Making a List, Checking it Twice

It’s the time of the year when everyone is making lists. From errands to shopping, if your to-do list is anything like mine, then it’s probably quite long. But — while lists are an effective way of organizing and planning — being able to access all of your information from an easily manageable central repository makes lists even more useful.

And, as a feature of our Engage platform, Contact Manager more than meets your list-making needs.

If you aren’t using Contact Manager, then you should begin because lists are a huge time saver. Not only can you send surveys to all of your contacts, selected contacts or random contacts, but just like your personal address book or rotary file, you can also add particular details to each contact.

And if you already have a contact list in Excel, no problem. Simply upload the file, and let our system do all of the work.

Once you have created your lists, make sure you periodically update them. The system will rate each of your lists based on their quantity (the number of contacts) and quality (active, bounced or unsubscribed addresses). This system allows you to easily edit or remove any outdated or unnecessary information.

With a clean and up-to-date list, you can tackle your next survey launch with the same ease and organization as Little Saint Nick!

Let’s Settle This

I remember a time in AP U.S. History when Lake — my only classmate who could grow a beard — decided to survey the class on whether or not he should shave it. Everyone chimed in — shave it, don’t shave it or make it into a crazy design. In Zarca terms, he conducted a public survey using a radio button question with an “other” option.

Since I work at a survey company, I tend to think about surveys more than most people. And, like Lake, I know that surveys are powerful and valuable, no matter how they’re being used. In my office, we use surveys to settle just about anything.


We take the awkwardness out of remembering if our colleagues prefer brownies, cake or ice-cream cake by sending a survey to new team members. After all, it would be quite embarrassing to get an ice-cream cake for someone who is lactose intolerant.

Naming Spaces

After repurposing some office space, we decided to name the new work area.* Instead of lengthy debates and potential conflicts, we conducted a survey to narrow down the potential names and another one to pick a winner.

*This post is proudly brought to you from “The Lab.”


During our Chili Cook-Off, team members taste-tested eight different types of chili. The winners were chosen via a survey that utilized unique URLs, anonymity and a ranking question. No ballot-box stuffing allowed!

General Debates

When colleagues can’t seem to agree on wall art, who makes the best music or where to have lunch, we use surveys to settle things fairly.

Surveying is a powerful way to acquire and disseminate information. And there’s nothing wrong with using our Engage platform to have a little fun, too. When you want reliable data — no matter what that data is — surveys or polls are the way to go!

Dig a Little Deeper

Living at home with your teenage brother has its perks — well, for him. Being a doting sister, I drive him to practice, bake him cookies and sometimes search his messy room for the “Orange Rocket” diagrams he forgot to take to school.

When he asked me to find them, I looked high and low. During my search, which went on way too long, I found some trash — namely, granola bar wrappers and empty Gatorade bottles. I also found things I didn’t want to see such as an AP Language quiz with a few too many red marks and, of course, more trash.

Surprisingly, I also found the Ray-Ban sunglasses he thought were lost and calculus homework (which was beyond my comprehension) that he scored a perfect grade on. All these disparate items were just lying around waiting to be discovered. Looking for my brother’s diagrams in a sea of papers, trash and dirty clothes was a lot like reading open-ended responses in surveys.

Even with features to prevent GIGO, some responses will still be useless junk. There will also be a few candid comments you won’t expect, yet provide helpful feedback nonetheless. But — buried beneath it all — you’ll discover some incredibly useful insights that validate your excavation efforts.

With open-ended responses, you may not always find exactly what you’re looking for (my brother had the diagrams the whole time), but allowing your participants to provide open feedback will give you a more substantial understanding of your respondents and a better idea of what’s working and what’s not.

Sometimes, It IS Complicated

February’s here. And for the shortest month of the year, there’s plenty going on. There’s the Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, Mardi Gras and Presidents’ Day. But everyone knows Valentine’s Day is the most important day of the month.

It’s the day people either love, or love to hate.

When I think of Valentine’s Day, I think back to third grade. My teacher would force us to create cards for everyone in our class, make little mailboxes and walk around the class delivering the cards we’d made. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Valentine’s Day was also the first time I participated in a survey.

As I walked around making special deliveries, my friend Brittany handed me a piece of wide-ruled notebook paper with one scribbled question:

Do you like Evan?

  • Yes
  • No

I checked “No,” and gave it back to her. Weeks later, Evan started “dating” Emily. I was heartbroken.

If I were to design that survey today, I would use one of my favorite features, Question Display Logic. That way, when I selected “No,” a text box would appear allowing me to explain why — that my other friend Sara already called dibs on Evan, and I was bound by the code of friendship, despite my true feelings. Remember, I was in third grade.

Surveys don’t have to be long and complicated. But if you’re asking Rating or Yes/No questions, it’s a good idea to allow respondents to explain their answers further. Understanding the reasoning and context of certain answers paints a more complete picture of the respondent — giving survey creators and takers some needed nuance.

Because sometimes it is complicated.

You have my attention…now don’t lose it.

As a lifelong shopper, I’m at the point where I anticipate survey invitations following a purchase or a trip. (Although I’m still not sure how much valuable input I can share from a two-minute visit to purchase a pack of gum.) In fact, I’m surprised if I don’t receive a request for feedback.

A few weeks ago I went on vacation and, like clockwork, received a survey invitation within 36 hours of returning home. Since I was on a mission to ensure one of the staff members will be named the next Employee of the Month, I was eager to participate. Unfortunately, though, my interest dwindled as the minutes ticked by. Although I diligently answered page after page of  questions, the progress bar barely moved. This survey felt longer than my entire vacation.

There are many challenges when launching survey initiatives. First, you have to entice your audience to open the survey. Then, once you have their attention, you have to keep it. If they feel the survey is too long, they’ll soon bolt.

Since I work in the survey business, I understand wanting feedback on every little detail to best improve your product or service. But, seriously, everyone shouldn’t be asked everything.

For instance, if someone didn’t visit the spa, even if they wish they had, then they shouldn’t be forced to wade through pages of spa questions. That’s where tools like Branching and Question Display Logic come into play. Branching respondents to just the most relevant survey questions cuts the survey’s length, which helps ensure that participants not only finish your survey but also provide quality feedback. It’s a win-win situation.

With Zarca Interactive, you can quickly and easily create powerful, personalized surveys. Get feedback you can put into action, such as making Ricky “Employee of the Month” (hint, hint.)


Survey Invites

I recently returned from a weeklong business trip. After two flights, three hotels and a handful of events, I returned to an inbox flooded with customer satisfaction surveys.  While I’m always up for putting in my two cents — regardless of whether the experience was great, terrible or mediocre — I was struck by how amazingly uninviting some of these emails looked. No personalization, no customization, just plain old text with a link. I couldn’t help but think, are they serious?

One easy way to avoid the delete button and increase response rates is to customize your survey invitations. Using brand colors and including your logo shows effort and legitimacy, while personalizing your email sets the right tone for this big event, a.k.a. your survey. After all, would you attend a party thrown by someone you kind of know after receiving a lazy-looking invitation? I know I wouldn’t.

Zarca Interactive has many tools in place to help you customize your survey invitations. You can pull the color scheme directly from your website or pick and choose your own colors. You can also select fonts and borders that best reflect your company’s brand. Adding a logo is the final touch to creating a great first (or second) impression.  The invitation is the door to your survey, so it should be as welcoming as possible.

The Power of a Post

Social media is here to stay, and ignoring that fact is like ignoring a cavity. It seems small and insignificant at first, but when you are in agony at 3:00 in the morning on your way to an emergency root canal, you’ll wish you would have taken care of it sooner. Okay, it’s not that painful, but you’re certainly not doing your company or organization any favors by dismissing social media as  a passing fad.

Revolutions and social movements have been mobilized through social media. Companies have seen stocks drop when customers flock to Twitter and Facebook in public outcry after a sudden product or service change. Social media has evolved  beyond the days of simply posting vacation photos online. Today, people use social media outlets to connect, communicate, compliment and complain.

Many companies and organizations have social media plans in place.  These groups use social media to leverage their brand, communicate with customers and build loyalty. Engagement is key to every social media plan. And one way to engage your customers is to invite them to take your survey via Facebook and Twitter.

If you want input from your fans and followers on topics such as customer experience, Zarca’s Winter ‘12 Release allows you to post surveys directly to your Facebook and Twitter pages with one simple click.   If you are thinking about re-branding or changing a product or service, use social media to gather customer feedback and avoid a detrimental mistake. Closing the loop is essential for effective two-way communication. Sharing surveys on social media is a powerful way to show that you’re always listening to your customers.

What Survey Responses Have in common with Party Attendance

At Zarca Interactive, we talk a lot about driving up survey response rates. Sometimes it reminds me of my Sweet Sixteen party (I know, you’re thinking how’s that possible, read on, please). Surveys and parties are quite similar. You have to plan both carefully and every detail counts: the type of party (survey types), the guest list and invites (who to invite, how to invite), the decor and ambiance (look & feel), the activities (questions), and the thank yous (thank yous).

Despite how popular you are (or think you are), everyone does not want to go to your party. Sure, there are always the guests who show up just for the sake of partying. But for most people, they need to have a reason.The same can be said for your survey. Whether you are a Fortune 500 or a small non-profit, your survey response rates are not what they should be. To avoid feeling like that girl with only five people at her Sweet Sixteen, you have to analyze and plan for your invitees.

First, you need to minimize the cost for invitees. Make your surveys easy to find, easy to answer, and easy to finish. No matter how great your survey is (or you think it is), if it’s too far away, too boring, and too long, most people won’t bother.

Even more important, you need to give them a reason to show up. Are you giving away incentives? Using their feedback to make a great new product or improve a service? Tell them from the get-go. If you make the survey experience more about them, they will be more motivated to participate.

Remember, parties (and surveys) are never fun when they are all about the host!

How are you getting invitees to show up to your survey?