“It’s not just who you know – it’s WHAT you know about them.”
Online customer research can make a big difference to your business.
If you can find out who your ‘customers’ are, what they look like and how they make their buying decisions, then you can tailor your products, service, sales methods and marketing messages to hit home every time.
Surveys are an efficient and cost effective way of collecting customer data.
Online surveys in particular enable you to engage with a large percentage of your database at low cost.
Online surveys can be made quick and easy for your recipients to complete, encouraging response.
Analysis of customer data collected online is more efficient than that of traditional surveys as there is no need to rekey or capture the hard copy responses.
And with some survey tools – such as dotMailer’s Survey Builder – the data you capture can be automatically matched and appended to your existing database records.
Customer ‘touch points’
Your first step is to map key ‘touch points’ where your customers come into contact with your organisation online, such us outbound email (including billing), and website visits including online transactions on online shopping sites using ecommerce solutions, login pages, blogs and customer forums.
Each of these touch point is a potential opportunity for you to invite your customers and prospects to take part in your online survey.
Top Tip – If necessary, create new, key touch points for collecting data.
For example, set up an auto-response ‘thank you’ email following signup to your newsletter or registration and include a link to your survey.
Maximise your response rates
It can be important to incentivise respondents to complete your survey.
Incentives will ensure you getter a higher response rate and a more meaningful sample.
These can range from business incentives to personal incentives and from entry to a prize draw, through to discount vouchers, free gifts or special privileges. However, this can be expensive and some times just the offer of sharing your results with participants can be incentive enough.
People like to know that their opinion matters.
Telling your recipients how their feedback will influence, for example, the products or services you offer will help to increase your response rates.
Test which incentives work best with your audience (or ask them in a test survey!)
Top tip – if you are running a prize draw be sure to stay on the right side of sales promotion law.
If in doubt, make sure you state that there is ‘no purchase necessary’ and link to a set of prize draw rules.
Full Survey, mini surveys and polls
Collecting customer data online doesn’t have to mean creating and distributing a multiple question survey.
You may find that your audience responds better to mini surveys of just 2 or 3 questions, or even a series single question surveys or polls, asked over a period of time, included for example in your monthly newsletter.
Test which approach works best for your audience.
What do you want to know?
Generally for business customers, you should be asking about the size of their businesses, which sectors they’re in, and who makes the decision to buy your product or service.
If you’re targeting individual consumers, you should be researching their gender, age, occupation, income, lifestyle, and attitudes.
And crucially you’ll need to find out how they rate your products, your prices, your service and your competitors.
To improve your email marketing metrics, your aim should be to collect customer data that is highly relevant to your business model and your current objectives, and will allow you to understand who, how and why your customers purchase/engage.
Key areas to cover in your survey include:
- Customer profile – what do they look like (these are the ‘demographics’*)
- Attitudes and preferences – what do they like and dislike, what’s missing, what do they want more of
- Behaviour – influencers (where to place your advertising)
- Competitors – who are they and how do they rate them
Top tips for framing your questions
1. Keep your survey focussed – make sure it has a clear structure and is completable in less than 5 mins, ideally
2. Use closed questions* to aid analysis and year on year trend comparison
Use open questions** sparingly, to collect deeper customer intelligence
3. Don’t ask what you do badly – better to ask recipients to rank attributes from 1-5 for satisfaction
4. In B2C surveys – ask for demographics at the end of the survey, to avoid scaring respondents off
5. Test your survey with a sample customer panel before you roll it out
Analysing and taking action
Rule 1.Make sure you use a survey tool that can automatically append the data you collect online, to your existing email contacts.
Rule 2. Use the data you have collected and your newly ‘enriched’ customer profiles to build answers to key questions that will help you achieve better metrics in your email marketing (and in your sales and marketing in general).
Look to find out:
- Where your best sell and upsell opportunities may lie – what do your best customers look like? Once you know this you can find and target ‘look-alikes’
- What are the buttons to push for your different customer segments – know what makes them tick and you can personalise your emails and use dynamic content to send highly targeted messages and offers that drive up your response rates
- What your best competitive stance is – what do you customers see that makes you different/preferable to your competitors
- What you customers’ contact preferences are – how often do they want you to email them, and with what content.
Send them what they want, when they want it and your response rates will go up
Top tip – Reputable data enrichment companies can help you plug any holes in the demographic data you hold for your contacts, by matching your records with those they already hold and appending new demographics to your records.
dotMailer is about to launch a brand new survey solution called dotSurvey.
dotSurvey is a super flexible – super cool survey tool, which like dotMailer uses our EasyEditor model, making it so easy to drag & drop your survey together. Then style and brand using CopyKat, so your survey matches your brand exactly, without a designer or any html skills!
Find out more
To find out more about how dotMailer can help you quickly and easily build, send and append customer surveys and valuable contact data, call us now on 020 8662 2762.
*Demographics for business contacts will include location, industry category, num of employees, turnover, job title, job function. Demographics for consumer contacts including location, gender, marital status, age, occupation, income.
** A closed question will provide your contacts with a choice of answers from which they may choose one or multiple responses. Typically, closed questions in an online survey will feature radio buttons, drop downs or tick boxes. An open question will invite your recipients to provide their own answer, using a free text field.