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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

Are you Asking Customers “Why?” as well as “What?”

11 August 2011 by Guest

This is a guest blog by Dave Chaffey who is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights, the digital marketing advice site.  He is a  consultant, speaker and author of 5 acclaimed books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice.


In the recent UK Fast roundtable on customer service I recommended applying the exciting set of tools that are now available to help businesses better understand their web customers and so give them a better experience.

Web analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Omniture and Webtrends are now used by nearly every company since they provide such valuable quantitative data on site visitor behaviour. They allow us to easily answer questions like: Where do visitors enter the site? Which traffic sources are they referred from and how do they convert or exit?

But web analytics systems have a major blindspot. They don’t give direct qualitative feedback from site visitors and customers about how they find the experience or what motivates them. The growth in use of more qualitative feedback tools (which I have catalogued here) has been one of the major recent innovations in digital marketing for me. Here I’ll review the main categories and call out some of the most popular services.

First, we have the so-called “Voice of the Customer” tools. These provide a permanent facility on your site to provide feedback on every page. Some of the most common examples you see around the web are Kampyle and OpinionLab. The beauty of these tools is that they give specific feedback on individual pages, so indicating problems with product or stock information.

Site motivation/action tools are a related type of tools, best known through the 4Q survey, so called because it involves just 4 questions about visitor intent, whether the site visit was successful, satisfaction rating and informal free text feedback expanding on the response. Although these are implemented as an overlay followed by a pop-under the company says that responses average 5 to 6% and they give a great way of benchmarking site satisfaction levels. Many VoC tools now integrate with the analytics so you can identify the popularity of pages causing problems.

The next category, and for me the most exciting, are the crowdsourcing services such as Uservoice and Ideascale. If you’ve seen the Dell Ideastorm product feedback or the Stack Overflow ranked Q&A you’ll know that they are a great way of getting customers to recommend product or service innovations.

The final group are concept or design feedback tools. A lot of people have recommended and to me this year since they give rich focus-group style feedback, but at a much lower cost. They’re useful for influencing the HiPPOs (Highest Paid Persons’ Opinion)!

Of course you can still get useful feedback by emailing your existing users base with tried and trusted tools like Surveymonkey or Zoomerang, but the live visitor feedback from the tools I’ve mentioned gives a wider range of feedback from non-registered users too.