Published on September 27, 2012 Using polls and social media to gain customer insight
If you’re running a small business then you may not have the time or budget to set up and run focus group research to determine trends and feedback about the products in your industry. So how can you find out what your customers want?
Engaging customers through the content features of your website, and through social media are two relatively cheap alternatives to in-depth focus group customer research that can give you useful insights into what your customers want, and have the positive side effect of building engagement and loyalty to your brand.
Asking customers directly with polls
Polls allow you to post quick questions on your website to gauge interest or feedback on topical issues. It’s a technique that news and magazine sites have been using for years to increase involvement by users in the website, and it’s a technique that you can use effectively in your store too.
Polls are implemented in Ozcart as a side box that you can turn on via the Block manager and you can set up multiple questions that customers can view and respond to.
Where do you start? There are two broad approaches to setting up polls. The first is to offer content and questions directly relevant to your products and business, and the second is to offer content and questions related to topical news stories that may or may not be related. If you can inter-mix the two you will likely have a better chance of succeeding, because customers do not like “hard sell” in online space, but do not want to sit on your online shop website looking at questions irrelevant to why they’re on your website to begin with. Balance is the key.
Website poll ideas you could use include:
- Pick an unusual product that’s related or complementary to your product. Let customers decide how it could be used? Where it could be used? What’s the weirdest way it could be used?
- Try to guess the outcome of a real life news story (that’s related to yours product)?
- Ask about product trends – which of these is more important to you?
- What colours would you like to see popular product x?
- If you sell music, CDs, or DVDs, you could go with classic poll questions like – which of these is the best single from artist X?
- Anything about shopping habits – how do you like to buy X (times of day, places, what type of packaging they prefer, where do they like to receive it, etc.)?
- Anything topical and controversial – the more controversial in your industry, the more responses you might get.
- Guess something – show a random image or product and get customers to guess what it was from.
- Report on a trend or news story relevant to your industry and get customers to vote on what they would have done in that situation.
- Would you buy product X (if it existed)?
Extending to social media
You can repeat this strategy with your social media but give customers more of a free form interaction. Ask them to choose a tagline for a new product or campaign, put a caption on a photo for a prize, tell you the weirdest way a product has been used.
You can get a lot of ideas from the breakfast and drive time radio shows you’ll hear in your local area. Competition for radio is fierce and shows have to work hard to keep your fingers away from the change channel button. They’ll ask listeners to ring in and to feed back through every step of their programmes in all sorts of ways. Think about how you could turn your listeners into active participants like this.
Don’t underestimate the power of content in your website, or the power of social media. Even if you don’t think you need them, you do.