I am one of those people that subscribe to the notion that data is king.
As my accountant and advisory board reminds me – numbers never lie. That is why data is fundamental to the startup process; the problem is that there seems to be a lack of founders that actually canvas the market before they begin. I would say that at least 70% of the time when myself and the writers here at Startup Daily are fact checking claims founders have made regarding their startup or the industry they are in, they have relayed incorrect information.
Basing assumptions on gut before looking at the data is never a good idea. You get caught out or worse, you have to close the doors because you realise it’s not a product your target market was ever after in the first place.
To be fair though, startups don’t have the cash flow required presently for proper scalable market research. However with the release of “Audience” today by SurveyMonkey in Australia – that barrier has just been smashed, in a big way.
In previous articles around data I have mentioned that currently, the big players in the survey and polling space are Newspoll, Galaxy and ReachTel. SurveyMonkey is set to challenge those players, and they already have a strong list of foundation clients that proves they mean business – Australian Government Department of Industry, WA Public Transport Authority, Open Colleges and Insurance Australia Group are already actively using the “Audience” service.
Sitting down last week with SurveyMonkey Audience General Manager and Vice President, Brent Chudoba – I was able to see the systems capabilities first hand. There are three aspects that I really like about it:
1. The navigation is simple and intuitive
2. The system is scalable, which also means the pricing is affordable for startups, and small to medium business.
3. SurveyMonkey has already built a database of 20,000 local respondents and that number should increase to 200,000 within the next 12 to 18 months.
Given that Australia is the place in the world with the highest user rate per capita it makes sense that the company has chosen to launch the service here before any other country outside of the United States.
A driving force behind the high quality of Australian respondents is SurveyMonkey Audience’s unique recruitment model. The company donates 50 cents to a partner charity selected by the respondent for every survey completed. Chudoba says SurveyMonkey’s very fast acquisition and high engagement rates are growing the Australian pool at a rate faster than expected.
“By the end of next year we’ll have the largest and highest quality pool of respondents in Australia, just as we do in the US. We think SurveyMonkey Audience will significantly impact the market, allowing researchers to get accurate, useful insight into what Australians think and what they want,” Chudoba says.
So what exactly are the kinds of things that “Audience” can be used for?
Chudoba showed Startup Daily some examples of how Silicon Valley startups were using the service. Consumer focused services seemed to be a sweet spot with Gaming companies and Ecommerce style businesses using the service to compile market data before launching their new ventures.
What was really useful is the way in which you can really drill right down to what is important to your business. Targeting criteria range from gender, age and location to household income, children’s age, technology, industry and education. Startups can get a clear indication on answers to questions like – What products most probably will or won’t sell? Is your target audience actually who thought it would be?
“This will really enable businesses to understand consumers and communicate with them more effectively. Research can be used to develop and tailor products and services, and allocate marketing budgets much more effectively,” says Chudoba.
In addition to enhancing the ability to make smarter business decisions – survey’s such as those run through Audience are fantastic for seeking media – and as the startup scene grows larger and becomes more competitive, numbers and statistics will be what makes you stand out in the crowd.
To give you a deeper insight as to why this play is such a game changer, we need to look at the pricing structures. Currently in Australia a survey or opinion poll with a guaranteed number of participants from a specific group of people would set you back around $7,500. If we compare that to the average $3,500 that SurveyMonkey will sit around on, the large cost savings to brands, big and small alike is apparent.
The collection and compilation of data is a very profitable market; and considering 1 in 10 Australians are personal users of the service, it would be fair to assume that decision makers within larger corporations would be familiar with or are currently users of the product and brand.
I am going to make a call that within a year, SurveyMonkey will own a considerable chunk of the Enterprise Data Market.