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You spent months designing and building your website, creating a content strategy, loading it with great images and marketing it to your target audience, but that ticker tape parade you were expecting hasn’t happened yet. You’ve not gotten so much as a singing Candygram, praising your efforts — does that mean people don’t see your brilliance for what it is? Or are they simply in awe of your genius? Stunned into silence as it were…
How does a company go about getting great feedback? Guessing doesn’t help when you’re trying to get feedback on your site, whether you hope to use it for further marketing efforts or to improve its functionality. You need a way of getting more honest feedback to help you drive your site’s future development and online marketing, but how can you reach out to your customers from across the web? Basically, what are they seeing that you’re not. We wrote a post a while back on Seeing Your Website from Your Visitor’s Point of View. Believe it or not the suggestions could be as easy as the the recommendations below.
Asking for Honest Feedback
In an age when even cute kitten videos on YouTube are getting flamed with lingual blowtorches, it may seem like a risky thing to simply ask for feedback from your users, but trust me, this will work. Depending on what sort of website you’ve got running, of course, the type of feedback and how you’ll ask for it may differ. You’ve got a lot of feedback options, including:
Online Reviews. Sites like Yelp and Angie’s List give users an easy way to review your website, business or services all in the same place. Although they may not mention specific things you’d like to get feedback on, like your site’s design or the effectiveness of a specific site element, you’ll get a good idea about what the user thought about your offerings. Most sites allow you to respond to feedback, both good and bad, though that’s not always a great thing.
On-Site Comments. Many website owners give their users opportunities to leave freeform comments about the site, their transactions and other elements. Comment boxes are easy to program into your site, can be installed nearly anywhere and will email directly to you so you can weed through them at your leisure. You may have to deal with some spam if you don’t install a spam-defeating submission test, though.
Surveys. Believe it or not, the old fashioned survey is still one of the best ways to get feedback. A number of third party companies like SurveyMonkey provide the tools you need to create a complete survey for your users. This way, you can ask your users the questions burning in your soul, from what they think about your landing page colors to how you can better improve their experience. Keep the questions specific, though, since generic questions often return generic answers.
Social Media. Social Media is the ultimate place for feedback. For better or worse, people love posting their opinions on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. If your brand isn’t already engaging your site’s visitors via Social, it’s high time you did. There you can ask the exact questions you’ve been dying to have answers to, plus get feedback you never asked for. Keep your Social following engaged and they’ll give you plenty of useful ideas.
Email Lists. This one can be a little trickier, since so much email filters through an email box in a day. But, if you’ve got loyal visitors who regularly read a newsletter or watch for your coupons, they may be willing to follow an email link to a survey. Offering an incentive may help motivate these users — remember, most people want to know what’s in it for them when they’re approached with an unsolicited request for information.
Dealing with Public Feedback
When you get a bad Yelp review or your social media followers are in an uproar, you have two choices: you can deal with it or you can ignore it. Ignoring problems like these may seem like the best idea, but when you ignore customers who are hoping to interact with you, you lose an opportunity to offer a personal apology or thank you. Remember, Social is about engagement, so if you’re ignoring instead of engaging, you might as well not be participating.
Dealing with public feedback is another issue entirely, and one where a lot of businesses make huge, horrible, awful mistakes. Yes, you’re well within your rights to fight with someone who has posted a critical bit of feedback, but it’s not going to help you. In fact, it’s more likely to spawn even more negative feedback. Instead of fighting, own your mistake or fault in some way, don’t pass the buck, then apologize.
You’ll find that saving face is a much more powerful marketing tactic than being defensive ever was. In fact, if you go back and correct the problem and make the user aware of it, that same angry customer may well edit or amend their feedback to include some of the best feedback you’ve ever gotten for your business. People with problems want to be heard, sometimes they just don’t know how to reach out and say so.
Getting great feedback is about more than just bugging your site’s visitors or customers for their thoughts. You can easily get excellent feedback by interacting with them through Social Media and leaving them other avenues for expressing themselves. Dealing with the bad feedback is just as important as the good, so don’t forget to do what you can to turn every negative review into a positive one.