How do you track user feedback? How do you know the content, product, or service that you provide in your email program meets user expectations? How do you track user sentiment over time? How well do your customers’ actions align with your desired business objectives?
These important questions can fuel your product backlog and content strategies. Understanding your customer base through surveys, interviews, focus groups, inbox data, and site metrics helps bridge any gaps between user expectation and reality. In the product development world, maximizing the impact of product enhancements requires understanding the users before any time is spent changing your product. Otherwise, those enhancements might not actually satisfy user needs. This same process can be applied to enhance your existing email content and segmentation strategies.
Collect User Feedback
I’ve found it best to collect user feedback continually, as opposed to treating user-feedback collection like a standalone campaign. Adding survey response links to baseline email campaigns can provide a constant stream of user comments and recommendations. In combination with on-site feedback loops and in-person user discovery, you can quickly start to get an understanding of user expectations, as well as where your current program could use improvement.
If simply asking for user feedback isn’t generating the volume of responses you were expecting, consider offering a small gift card or other promotion for the user’s time and effort.
Tracking and Analyzing
It’s easy to give your users a free text box to collect their general thoughts about your brand, but it can be difficult to quantify sentiment and understand the feedback from a high level without some kind of rating scale in place. Solving this can be as simple as the addition of a quick response scale. E.g., Asking users how they feel about an email on a 1-5 rating system. The ultimate goal is to give your user a voice, but you also need to frame the user responses in a way that is trackable over time. Services such as OpinionLab and Usabilla specialize in user-feedback collection and analytics.
Another way to keep this data manageable is to offer a survey with standard drop-down options based on commonly mentioned user feedback. This keeps the typing to a minimum for the user and separates feedback into neatly defined categories for you.
Be Mindful of the User’s Time
If you’re sending out a survey, don’t make the surveys too long. Try to isolate the two or three key pieces of information you want to clarify before finalizing your survey. Usually the two groups most likely to give user feedback are your most active users and users who just recently unsubscribed. Adding an automated survey after key activity points such as purchase, activation, and unsubscribe can help continually collect user feedback when it is best for the user. Be sure to use “required” questions sparingly.
If you’re bringing users on-site to ask them questions, don’t keep them there longer than advertised. If you’re trying to collect user feedback in-person and in a high traffic area like a mall, try to limit your interaction with them to under one minute. If you’re able to bring users into your offices, and they come in over lunch, feed them. These users are providing feedback on how to make your program better than it is today – treat them accordingly.
It’s relatively easy to collect user feedback. Taking action on that feedback, however, often proves far more difficult, especially if the feedback contradicts internal initiatives. Don’t be afraid to use explicit user-feedback to make internal course corrections on existing programs. After all, that is one of the main points of collecting this feedback – utilizing past user experience to enhance site/inbox experiences down the road.
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