Smart business owners know that customers and non-customers can be a source of vital feedback on their products, branding, customer service, and more. Though your business’s Yelp page or social media replies can be a helpful source of feedback, customers rarely use those platforms to offer focused feedback on specific aspects of your company’s operations. That’s where surveys come in handy.
Talking directly to your customers or target market can be invaluable for your business. When designed and disseminated effectively, even the simplest surveys can add a lot of value and used in a number of ways.
If you haven’t started using surveys to speak to your customers, here’s why you should start:
Brand lift survey conducted on Facebook
1. Conduct low-cost market research
When starting your business, you may have conducted market research to see how well a product or service like yours would be received. The process of better understanding your target market never ends, though — and surveys are a great way to continue your efforts affordably.
This research may take many forms: You can build surveys that measure brand awareness (do people recognize your name?), test the popularity of a new product launch, or identify competitors to keep an eye on. You can also poll larger audiences compiled by survey platforms to help you identify target markets for future research. Figuring out what your target market needs are can be invaluable for future planning.
2. Get to know your current customers even better
Placing a survey form to your website or landing page is another good idea to try out. Not every customer you ask will fill out your survey, but even a 50-60% response rate will give you greater insight into who generally visits your site and makes purchases. Use this information to further understand your customers: What are their demographics? What needs, wants, or challenges drove them to you? How can you help them? Though you should always reach for new customers, taking care of those most loyal to your company is key in your business’s long-term success. Take this information into consideration when you are in product development or designing marketing strategies.
GetSiteControl survey form to collect product feedback
3. Measure customer satisfaction following a sale
As mentioned above, Yelp and other review sites are good places to view unfiltered, and occasionally unfocused, feedback. But if you want customer feedback to help you make strategic decisions, you’re better off designing a survey that prompts the kind of responses you’re looking for, good or bad. You can target your customers as soon as they make a sale, when your business is still fresh on their minds.
If you want to know how customers feel about navigating your checkout, or whether they’re able to easily contact support overnight, a short survey may reveal otherwise buried sentiments that a customer may not speak to on a public review website.
4. Crowdsource opinions to shape branding
If you’re internally deadlocked over a branding decision — a new logo, for example — why not let the people who may ultimately be swayed by your choice to have a voice?
Asking for input on branding, or any other major decision such as a future product, has two primary benefits: One, you get a better sense of what resonates with current and potential customers. And two, you give those respondents a personal stake in your branding. People love being asked for their opinion, and even if their selection isn’t chosen (but especially if it is), they’ll appreciate you asking them.
Gathering testimonials on a website
5. Gather testimonials and reviews to use as social proof
If you visit two sites and only one of them has social proof — prominently posted testimonials, reviews, and other positive feedback — you’ll immediately sense the difference. Seeing that other people have used and liked this product or service gives you the peace of mind that you should do the same.
Once again, a survey provides a structured way for you to pull feedback from customers addressing specific areas. If you want testimonials that speak to your outstanding product, or customer service, or expeditious shipping process, you can build your survey to reflect that. Take the best responses (with the respondents’ permission) and use them accordingly. Added bonus: You can also take these responses to investors.
6. Build out your content marketing with high-quality data
One of the best ways to boost your SEO ranking is to create content that other websites reference and link to. High-quality content also grabs the attention of potential customers. This is the basis of inbound marketing.
If you aren’t sure how to build out your content, consider using survey responses to create helpful data that speaks to larger trends in your industry. You can produce articles, infographics, and blog posts around how respondents feel about a wealth of topics: Confidence in the economy, willingness to spend money this holiday season, what drives them to buy online over in-store, and other questions more specific to your business. Sharing this information will help garner links and attention.
Collecting content ideas from your audience
7. Find out how your employees really feel
Surveys aren’t just for your customers. You can use surveys internally to measure employee engagement, happiness, and comfort, among other factors. There are lots of services that administer these surveys anonymously, so employees feel safe sharing their thoughts. You should then analyze the results in aggregate and identify trends, friction points, and areas that need improvement. The answer to increased productivity and lower turnover may be just under your nose — and all you had to do was ask.
Surveys are easy to design, easy to administer, low-cost, and can even be rewarding for those who answer them. Don’t be afraid to reach out and engage your customers and employees alike — their feedback is the first step in helping your business change for the better.
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.