News & Analysis

‘Australian businesses are drowning in data’ and SurveyMonkey’s new Managing Director wants to help them make sense of it

- March 16, 2015 3 MIN READ

Almost a year ago, globally leading survey platform SurveyMonkey opened its doors in Australia – the company’s first base in the Asian-Pacific region. At the time, the platform had around 830,000 local users and Australia was the third largest market in the world for the company, based on penetration per capita.

The last 12 months have been strong for SurveyMonkey as far as growth in Australia is concerned and this morning it officially announced the appointment of former Microsoft and LinkedIn executive Tony Ward as the company’s first Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand.

Ward’s responsibilities include continuing to build the local team and driving strategy to capitalise on the traction that the company has seen since launching its Sydney office last May.

Up until that point, the only ‘players’ that had a physical presence locally (that is, the top end of town) were Newspoll, Galaxy and ReachTel. But SurveyMonkey, who already had a strong list of foundational clients in Australia such as the WA Public Transport Authority, Open Colleges, Insurance Australia Group and the Australian Government Department of Industry, used that as leverage to continue building and acquiring new businesses. 

“We are in the process of democratising research and insights to help companies make better and faster business decisions with data,” said Tim Maly, COO & CFO of SurveyMonkey in a statement sent out to media this morning.

“We’re thrilled to have someone of Tony’s calibre driving this vision. In particular, his understanding of the needs of marketers and creative agencies in Australia will be critical in continuing to grow SurveyMonkey’s partnerships in this sector.”

It’s worth noting that Ward is first and foremost an extremely accomplished marketer that has been using the SurveyMonkey suite of products since the early 2000s. Ward told Startup Daily that what he finds interesting about the product now is that it has really transformed from being a tool to a platform that is geared towards helping companies, including the business-to-business space.

Right now Australian businesses spend about $35 billion a year on marketing. As a former Chief Marketing Officer, Ward says he is well aware that the joke of the industry is 50 percent of all marketing budgets are wasted, but marketers can just never tell which 50 percent.

“Businesses are drowning in so much data that it’s hard to know what numbers are actually moving things forward. Our goal is to give businesses actionable, quality insights at speed, not add to the noise. Speed is the new currency of business,” says Ward.

One of the key challenges that Ward will be tasked with is strengthening SurveyMonkey’s relationships with local agencies in hopes that the two will collaborate more. While it could be claimed that the platform is already pretty popular in this space, it is important for the company to obtain market dominance in this niche in order to position itself as an enterprise level solution.

To give you insight as to why that is so critical and also why SurveyMonkey is such a disruptor to the existing top tier players, we just need to look at the pricing structures. Right now, the cost to run an ‘average’ campaign across SurveyMonkey using its ‘Audience’ tool would set a business back about $3,500. In comparison, a survey of the same size with one of the aforementioned brands playing in the same space would cost a company about $7,500. The cost savings are clear – about 50 percent.

What SurveyMonkey needs to get right (and has been doing a good job of so far) is positioning itself as a premium and trustworthy product for collecting and collating data. The collection and compilation of data is a profitable market; and considering one 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.   

“Audience is giving agencies the power to go to their clients with actual data to support what they want to do,” says Ward. “They can use the SurveyMonkey Audience platform to find out what the market says, and back up their hypothesis. It breaks the stalemate when everyone clings to a different view or gut feel; now they are actually able to find out what consumers think”.

Featured image: SurveyMonkey Team | Source: Supplied