From the September 1999 issue of Startups

Want to get a handle on what makes Internet surfers stop at your Web site and buy your product or service? Instead of just assuming lively graphics and clever copy are reasons enough, you might actually try asking your visitors. In the process, you'll gain valuable insight to help you better target your market and achieve greater success.

If you're already calculating the high costs of most traditional customer surveys and thinking "no way," think again. NetReflector's InstantSurvey allows you to create your own inexpensive customer survey, and it further minimizes costs by using the Net as its chief tool for contacting customers and conducting market research. NetReflector's InstantSurvey is an online tool to help small-business owners get the feedback they need. For you marketing veterans, think of it as an online focus group.

Survey setup requires little technical know-how, and the cost of a completed survey can be as low as $40. For example, go to NetReflector's main menu, which breaks down the entire survey process into three logical sections. Here you'll find short tutorials on questionnaire creation and distribution, as well as survey management. With questionnaire creation, you have the option of creating your own survey questions from scratch, importing them from a word processor or customizing an InstantSurvey template. You can then distribute the questionnaire using InstantSurvey's e-mail engine or your own e-mail system, or by linking it to a Web site. InstantSurvey also allows you to easily monitor the status of your surveys, send reminders to people who haven't yet responded, and access the detailed reports it generates as well as the raw data.

Throughout the process, online wizards walk you through the different processes of creating and running a survey through various questions and simple steps. Or you can e-mail support@netreflector to arrange a telephone tutorial.

Still sound too good to be true? Consider, too, that there's nothing to lose: NetReflector's Web site (http://www.instantsurvey.com) offers a free trial survey of up to 25 people.

Julia Miller is a Los Angeles business writer specializing in sales and marketing.