Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Paid Surveys, Deal Sites and Online Market Research

I subscribe to the daily e-newsletter of an online deal-aggregating site called slickdeals.net. It's basically a site that scours the interwebs for good deals on a daily basis, "community driven bargain hunting," if you will. It's actually pretty awesome given the breadth of products that it finds deals for. On this site, I have found deals for products ranging from machetes, knives, and handguns, to electronics, diapers, magazine subscriptions, and deals on airfare. It's a brilliant site.

My post today though, is not about slickdeals, but about a specific deal that was in its daily e-newsletter that I received this morning. "Free $20 Amazon gift card with survey at lexus.com," the listing said. Apparently, Lexus, to get visitors to their site to participate in a survey, was offering $20 Amazon.com gift cards to those who completed the survey. This listing caught my eye because as an avid buyer from Amazon, a $20 gift card is pretty much worth its value in cash. I went to Lexus.com and followed the directions, but apparently slickdeals users (and I'm sure other deal-aggregating-site-users) stormed Lexus.com and that promotion had already ended.

This was interesting to me from a marketing standpoint. I could see the wheels turning in the marketer's head: Lexus wants to know how visitors feel about their website, but everybody hates filling out surveys. How do we get visitors to their site to fill out the damn surveys? $20 Amazon gift card! BOOM, brilliant, how am I the first to think of this? But of course, a few hours and lots of $s later, they've got tons of data, but it is completely useless because the sample is no longer representative of people visiting the site out of curiosity about Lexus vehicles, but mainly consists of cheapo internet deal-aggregator-site-users looking to score an easy $20 Amazon gift card for answering some questions about a website hawking a car they couldn't give two shits about. Or maybe they do care about the car too and legitimately visited the site as well (I did...and designed myself the pretty IS-F below), but I suspect those kinds of visitors were few and far between.

It is interesting to see the various new problems that the next generation of marketers will have to deal with given the relatively new medium that is the internet. Hell, they're just now finally getting the hang of marketing via traditional media, and here comes the internet with a whole new set of problems, causing marketers to have to adjust their marketing strategies, even having to adjust their strategies dealing with traditional media.

How would I deal with it? I don't know. Perhaps figure out a way to gauge the actual interest of the visitor and then give them a gift card to fill out the survey? But it would have to be done in a way that can't be easily worked around by some schemers on a site like slickdeals. I don't know. I'm sure there is currently research being done that would allow a website to gauge interest given a user's clicking and scrolling pattern on a website. I definitely know that there have been studies done that show where people look when they visit a site. This, I suppose  is a question for future marketers.

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