Data Driven: 'Know Thy Customer'
• A survey at the end of your shopping cart using a service like Survey Monkey. Keep in mind this only addresses online shoppers, so both the questions asked and the resulting actions must be targeted to this segment.
• Surveys sent via email. Email deployment of surveys can be a quarterly staple of your email program. Like the online survey, this will only reach online customers and specifically those who open your emails. Keep this niche target in mind as you develop and act on the surveys.
2. Go With the Pros
Professional research offers a more in-depth analysis. While there is a more significant cost involved here, the results are much more reliable for a couple of reasons.
First of all, there is a very specific way to script survey questions. Part of what you are paying for is the training and experience that is necessary to use the proper questions. Questions that lead responders in any direction are risky. The second reason is that professional services offer a "third party" perception that can provide more honest data. A third upside to the expense is that it can go beyond your customer base to learn about consumers who are not your customers yet.
The larger the marketing investment you intend to make using research data, the wiser it is to make a different investment to make sure the data is right.
In addition to traditional research resources, there are new opportunities available now that leverage social media, like Facebook, to execute surveys. Consumers are spending so much time on these sites that it makes a lot of sense to include surveys here. These are very scalable, provide reliable data and are actionable immediately. Web Publicity has an exciting program targeting exactly this opportunity (bit.ly/SeNNDp).