One of the things we’ve talked about on this blog is the marketing power of your website. A well designed site is like a marketing department that is working for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It provides so much more than just your business’ name, address, hours, and phone number; it is a direct line into your business itself.
Every word that a visitor reads is a word that brings them closer to making a purchase decision. A properly worded website can take a visitor from being a “window shopper” to ready to buy before they even reach out to contact you personally.
But, there are other ways to harness the power and benefits that your website can provide. Communication is a two-way street. If you’re not taking information in about your business, then you’re essentially flying blind. How can you know what your customers, visitors, readers, and prospective clients want if you don’t ask them?
There are a number of ways of soliciting this feedback. In many cases, it is how you ask for it, or the avenues that you make available to collect it, that determine the success of your engagement strategy.
One of the first and most basic is the survey. Sometimes, the easiest way to get feedback on a particular topic is to simply ask for it. Develop questionnaires for your customers. Develop questionnaires for customers that bought from you one time and didn’t return. Develop questionnaires for your website visitors.
Response rates to surveys are generally low and the lower the number of questions you ask, the higher the likelihood of getting a response. People are busy and their time is limited. And, by answering your survey, you are asking them, frankly, for a donation. You are asking them to donate their valuable time in order to help you make your business better.
Second, solicit feedback via your social media channels. There are a number of ways to use social, particularly Facebook, to engage customers. Twitter has its uses but its character restrictions limit its actual usefulness for valuable survey feedback. Instead, use Twitter to send out links to your online surveys or a contact page within your own website. Google+ actually implemented surveys in their status updates recently, however, its limited use in the social market limits its overall usefulness to you. Facebook has broad reach and a number of engagement channels available. If you’re going to target social for customer feedback, start with Facebook.
Like anything else, if you don’t ask for feedback, you won’t get it. However, when you do ask, you’d be amazed at how open people can become. Some of what you’ll be told will have value and some, honestly, will not. But, in the end, you’ll have a view into the thoughts of your customers that you did not have just a few minutes ago.
Try a survey or a blog question on your next update and start a dialogue with your customers. The end result might really surprise you.