The Times survey their subscribers. Digital only subscribers need not apply.

 by Martin Belam, 19 January 2013

The Times is surveying subscribers in order to “improve the products and services we offer to our customers”. They’ve designed the survey in a way that excludes digital customers.

“As a valued subscriber, your opinions are very important to us.”

So said the marketing survey email I got at the weekend from the Times and the Sunday Times. I’ve been a digital subscriber since the website went behind the paywall.

The first question in the survey?

“Firstly before you subscribed; on average, which days of the week would you buy The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers from your local retailer? (Please take into account going on holiday)”

There are seven options: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

It is a compulsory question, with no “none” answer.

I never used to buy the paper in print, I’ve only ever subscribed digitally. I can’t answer the question. I can’t reach the rest of the survey.

That doesn’t make me feel like their marketing department value their digital only subscribers. It makes me feel that they can’t believe their digital product range would ever attract people who hadn’t previously purchased the paper.

The flawed Times survey

UPDATED 23/1/2013: A spokesperson for the Times contacted me about this post, and said:

“The first question should have ‘never’ as an option but didn’t. Fortunately the majority of subscribers who completed the survey did buy a paper at some stage and we have had over 29k responses, of which about 39% were digital subscribers. We will discount the question in case it is skewed. Despite that, the survey has yielded us useful feedback from our users”


Why do you even care?

In fact why do you even subscribe? There is nothing they report that isn't on Twitter or the wider Internet and their editorial is the word of you know who...

Sounds like it's an old survey that they send out every now and then and never thought to revise! [via Twitter]

And how does one "take into account going on holiday"?! You'd need to take a lot of holiday for it to affect your average newspaper purchases!

"Fortunately the majority of subscribers who completed the survey did buy a paper at some stage"

That implies that there was a way to complete the survey without being a print buyer, otherwise it wasn't a "majority of subscribers who completed the survey", but all of them.

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