Ask any business owner and they'll tell you, one of the most important rules of thumb is "know thy customer" (KTC).
Knowing who your customers are—not just on a superficial level, but also on a deeper level—is fundamental for business longevity. It can help your business with most any targeted marketing efforts such as social media marketing (communities with like-minded interests), direct mail and email list selection, copywriting, media buying, affiliate marketing and more. It can also help with bottom-line goals such as bonding, lead generation and sales.
For many years, I've found the best way to KTC is implementing periodic customer surveys, then creating a "customer profile" sheet. Ideally, you want to survey at least two times per year, especially after large attrition or list growth.
The profile sheet is important, as it's a quick reference of your "Joe and Jane" customers, as well as your ideal 'target' lead. After all, your prospecting efforts should be a reflection of your current customer base.
But surprisingly enough, not every business knows how to effectively implement and data-mine its online surveys and the respective results.
Here are some quick tips to get the best performance from your customer surveys for business growth and retention:
1. Keep surveys easy and short. The ideal length should be no longer than 10 to 20 questions and questions should be easy to answer. That means thinking of typical questions and having pre-populated multiple choice answers that only need a mouse click.
2. Go 360. Questions should cover demographics, geographics and psychographics. Also, for potential joint venture or advertising opportunities, it's smart to also ask some competitor and purchase-behavioral type questions.
3. Segmentation is key. Send at least two separate emails to your list. One survey to paying customers and one survey to non-paying customers (leads). It will help later to have these two segments separated when you review response results. If one segment is less responsive than another, you can isolate future "bonding" strategies.
4. Offer incentives. I like to offer free, immediate and easily accessible gifts for survey participation after completion of a survey. Once users submit their last response they are redirected to a download page to free reports or similar. People are taking time out of their schedule and should be "rewarded" accordingly.
5. Be creative with the email subject line. I've found that response is greater if the focus of the subject line is more on the reward, rather than the goal. Readers respond better to the mention of freebies and gifts (the "what's in it for me"), than asking for survey completion. Survey subject lines are viewed as clinical and boring, thus glared over in the inbox.
6. Embrace online tools. Use an easy, cost-effective online survey, such as SurveyMonkey.com. There's different options and price points, varying on need and robustness. But ideally, you'd want to be able to collect emails and tie responses down to the user (email) level.
7. Allow feedback. Always have an "other" field for open comments. People like to either vent or add praise, so don't limit them with only having all multiple choice. I tend to make this option the last question.
If you've set up your survey correctly where you can drill down responses to the user (email) level, you can then created "buckets" (categories) of common themes. For example, buckets could be based on RFM (recency, frequency or monetary) or on other categories such as interests.
You can then use this information for database marketing efforts and send more personalized messages to your list by group (or "bucket"). This targeted marketing approach has been proven to increase open, click, response and conversion rates by more than double!
Not surveying your list is really doing a disservice. You are not really getting to know your customers; thereby, aren't offering your best editorial or promotional messages, or creating the best products.
If you're truly looking for better retention, more customer engagement, and increased sales or leads, then make the time to survey your list.
If you've never done this before, then you're truly leaving money on the table, my friend.