The All-Powerful B2B Survey with Ramel Levin, Global Surveyz
In B2B marketing, it’s not enough to get attention. To sell a vision, you need to educate. And while educating experts in their own field – is typically solved by content, crappy blog posts (“10 Ways Your Cloud Storage Is Dropping Bits”) are so 2010.
This episode solves that. With a survey. Crowd-sourced surveys may be one of a marketer’s most effective tools. So this interview goes really deep, talking to Ramel Levin, a B2B marketing executive who believed in surveys so passionately, he started a company that does just that.
Listen to the full episode to hear how Ramel designs a survey, key tips for creating landing pages, effective distribution strategies and how a massive PalmPilot win (seriously) made it all possible.
- Ramel on LinkedIn, where you can get a live feed of his surveys
- Some recent surveys he ran (Cyber Six Gils, Verbit, Kaltura) and many others
- A presentation of mine about how crowdsourced data makes or breaks content (Deck)
[00:00:00] Eytan Buchman: Four years ago, I watched a Ted Talk where an ox was marched onto the stage and the crowd guessed how much he weighed. There were over 500 guesses ranging from about 300 pounds to 8,000. At the end of the day, the crowd of non-ox experts were off by only three pounds. It was an incredible example of the power of crowdsourced knowledge. [00:00:29] It’s pretty much taken for granted that one of the best paths to build up that expertise today is by providing mindblowing value through content. But therein lies the challenge. It’s hard. In the B2B space, we typically sell to people who have spent their entire lives building up knowledge, only for us to try to one up them with a knowledge bomb and convert them as quickly as possible.
[00:00:50] So in this episode, we’re going to deep- dive on one of my favorite B2B content tools. And we’re going to do it with someone who’s tech career has spanned a successful PalmPilot app and a bunch of marketing roles at top tier B2B companies. All of those led him to go incredibly deep on one tool – surveys. But first you’re listening to Marketers in Capes with G CMO, a community of top Israeli marketers and I’m Eytan Buchman.
[00:01:12] Now, before I introduce our survey wizard, this is also a great time to shout out to our sponsors. Stratt ic. Oxen, maybe slow. My website is not that’s because Strattic converts my janky WordPress website into an incredibly fast and secure static website. Check it out at strattic.com. Now for the main entree. And let’s start with a survey. On a scale of one to 10. How excited are you to finally get started?
[00:01:37] Ramel (Surveyz): Hi everyone. I’m Ramel Levine. I think I’m the only person on LinkedIn whose title is Chief Survey Master. I’ve been doing B2B marketing for a little bit over 20 years. Before I did marketing, I was a software engineer and quickly made the change to marketing I worked at companies like Papaya, Panaya, Clicktale ,CloudEndure or StrataScale. So I’ve been pretty much around
[00:02:02] Eytan Buchman: Rommel’s origin story with surveys started a long time ago. Back when Palm Pilots were cutting edge and he decided to try his engineering chops on them.
[00:02:10] Ramel (Surveyz): At that time there were less than a hundred applications available for Palm pilot. So I sat, I learned how to do it, I developed WorldMate and it grew like crazy. We had hundreds of thousands of users within the first two years or so. It was initially priced at $19.95 and it was pay once and get it for you in your entire life.
[00:02:31] And at the time most of the software available for Palm Pilot, were either free or cost a few dollars. We wanted to add more and more services, we wanted to add currency conversion, flight information and things like that. And obviously we want it to charge more because it started to cost us a lot of money.
[00:02:49] Eytan Buchman: Don’t worry. Here’s where the survey comes in.
[00:02:52] Ramel (Surveyz): So we spoke with the owner of the biggest online shop for PalmPilot software. It was called Palm Gear and we asked him, Hey, Kenny, we want to raise the price. From $20 to $50 or something like that. And he said, I think you’re going to lose half your customers, but th the other half would pay more than double their price. You actually earn more money and he’ll get less support. So it’s actually a good thing. I heard his answer and I wanted to do something more scientific, so we did a survey. What we found out is that there was no difference. Which literally meant if we charged $90 or 80 or $20, we’re going to get the same volume of purchases, which is crazy
[00:03:36] so we raised the price from $20 perpetual to an annual fee of $90. So I think that’s the first time I did a survey which had a dramatic impact on the business. And it’s amazing because it shows you the power of, what survey can do for you, for your business
[00:03:56] Eytan Buchman: So let’s take a sharp left turn here and dive back into marketing. During his experience in B2B marketing, Ramel flagged events and content as his core channels. I think together, they create a really nice frame for why surveys are so important.
[00:04:10] Ramel (Surveyz): The truth is not everyone is online, not everyone is reachable. And when you go to those trade events, you meet people that you’re unable to meet in any other way, and you can do it in volume. I would come out of those events with two things. One, we would be in the top two, three companies in terms of lead volume. And when we get back to the office, we were able to get to the point where leads from events were a about 30% of our funnel.
[00:04:38] Eytan Buchman: The secret is event success started at just going to the right events.
[00:04:43] Ramel (Surveyz): You have to go to the right events, which means events that most of the people who are walking down the aisle could be potential leads. If you go to a generic event and one out of 10 is relevant, it’s not going to work.
[00:04:54] Eytan Buchman: If you see where I’m going with this, congratulations, take a cookie. Ramel just talked about targeting about getting to the right audience in the right place. But even if you’re standing in front of them, in order to really pull them in, you need to drive major value. And that’s where his second core marketing skillset comes in.
[00:05:10] Ramel (Surveyz): The second thing is content marketing. It got to the point that when they came into a new company I literally built everything in the department around content. So at the core of the department, you have the content people and everything else is around it, whether it’s PR , AR lead generation, everything that we do is around the content activities.
[00:05:35] Eytan Buchman: Now before we go any further, content marketing has taken on a life of its own. So I did want to push Ramel on what content marketing actually means for him. A blog post, a long form ebook. You know breaking it down and defining it
[00:05:46] Ramel (Surveyz): the person who actually coined the term content marketing was bill gates. He wrote an article in 1996, I think on it now and Microsoft blog. And he said, in terms of revenue, the next revolution after the radio revolution and the TV revolution is going to come from content online.
[00:06:04] So content marketing to me, it’s creating high quality content that is not around your brand. It’s not telling our story. for me, content marketing is creating content that is actually useful.
[00:06:17] There’s a great organization called the Content Marketing Institute and they have this annual conference around content and then I heard in this conference from Ann Handley that if you want to create content, that really stands out, that really engages and inspires people the content has to be unique, useful, and enjoyable. She actually put multiplication signs between those words, between the unique, useful, and enjoyable. If one of those parameters is zero everything collapses, everything falls apart. So let’s say, you’re listening to a podcast and it’s unique, it’s actually useful but the guy who’s speaking, you can’t listen to him. He’s just boring to death so you won’t listen to it.
[00:07:02] Eytan Buchman: Remember that ox I mentioned in the beginning? Well, it’s actually relevant here. Ramel’s idea for content started with tapping the people who really get it, the experts, to create the expertise for him here’s how it works in practice.
[00:07:16] Ramel (Surveyz): CloudEndure had a solution for migration and disaster recovery into the cloud. We wanted to create a piece of content where people would give tips for AWS around migration and disaster recovery, security and optimization and costs and everything you can possibly think of.
[00:07:34] We did a competition where we told people, submit your best tip for AWS in one of like 10 categories. We recruited a panel of industry leaders that would choose what tip would be the best and we gave away a Ferrari. Okay, it was a rental, but it was a rental for a day. Plus a ticket to to attend the AWS annual conference. We got close to a thousand submissions of tips.
[00:08:00] We ended up with close to a hundred really good tips. Not only did we get good content, not only did we create good buzz, it was a good win in terms of, our ongoing win content efforts to bring traffic and leads and MQL and so on.
[00:08:15] Eytan Buchman: So after doing this enough times, in-house, Ramel realized that this is something that companies really need. A lot. But surprisingly they’re not particularly good at doing it by themselves
[00:08:26] Ramel (Surveyz): Today I’m head of a Global Surveyz, which is a company that helps companies create content marketing around surveys. So we create survey reports for them and all of the content around it, whether it’s a video infographics and designed eBooks and blog content and articles and press releases and so on.
[00:08:46] It’s a bit of a challenge to find content that is unique and useful and enjoyable. But the one thing that I learned over the years is that surveys always managed to strike each one of these parameters.
[00:08:59] They’re always unique. You’re always able to find an angle. They’re useful. It’s packed with charts. Hey, you can actually compare where you are as a user to other companies, benchmark yourself and learn, where do you need to be? Where do you want to go? And it’s enjoyable. Look at, a typical survey if it’s done right. It’s it’s eye candy. You have charts, it’s colorful. Typically a survey report it would be something like 20 to 30 pages. You can actually read that in less than 10 minutes and get so many insights if it’s built correctly.
[00:09:32] Eytan Buchman: Another really nice thing about these surveys is that they’re incredibly multi-dimensional. They don’t only work at one particular place in the funnel.
[00:09:40] Ramel (Surveyz): some content is aimed specifically top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, bottom of the funnel. I think that a survey report has an impact across the entire funnel. If you were asking one question, it would probably be relevant for one stage of the funnel, but because you’re asking about challenges and budgets and plans and triggers, there’s always a question that is relevant to every single stage in your funnel.
[00:10:02] Eytan Buchman: So if Ramel did his job, right? You’re thinking, of course, everybody needs a survey. But why aren’t they running them themselves?
[00:10:10] Ramel (Surveyz): Most of the companies are running into three challenges when they need to create a survey. So the biggest challenge is it’s a big project. From the day, we run and start working on it, it takes about six weeks until you have the PDF . It’s very resource intensive and most companies do not have the bandwidth to do it.
[00:10:32] The second problem is is the collection of responses. I Mentioned that the story of CloudEndure where we collected a responses online. Now we gave an amazing prize. All we had to do is put a organic post on social media, we sent it to our house list, we literally got hundreds of responses within, two weeks. Today, there’s so much noise on social media. If you would put a post on an organic, you’d be lucky if you’d get, handful of responses. Most companies are unable to get the volume of responses that you need for a survey. You typically need a minimum of a hundred responses and you want to get somewhere between 200 to 500 for a B2B survey.
[00:11:14] The third challenge is there is a lot of know-how in how to build a survey. You see a lot of companies who are rushing to create a survey. They’re collecting responses from the CEO, from product from marketing, and they have a lot of great questions. And when you get results, there’s no story. When I work on a survey, I’d like to start at the end . I’d like to ask, what story are we hoping to be able to tell the world?
[00:11:39] I tell my customers, come back with five different angles of stories you hope the survey would unveil. And only then we go backwards reverse engineered those stories and understand, who do we need to survey to get those responses? What questions do we need to ask them? How do we do the analysis and how do we present the results? So you have to start at the end.
[00:11:59] Eytan Buchman: Knowing the story that you’re trying to build up to is super important, but so is targeting and here’s where Ramel has another awesome track.
[00:12:09] Ramel (Surveyz): one more tip, when you work with a research panel to get responses for a survey, some of them just want to rush over and get paid as quickly as possible to answer all the questions. And that means low quality. So you have to put different checks and balances into the survey to literally trick the people who are not focused, catch them and kick them out of the survey.
[00:12:35] So for example, you would give people list of technologies. And for each one of those, please tell me if it’s something you’re using planning on using, already testing or have no plans, or you don’t know what it is. And one of those technologies, it’s a fake technology. Anyone to see that they actually say, I don’t know. Sometimes it would be 20 to 30% of the people who failed that question. Now, if you’re not aware of it that means you’re getting 30% of the responses, which are literally garbage.
[00:13:07] Eytan Buchman: Once you have this working as a machine, you can literally create a data flywheel the people that responded to your previous surveys, download your content, then you can survey them again. But how do you get started?
[00:13:17] Ramel (Surveyz): So in most of our surveys, we work with a research panel, companies whose business is owning databases of people who are willing to answer a survey in return for an incentive. The incentive they typically give is worth between, I’d say 20 to $30. It really depends on the targeting. When we work with a research panel, they handle the incentives. In some cases, the customer wants to leverage their own database but then when you sent it to your own database, you want to give them some sort of incentive, it’s an appreciation of the time that they’re spending on the survey. So it could be, from giving them a small gift card for maybe your next coffee in Starbucks. Another option is to do a raffle, so you can give something like, a very expensive noise canceling headphones from Bose or something that is super attractive
[00:14:06] Eytan Buchman: So personally I’ve usedTypeForm for thisbut Ramel’s a pro so you should probably listen to him for software recommendations.
[00:14:13] Ramel (Surveyz): We use Survey Monkey. It’s a great platform of course we need are super expensive professional tier, which costs like I don’t know, $3,000 a year. It’s great for collection and the UI for response collection is pretty good and you have basic analysis tools, which is good enough for, I’d say 80% of the cases. In some cases where we need something more sophisticated, we go to SPSS which gives you more freedom to do a little bit more in terms of statistical analysis. But again, in most cases I highly recommend Survey Monkey.
[00:14:47] Eytan Buchman: All right, you got your survey. Let’s talk about getting it out there before we get to channels and distribution. Ramelle had two pretty cool tricks I thought were worth sharing on how to improve your standard content landing page.
[00:14:59] Ramel (Surveyz): It’s great that you have an amazing survey. . But if your landing page is not amazing, if all your efforts are going to go in vain. You have to build an amazing landing page. And I want to share two tips relevant to almost any gated content. So the first tip I want to share is something I really stumbled on upon, by mistake.
[00:15:21] I came across interesting content on HubSpot and surprisingly there was no form on the page, there was only a button that said download now and I clicked on it. And the report just downloaded. I wasn’t asked for any information. Now, to be honest, I’m not sure if it was because I was logged into HubSpot or because it just, gave it away for free. I realized this is exactly foot in the door. If you come to a landing page and there’s no form, there’s only a button says, download now there’s less friction to download the report and then we pop up the form. . So it’s a bit of a dirty trick. The visitor already made the decision that he wants, this piece of content and then there was a higher chance that he would actually feel the details on the form and download the gated content.
[00:16:10] So the second tip is more specific to survey report. Again, it’s also true for many gated content, but it really shines when it comes to a survey report. I went to Amazon, I wanted to buy a book and I saw that they have this small icon above the book that says, look inside. You can actually, flip through the book and see what is, what it is that you buy before you add it to your basket before you buy it. And since that day all the landing pages, we always added a sneak preview and gave the best three pages from whatever content we had, we just gave them so you can read all the information and again, multiple AB testing, dramatic uplift.
[00:16:52] Eytan Buchman: All right. Survey check, landing, page, check. Let’s talk about blasting that survey out into the stratosphere.
[00:16:58] Ramel (Surveyz): First of all, the media loves it. It is super easy to get covered around, the key findings of the story. It’s very easy to do campaigns around it, it’s a super visual asset. There is so many charts, every single chart can be a post in social media with a call to action, download the full report. A report is good when you work with analysts. You want to speak with your analysts at least every six months. Now think about this from the perspective of the analysts this is a super boring call. But what I saw is that from the day that we showed them our reports in the call based on charts and data from the market, the conversation.
[00:17:41] Is a totally different conversation. There were suddenly excited about it. They would say, Hey, can you send me the report? They would actually share the report. We actually got to the point where we got coverage for our own report within a Forrester report, which is pretty amazing.
[00:17:56] HubSpot coined the term content cluster, and they said, if you want to become a domain expert in certain field, you have to create a lot of content around that. The same thing goes with the survey report. You have a really niche survey report. Now start creating a lot of content around it. Podcasts, webinars, articles, blog posts, and the beauty is that all those additional contents, were super easy to create because we have it. It’s literally lifting copy from the survey and they call it the action is one to full report.
[00:18:30] Eytan Buchman: I tend to try to use my own generated data because it feels more exclusive. But what Ramel’s love for survey has working for it is that it borrows expertise from his target market and sells it back to them, driving company credibility. It’s a brilliant way to engage and build your name. And it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
[00:18:47] Besides to Palm Pilot, which it seems is now all gifted out. At least they still have oxes. For examples of some of Ramel’s work, the video about the ox, a few other examples of data-driven surveys and more head over to the shownotes at buchman.co.il/survey. Until then my name is Eytan Buchman. You’ve been surveying out this episode of Marketers in Capes, and now I’m wondering if my website even loads on a Palm pilot. Or an ox.