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How Brainly Powers Viral Marketing with Customer Feedback

A leading learning platform with extensive Knowledge Base for all subjects and grades
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You won’t know what your customers think unless you ask.

To make smart business decisions, you need customer feedback. But sometimes, staying in touch with your user base is easier said than done.

For companies with huge international audiences, the process of gathering, sharing, and analyzing feedback needs to be a well-oiled machine ready to operate on a massive scale. When you have millions of customers and opinions to account for, you need larger sample sizes.

At the same time, enterprise-level survey solutions are often a hassle to implement. And that doesn’t help small marketing teams that want to capture opinions about current events.

Those factors led Brainly, the global online learning platform, to turn to Survicate. Our tool lets them set up a multi-team surveying process. The customer data helps every department make more data-driven decisions and learn their audience’s current thoughts and insights.

We talked to Noah Berg, the Outreach Manager at Brainly, about how Survicate surveys help power his company’s marketing strategy. Noah told us:

  • Why Brainly chose Survicate
  • How Survicate helps Brainly create viral content (that doubled their blog traffic)
  • How recurring surveys help them stay on top of user needs

If you’re looking for inspiration on how surveys can power your marketing – read on!

Why Brainly turned to customer feedback surveys 

Brainly is the largest online knowledge-sharing community of over 300 million students, parents, and experts. The company has users in over 35 countries, and with the funding of $150M, it’s an indisputable market leader.

+300 million

Brainly’s staff knew that with a user base that large, they needed to capture feedback efficiently to keep up with their audiences’ needs. The sheer number of visitors going through their page every day made numerical user behavior data insufficient. Brainly needed to know the “why” behind the visitors’ actions to improve their platform, tailor the message to the users, and define their personas.

In the beginning, Brainly looked for a survey software that would let them ask focus groups about new product features. All product improvements at the company are heavily based on the users’ opinions, so collecting their feedback at scale was necessary to grow.

Survicate struck a perfect balance between ease of use and advanced features. The product team at Brainly appreciated the targeted website surveys that made it easier to segment the vast user base.

Soon, other departments realized that they could also use the power of customer feedback. And thanks to the unlimited seats and workspaces that let different teams share the same Survicate account, they quickly got on board.

Survicate: Unlimited users, speed, and reliability 

Brainly has been with Survicate since 2015. They have run over 800 surveys and gathered almost two million responses – with an average of a total of 25 790 responses every month. 

Currently, ten people at Brainly regularly set up their surveys (with more people being able to access the data). Here are their most common use cases:

  • The product team uses Survicate to learn more about the motivations behind user behavior, collect feedback on new changes and gather product ideas
  • The marketing team runs Net Promoter Score surveys to measure the loyalty of different customer segments and identify product issues
  • The communications team uses surveys to gather data for content used in their PR and marketing campaigns. They also run a recurring “Brainly value” survey to stay on top of their users' opinions and impressions.
The [Survicate] workflow is great for a multi-user system. Plus, having dedicated workspaces allows us to run multiple surveys in parallel in different markets. It makes the coordination of the surveys easier, so we get our insights quicker.
Noah Berg
Outreach Manager, Brainly

But there are more reasons why Brainly has stuck with Survicate for so long than just unlimited users and flexibility.

For Noah’s team, speed is of the essence. They want to capture their audience’s opinion on current events to prepare viral case studies and reports. At the same time, they want to reach as many respondents as possible. And Survicate lets Noah’s team launch website surveys fast and exactly where they want them – without the help of software developers or a dedicated research team.

Other than that, Survicate proved to be reliable and trouble-free. As Noah said: 

"Every time I've tried to contact support, it's been very quick. There are no issues nor missing features that I can think of.”

So now that we know why Brainly uses Survicate let’s drill down into the “how.” In this case study, we’ll focus on the two initiatives run by the outreach team: viral content creation and “the value of Brainly” survey. 

Free-to-use NPS survey template

Doubling the blog traffic with feedback-fueled reports

Noah noticed the potential of using customer feedback in his content marketing efforts right as he joined Brainly. With the number of students visiting their site every day, missing their feedback would have been a waste:

“When I joined, we were using [Survicate] to take opportunities, like with current events (...), to get some data from students, who are our core user base. We could use it to write interesting research-based articles.”

Survey data has been a starting point for many in-depth reports and infographics on Brainly’s blog. That already guaranteed Brainly the status of industry thought leader and generated steady media buzz around their content.

But Noah quickly understood that their reports needed to become more high-level to go viral. And the more frequently they appear, the more value they bring. Therefore, the surveys needed to be easier to answer so that they could gather a maximum number of responses in a short amount of time.

Noah’s team has gone for concise, close-ended surveys. The feedback they provide lets them quickly report on the most pressing issues.

One of the best examples of such content is Brainly’s report on students’ anxiety about returning to school during the pandemic. In 2021, as schools started reopening in the USA, the topic was on everybody’s lips. The media was full of politicians’, experts’, and teachers’ opinions. Yet one crucial voice was largely missing: the students’. Noah told us:

“Parents and students were really nervous about [going back to school]. And we got very unique insights – the student angle on that (...). The student voice about current events is often tough to get, especially on a mass level. And we were able to get that feedback very quickly, which was really cool. I think that became a theme for that year. Fear was at a high, and education was a huge question mark(...). Journalists and our readers found that really interesting.”

Brainly presented their findings in a report. They decided to share all the survey questions and answers, which resulted in a quick-to-write yet knowledge-packed report.

An excerpt from Brainly’s back-to-school report

The report resulted in a boom in blog traffic that surprised the team. According to Noah, they got 1.8x the blog traffic they had expected. 

“We got plenty of reactions and conversations (...). That was certainly a big success that people remembered us talking about something important that matters to us.”

But how did Brainly manage to collect so many responses so quickly? It was all thanks to website surveys placed on the right pages.

Instead of limiting the respondents to users who were already signed up to Brainly, the outreach team launched website surveys on their most visited pages. The surveys fit naturally into the visitors' journeys and ensured a high response rate.

Feedback-based content helps Brainly create reports on current events relevant to their user base. This viral content fuels their PR and marketing efforts and creates media buzz around the brand. Survicate’s ease of use helps Noah’s team win the race with time.

Free-to-use content preferences survey template

Finding value proposition and gathering product feedback with “the value of Brainly” survey

Surveys are not just about catching the hottest topics for Brainly’s marketing teams. They also use them to gather feedback from their user base consistently.

As Noah told us, the online education landscape changes all the time. With lots of stakeholders and external factors influencing the niche, you have to keep the dialogue with your audience going to stay on top of their needs. It’s important to adjust buyer personas and value propositions constantly.

Recurring surveys help Brainly make sure their communication strategy is correct and give their audience exactly what they want.

Their biggest recurring survey, which Noah calls “the value of Brainly,” is run every six months and targets about 5.000 sample users (parents and students who are paying subscribers). It helps the marketing team see the subjective value of their products across several life stages of the customer base.

“The value of Brainly” survey starts with multiple-choice questions, such as:

  • What do you use Brainly for?
  • When do you use it?
  • What is Brainly best for?

For each question, there’s an “other” option available. The respondents can type their own answers. 

These questions are followed by a series of statements that the respondents have to agree or disagree with (on a 5-point scale ranging from “completely agree” to “completely disagree”).

Here are the examples:

  • Thanks to Brainly, I’m better prepared for school.
  • Brainly helps me get higher grades.
  • Brainly helps me finish my homework faster.

The last question is the open-ended “What is missing from Brainly?”. It lets the respondents freely voice their opinions and ideas.

The survey runs on Brainly’s website, and Noah uses targeting options to make it appear only to the desired audience segment.

The outreach team keeps the questions more or less the same in every survey iteration. It lets them effectively compare results over time.

The survey lets the outreach team:

  • Understand how different user segments (e.g., parents and students, users on a higher-tier plan, and non-paying users) compare to one another – to improve communication and get ideas for targeted marketing campaigns
  • Spot the most popular themes among all users to adjust the messaging on their website

As Noah told us:

“Doing homework is the most popular answer for ‘What do you use Brainly for?’ question. And that tells us we have to have a lot of keywords around ‘Homework help.’ It's our headline on our site. There are other things that kids can use us for, but people are sticking to the main use case, which is a good sign that our take on advertising is right. Some other answers, like ‘preparing for tests,’ ‘checking answers to questions,’ ‘learning more about subjects I'm interested in’ (...) are also popular, but not as much as the one that we put the most effort into.”

The recurring surveys also helped Noah’s team collect data points that become value propositions, selling points, or social proof for ad campaigns.

If we get something to brag about from the surveys, that's awesome. For example, we found out that 88% of parents agree that Brainly raised their kids' grades (...) We brought that to an all-hands internal meeting. We put that on some ads.
Noah Berg
Outreach Manager, Brainly

One more benefit comes from “the value of Brainly” survey: ideas for product improvements and new features. According to Noah, the respondents often leave their suggestions in the open-ended question text field. Then, the outreach team passes the insights to the product team.

Overall, “the value of Brainly” survey helps the marketing team connect with their audience and ensure their users get what they need.

Building a data-driven company with Survicate

As Noah told us, Survicate is the marketing team’s main data source.

With Brainly’s huge scale, quantitative data is not enough. To get to know their audience, they needed to know the “why” behind their actions and let them speak in their own voice. 

Survicate’s workspace organization and unlimited seats allowed them to overcome the challenge of running large-scale international surveys across different departments. At the same time, the ease of use still let them set up surveys quickly to gather insights about current events.

Brainly first used Survicate to look for product improvements. Still, it turned out the tool can fulfill all their customer feedback needs – measuring NPS, investigating the value of their product, and interviewing the audience for viral reports.

Survicate helped Brainly:

  • Stay in touch with their user base
  • Refine their value proposition, as well as the website and ad copy
  • Double their blog traffic and increase social media hits and mentions
  • Collect product improvement ideas

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