so they need to enter into a regulatory and legal minefield.

Human resource personnel now need to grapple with the nuances of employment and health and safety law, in some industries corporate manslaughter charges are a real risk and for others licensing laws have reached new heights of complexity. With the growth in e-commerce where consumer protection is dependent on jurisdiction, trademark and intellectual property laws are becoming confused and the 'risk' list for all organisations is now seemingly endless.

Small businesses in particular are finding that a casual and informal approach to these issues can result in regulatory censure and regulatory fines that can have no bearing on the financial health of the individual company; for larger companies there is the potential of material, financial and reputational damage.

Small to medium businesses will rarely have the luxury of employing a full time Compliance Officer but they should charge someone with the responsibility and although larger organisations can afford a dedicated person they are finding that with compliance issues mushrooming the Compliance Officer now has a team, a department and if not already, how long before compliance becomes a division?

Regardless of size, the first step in compliance for any organisation requires them to identify the areas of compliance that are applicable to them. Rules and regulations are being introduced monthly on a local, regional, national and international level, covering everything from data protection and freedom of information, anti-money laundering to environmental waste control, race relations to health and safety; with ignorance being no defence there is a requirement on the individual businesses to know their responsibilities, and fines for those that wait to be told.

Having identified the areas of compliance the company then needs to understand what they need to do to ensure they comply. It is becoming conceivable that with the shear volume of compliancy issues that companies who can show a good faith effort in complying will, even when they fall short, reduce the risks of fines; to do so they need to demonstrate that they had every intention of acting within the spirit of the rules and that specific and timely action was being taken in relation to any failings or breaches. This is where the culture of the organisation is key.

With Compliance issues identified and understood the Compliance Officer needs to define and implement policy and disseminate the information throughout the organisation

It is important for the Compliance Officer that they do not inadvertently become the company's patsy. Senior managers are not averse to ignoring the internal memos they receive advising them of their responsibilities. Compliance Officers need to deliver their messages up and down the corporate food chain and record that their advice and directives have been received and more importantly understood.

The Compliance Officer has to avoid becoming the company scapegoat. This won't happen by itself, a sales team that has a long history of success though a relaxed attitude to selling is not going to willingly adopt new, and what they will see as restrictive, practices without a fight. 'I didn't get the memo', 'I didn't understand it', 'I thought it meant something else', 'I thought these were only guidelines' are likely to be stock replies, along with the one or two old timers that didn't think compliance issues applied to them. It used to be a safe bet to blame IT, blame Compliance is rapidly taking its place. This is where follow-up and disciplinary action by senior management is imperative.

To survive in this challenging environment, the compliance officer needs to have several spanners in the tool kit, buy-in of senior management, a strict reporting process and a good flow of management information. But what else - an excellent means of communication - this is key - the compliance officer needs to connect and communicate with the business - one tool that can bring real results is the online survey and questionnaire.

online survey can deliver a message internally to the individual; it can be informative like a memo and educational by referencing detailed policy. Importantly it can become a valuable self registering record that confirms that the information has been properly disseminated and understood.

A single survey question can achieve all these objectives at the same time.Take an example:-

Are you aware that section 45 of the Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Act 2003 imposes an obligation on directors of certain companies to prepare statements on their company's compliance with its relevant obligations?
Click here for a summary of Company's Policy on Compliance Reporting Obligations)

For those Directors that have not read the policy the survey will give an opportunity to view the company's policy online (using an embedded live HTML link). Should Directors answer 'No' the Compliance Officer knows who to target.

The survey also records the manager's response and shifts the responsibility away from the Compliance Officer to the individual manager where the responsibility needs to rest for a company to meet its compliance obligations.

Using an online website such as www.surveygalaxy.com where multiple surveys can be managed, easily modified, updated and re-issued on a periodic basis across an organisation online surveys can be the Compliance Officer's killer application.

Through the regular use of online surveys the Compliance Officer will be in the driving seat, leading and not chasing compliance issues, not only circulating the information on a one to one basis but also monitoring and recording the level of awareness throughout the organisation.

The Compliance Officer's role is a difficult one, like a parent keeping a wayward child on the straight and narrow, most employers, let alone their employees, often do not fully understand the true consequence of their, often innocent, minor discretions. Assigning a Compliance Officer is a start but enabling them to fulfil their remit will be the difference between a company being fully compliant and one that risks suffering the consequences for having let compliance take a back seat.

Hurricane Katrina

It seems that no one is arguing that the initial relief aid to areas affected by Hurricane Kartina was anything other that unacceptable. The US President, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the state government officials have all acknowledged that mistakes have been made.

Is enough now being done to tackle the enormous task to repair the breeches in the levees and clear the city of flood water or are the politicians still more concerned with shifting the blame?

If you would like to participate in this survey click on this link Hurricane Kartina.