The Often-Overlooked Survey

When the online marketplace really started taking off, companies were convinced online selling was a viable option. It soon became abundantly clear statistics and data must be an integral part of selling requirements. Voilà! Web site analytics was born. Marketers were immediately bombarded with great solutions offering all kinds of data: page views, entry and exit points, and purchases.

Over the years, we’ve seen clickstream analysis isn’t nearly enough. It’s not as actionable as we’d initially thought. Oh sure, you get a pile of statistics. But are you better serving customers in the long run? It’s not sufficient anymore to have mere numbers. You need a deeper understanding of your customers and their behaviors throughout all your online channels.

The best, and by far least-utilized, tool to accomplish this is the survey. Surprisingly few online entities use this easy-to-implement, powerful tool. If you just look at the tremendous response rates of well-designed and well-delivered surveys, it doesn’t make sense not to use them. In some cases, we’ve seen up to 30 percent survey fill rates, demonstrating that at the right time, and under certain circumstances, users are more than willing to respond to surveys.

To use surveys to your best advantage, a few tips:

  • Have clear objectives. Focus is critical. We recommend surveys either increase conversion rates or develop better customer understanding. Conversion rate optimization can be accomplished by determining abandon reasons for each key Web page. For customer understanding, surveys are an outstanding means of building customer profiles by asking pertinent questions related to demographics, behavior, and so on. You’ll begin to fully understand your customers and their segments.

  • Survey at the right time. Only serve surveys when they make sense for the customer. There are instances when you can maximize the survey: when people abandon online applications/shopping carts; just after they received your product or service; and in exchange for a valuable offer.
  • Use pop-ups and email. Pop-ups can be tremendously efficient when used to serve surveys that help the customer in some fashion,. We’ve seen double-digit filling rates for pop-up-delivered surveys. E-mail surveys are also appropriate, but only when sent at the right time, in response to a customer’s actions.
  • Shorten surveys. Make surveys short to increase response rate. Those willing to complete longer surveys may not be representative of customer segments. If you need additional information, follow up later with a longer survey. This increases chances the longer version is completed and is representative.
  • Emphasize customer value. Position surveys as a way for you to better serve your customers. Show customers it’s conducted for their benefit and to address their needs, not simply to improve your site.
  • Combine results with Web site analytics. Go beyond the insightful statistical information surveys provide. Combine individual responses with what you already know about a customer, such as shopping history, clickstream behavior, and email response rate. Then you have a powerful tool that helps you to fully understand online customers and serve them in a highly relevant manner.

Serving powerful, short surveys combined with Web site analytics tools provides the opportunity to dramatically improve customer understanding, customize the online experience, increase conversion rates, and boost the lifetime value of online customers.

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