How to get Useful Customer Feedback

Solomon Thimothy - August 25, 2008

Direct customer feedback is by far one of the most invaluable tools available to businesses. While it may sound simple enough, doing so may prove a bit more complicated.  Customer feedback is useful when learning which of your marketing or advertising campaigns was successful, and also to understand your conversion rates.

Most often when calling a business, you’ll be asked where and how you found out about them.  In hindsight, this is a good approach at finding out the success rate of your marketing, but beware of the data you are collecting.  Using a question like “How did you hear about us?” is not exactly the best way to obtain accurate data.  Here’s why, and what you can do about it:

Most people don’t want to answer the question and will tell you the first thing that pops into their mind.  This can be detrimental to your data collection efforts, especially if you are running a mid to large size business.

Most likely, the person that receives the initial call from a new customer is a receptionist or secretary, and are not fully aware of your marketing efforts and might not be concerned enough to collect accurate data.  Someone may say, “I saw your ad in the newspaper.”  While this is indeed good information, you still don’t know whether this was the ad you just placed with the new image in your local paper, or whether it’s the full-page ad in the city paper.  Unidentifiable data is just as bad as no data at all.

When trying to collect data, be sure to ask more specific questions.  To make it easier on yourself, you may try using special marketing characteristics for each of your campaigns.  For example, you may want to color code your direct marketing campaigns (i.e. September post cards “blue” and October post cards “orange”).  This will allow you to easily identify what campaign your customers are responding to.

If you are collecting data off your website, make sure you make it easy for your visitors to select the correct option.  Don’t leave it up to them to give you information.

When collecting customer feedback which helps determine the success rate of your marketing campaigns, a common issue that arises is launching a campaign that is not time sensitive.  What do I mean by this?  Let’s say you send out a direct mail piece without an offer.  Someone may keep your postcard for future reference and may call you a year or two later to tell you they discovered your business through a postcard.  So which postcard was it?  Was it the one from this spring or from two years ago?

A great way to make sure you are getting the responses you want is by creating campaigns that can be easily tracked.  With today’s technology, this can be done very easily.  VDP (Variable Data Printing) and PURLS (Personalized URLs) are great approaches to tracking results and recognizing the success of your campaigns.  By integrating print media and web media together, businesses can accurately track and measure the results and modify their approach to improve the effectiveness of their marketing efforts.

If you are providing an offer, you may want to specify a special offer code to use when calling.  By assigning different codes to different offers, you will know exactly what marketing piece this conversion is due to.

So the next time you are ready to launch your marketing campaign, make sure to keep these suggestions in mind as it will help you calculate your ROI, ultimately leading you to better investments in the future.

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