Using Customer Feedback Surveys, Part 1

Collecting customer feedback can provide you with invaluable insight into the customer process. These are insights that you can assume or guess out on your own, and can go a long way toward shaping your business in a way that sets it up to be more successful in the future.

Unfortunately, information on how to gather feedback so that it is accurate, unbiased, and actionable, that is, leading to actual tangible steps you can take to improve, is sparse. Many who go the DIY route with their customer satisfaction surveys fall into common pitfalls of question writing and end up with data that doesn’t do them a lot of good.

Tip #1) Know what you want to know Seriously, before you start writing your customer feedback survey, narrow down what exactly it is you hope to come out more knowledgeable about.

For example, it’s not super helpful to gauge overall “satisfaction.”

Instead, think of a specific question like “What is stopping customers who have items in their cart but don’t proceed to checkout?” or “How can I improve my support options to make customers happier?” Having a guiding topic like this will help you make sure you have a consistent purpose through your questions.

Tip #2) Share where your customers are Sometimes, sharing a survey with your customers or trying to reach them in the wrong place can make it difficult to get a high response rate. For example, you could email your survey out to those on your customer email list, but what if you embedded the survey right on your website, on crucial pages, as well? Or if you have a physical store, maybe you setup an ipad with a survey to catch people as they leave the store instead. Try to get creative and reach your customers where they are actually most likely to actually be and respond.

Tip #3) Keep your brand voice in mind Remember, when you’re asking your customers to give you their feedback, your survey acts as a branch of communication for your brand. If the language or phrasing or tone of your survey seem to deviate too extremely from your brand tone of voice, it could come off as odd. Worse yet, customers could assume that you care so little about their feedback that you’ve hired someone externally to do your satisfaction research. Remember, that survey itself is a brand touchpoint, so treat it as such!

Tip #4) Avoid words and phrases that could push responses toward a certain bias Too often, surveys word their questions in a way that leads respondents toward offering up a certain opinion. While it’s nice to hear that you’re doing well or that customers love a certain feature, it’s better to make sure that your feedback is genuine and honest. Avoid framing questions in any way that hints at something being good or bad before you ask the respondent for an opinion of it.

In part two, we’ll take a look at some more advanced techniques for guaranteeing your surveys yield actionable results.

Facebook And Google Are Not Your Only Advertising Options

Marketers, we need to have a talk. For the past few years, the cost per click of Google Adwords, and now Facebook’s newsfeed ads and promoted posts, have been climbing. It makes sense that as platforms have become more and more known to marketers and the public in general, more people have tried to take advantage of them, and they’re become more competitive. For some markets, certain keywords and audience targeting may still be viable on these networks, but many small businesses and entrepreneurs will find themselves boxed out of these networks by costs of per click sometimes into the double digit dollars. Ouch.

Instead, here are a few networks that are off the beaten path but can offer a great ROI for those willing to take the time to explore them.

Bing: Bing has been laughed off as a search engine in lieu of Google’s massive marketshare when it comes to search traffic. That said, their ad product can actually offer a decent volume of traffic at a fraction of the cost. This is partly because they’ve partnered up with other smaller search engines (like Yahoo), and ads run through the Bing ad manager will also show up on those networks. In general, you can secure the same keywords for less by using Bing if Adwords is pricing you out.

Plus, their support is excellent, especially when compared with the sped of Google’s, and livechat means you can always get clarity on ad performance, no matter where you are in the world or what time it is.

Reddit: Reddit is an odd duck. Many people have been scared off from using this platform because they’ve offended a deeply defensive community. Reddit avoids promotion as much as possible, and people catch on quick when it becomes apparent that someone is posting their specialty forum or ‘subreddit’ with the express intention of promoting their brand or hawking a product. That said, reddit gives marketers the ability to pay for a link to remain at the top of a subreddit for as much time as you’re willing to pay for – and lucky for marketers that value is grossly underestimated right now, meaning you can get impressions and clicks dirt cheap. We’re talking advertisements that get 15,000 impressions for $10. If you’re writing effective ads that get even a few clicks, you’re already getting a lower cost per click than just about any platform available for mainstream marketing.

Other honorable mentions include things like Stumbleupon, where promoted content can go viral for no additional cost, and retargeting using the Bing display ad network. These are far from your only choices, but they’re a good starting point to get the wheels turning about how you might be able to leverage networks outside of the ones that grace headlines every other day. Of course, the same principles apply when keeping careful track of your ROI and split testing your ad creative to make sure you’re getting the best return possible.

3 Ways To Make Your Brand More Important Than Your Sale

When it comes to marketing in the online world, it’s easy to get caught up in the sale. After all, we run our businesses to make money, right?

But that’s just the thing: Too many of us don’t really run businesses at all. Instead, we run sales machines, with the sole purpose of optimized conversion rates, email open rates, click-through rates, and the list goes on. While that’s all part of the process, it’s not everything. And what it certainly is not is sustainable in the long-term.

The markets we exist in will always change, so it’s important to be preparing yourself and your company as a brand that can shift with the market and continue to be sustainable even if the exact products or services you sell need to change. Here are a few ways to work on making sure that happens.

1) Be the one giving more, always

People establish brand loyalty through a number of interactions and factors, but many of them (if not all) can be aggregated into one overall measure: how much value you gave them. In general, you can always be the one giving more and still end up making more money in the end. This will help to endear people to your brand.

For example, a few years ago, everyone and their mother was attacking the affiliate marketing with techniques that might not have been sustainable. The ones who didn’t always shout me me me were probably able to make a fairly smooth transition to a new product. Those who failed to build real trust and value, however, probably started over at ground zero.

2) Have a brand!

Okay, admittedly, this should have been number one, but too many people focused on a web of microsites, etc. don’t have an actual central brand that they can move with over time – they have a number of independent sales machines, and that’s it.

If you find yourself in this position, start making a plan to ensure you actually are able to transition into having a brand that you can grow with throughout your career. If you don’t have a separate site for yourself or your company, don’t have a logo, etc., it might be time to think about these things.

3) Build more than a list.

Not long ago, just the fact that you were building an email list meant that you were ahead of the general online marketing crowd. Now, however, you’ve got to go even further to standout. Email open rates have been steadily declining, and while the platform is far from useless, it makes sense to be building a larger, more interactive community. Social media is certainly a place to pull this off, especially if you’re confident in your ability to pull off consistent, engaging content (or at least curate it).

It may be that some of these are more applicable than others when it comes to your own business, but it’s also probably likely that all 3 can be applied for just about anyone. Keep this in mind when you evaluate how you’re going to take your personal brand forward!

4 Ways To Actually Get Ahead Of The Other Guys In The Social Arena

Social media is a cliche these days. People know they need to “be on it” and they know they need to “get serious about it”, but when push comes to shove very few people are giving their channels proper attention. It makes sense, too, results are generally slower on social but they come with the added earned bonus of often building more loyal customers.

Additionally, customers simply expect more of the brands and people that they choose to do business with these days, and communicating in a personal manner is part of that expectation. So, besides just “being there,” here are a few tried and true tips for social growth from the guys and gals at the top.

1) Keep your social making sense for each platform

Make sure that the social you put out isn’t lazy. Specifically, don’t use the autoshare feature to other platforms just because it exists. If it looks like you don’t care about creating anything actually interesting on your Facebook page because every single post is an automatic copy of a post from Instagram, it makes the value of being on Facebook pretty negligible: If it’s clear you don’t care about your page, why should other people care to interact with it, let alone click through on your more promotional posts?

2) Try out a new platform at every opportunity

Yeah, a lot of platforms flop, but do you know how well the first few people who started doing really well on Instagram did? Or the first 10 people to start ‘funny meme’ type pages on Facebook? Early adopters have the chance to make an absolute killing on social, so it’s worth spending a couple of weeks or even months trying out new things as they come along. If something becomes the next Twitter or Snapchat after you laughed it off a year ago, you’re not going to be happy with yourself.

3) Reply to everything

People love feeling appreciated, so make sure you take advantage of this psychological trigger in your social interactions. If someone has opted to tweet at you, or send you a message somewhere, they’ve basically opened the door for you to have a free interaction with them and start building a rapport – take advantage of it!

Plus, you never know whose eye you’ve caught and what opportunities might arise from taking the time to get back to them. That alone makes it worth taking the chance – if a big shot caught something of yours, paying attention to them for 10 seconds might just land you a huge opportunity.

4) Have a better schedule than the next guy

Of course, you can’t go wrong with being better organized than the guys and gals you’re competing against. Seriously, too many people “wing it” in social. Instead, try to source content for 3-7 days out. When you release original content, use a tool like CoScheduler to have it shared every week or two for the next several months.