How to create a survey for your startup

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T.A. from Gist has been a fantastic source of help and advice, and chatting to him this week he reminded me how important it is to gather information on your customers. This is something I've known in the abstract, but I've never properly put into practice. So today I built a simple process so people can sign up for my beta program and I can find out a bit about them. I used SurveyMonkey, which offers a basic service for free, but I went with the $200 annual package so I could customize the look and avoid some of the restrictions. Here's the result:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=GAxrTx02sg8Or3c1J1cZYg_3d_3d

The goal of the questions is to learn more about people who are interested in Mailana, so I can both contact the right people about testing new features that integrate with other services they're using, eg Outlook, Gmail or LinkedIn, and learn what I should be building based on what they're demanding.

Actually creating the survey was straightforward through SurveyMonkey's interface, but choosing the right questions was tougher. I wanted enough information to be useful, but not so much that people would fail to complete it. The first page covers personal and employment information, so I can understand who's using Mailana. The second asks probably the most important question on the survey, how likely they are to recommend it to a friend. This rating can be used to build a net-promoter score, a crucial metric for understanding how your customers view your service. I also ask about the other servces they use, so I can understand what the potential customer base is like for different kinds of integration, and who to contact about testing them.

The only downside with SurveyMonkey is that they don't offer an API to access the results, so I can't easily include any metrics in my daily report email, I'll just have to do frequent manual downloads. I've added a link on twitter.mailana.com, and I'm looking forward to hearing more from my customers through the program. If you're interested, please give it a try.

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