Launching an online marketing strategy without a plan for deriving specific insights is like trying to drive a car without a steering wheel. You need a sustainable and measurable framework for monitoring your online marketing efforts that ensures performance remains at its peak. This is where the customer feedback cycle comes in.
Every digital marketer needs a continuous and sustainable way of keeping online experiences satisfactory (and keeping churn to a minimum), which is precisely what the customer feedback cycle facilitates.
In this article we’ll identify the three stages of the customer feedback cycle and look at how adhering to it can improve online marketing strategies for companies in a variety of industries.
“The strongest feedback loops do more than just connect customers, the front line, and a few decision makers in management, however; they keep the customer front and center across the entire organization.” – Harvard Business Review
What is the Customer Feedback Cycle?
The customer feedback cycle, otherwise known as the customer feedback loop, is a strategy digital marketing teams use to continuously improve their products, web content and overall customer experience. The cycle begins with feedback collection, whereby the visitor leaves feedback (either on a website, mobile app or via email). That feedback is then analyzed, enabling the organization to draw conclusions and take action accordingly.
The Three Stages Broken Down
1. Feedback Collection
Collecting online feedback can be done in a number of different ways regardless of the platform chosen to gather it.
It’s important to remember that developing a sound strategy for collecting feedback is very much dependent on what your goals are. Think about what you want to achieve with feedback- is it identifying customer satisfaction and customer loyalty levels? Do you want to learn more about the usability of your website?
While many companies make use of feedback surveys, they don’t always use them optimally. In fact, there are various strategies and question types that can be employed to get meaningful and relevant feedback- all of which are dependent on the situation.
Here are three of the most popular methods for collecting feedback:
Website Content Feedback
If you want to measure the performance of online content, such as product information, FAQs, e-manuals, etc., then you’ll want to have feedback forms readily available in these locations. Typically, we see customers using either embedded feedback forms (at the bottom of a page with a lot of content) or employing a proactive trigger (i.e. scrolling on the page) that triggers feedback forms to appear in an overlay on the page. This type of feedback is critical because your website content helps your customers make important purchasing decisions.
Below is an example of an embedded form.
Exit Feedback within Purchasing Funnels
Does the visitor want to order a product, change his/her account, solve a problem or get support from customer service? In order to cater to these needs, you’ll need feedback forms that appear at the right moment and include questions that are tailored to the moment.
Alpharooms is a great example of a company that does this well. As you see in the generic feedback form below, they apply categories to their forms, give users the opportunity to explain their feedback in an open comment section and also collect visual feedback (for capturing any potential design bugs).
Feedback measuring customer loyalty post-purchase
Another interesting method for collecting feedback is in the post-purchase phase. This is important because these are customers who have converted, yet you know nothing about their journey to conversion. By employing a feedback form on the confirmation page (post-purchase), you can learn a lot about how much effort it took for the customer to make their purchase and whether or not they’d be likely to recommend your brand to a family member or friend. The metrics we often use in this phase are Customer Effort Score (CES) and Net Promoter Score (NPS).
Here is an example of an NPS form:
2. Feedback Analysis
The next step is to make sense of the incoming feedback data. Considering much of the feedback businesses collect comes in large numbers, dashboard analyses are particularly helpful in doing this. Dashboards can help users visualize feedback all at once, making it easier to identify trends such as an increase in customer loyalty, a decrease in satisfaction in a certain funnel and more.
And for a closer look at what is driving these trends (in other words, identifying the root cause), users can hone in on particular items and see where things are going right or wrong. Gathering these insights will put you on the track for the last phase of the customer feedback cycle: taking action.
Going back to the examples from the collection phase: Website Content Performance, Purchasing Funnels and Post-Purchase, let’s look at some charts one might use to analyze these types of feedback:
Analyzing Website Content Performance
With this type of feedback, it’s best to keep things simple. So depending on the complexity of your feedback forms, it might be best to start with a chart that measures incoming data from your embedded form, ‘Was this information helpful?’ (Yes or No). With this data, you can create a distribution chart that shows the level of helpfulness per week or per month. See below:
Once you have an idea of where you stand you can move on to more complex charts. Some examples of these charts might include, ‘Reasons for not achieving their goal on the product page’ to identify where your customers are struggling or ‘Level of effort on product pages’ to identify which products or product types they experienced difficulty with. The latter would be measured using the CES scores collected.
Analyzing feedback from Purchasing Funnels
To analyze feedback in purchasing funnels, CES and GCR are widely used. For example, if you measure CES over time, it will provide you with insight into whether your sales funnels cost your visitors increasingly more or increasingly less effort. This is also your chance to review leads previously captured in your feedback forms. These leads are typically visitors who tried to place an order but were unsuccessful. To easily pinpoint who your leads are, you can create an overview in a chart on your dashboard showing the total amount of leads.
Analyzing Post-Purchase Feedback
In this stage, it’s critical that you are consistent in your analyses as this is essentially where you learn if other measures to improve previous stages of the funnel were effective.
For example, you can create charts that show NPS ratings per week, using a distribution of promoters, passives and detractors. Alternatively, you can create charts with CES to understand how smooth the entire process was for the customer.
3. Taking Action on Feedback
The last step is doing something with the insights you’ve uncovered. Taking action based on feedback can help build up loyalty and increase conversions in big ways. And leveraging the insights gained through careful analysis, companies can optimize their websites or apps in to provide their users with a much smoother journey.
To do this properly, it is ideal to have the right action management process in place, enabling you to engage your ‘at-risk’ customers and put them back on the path to success. In this stage, you must consider both internal and external actions.
There are many ways companies can keep these lines of communication tight including contact center tools, CRM (e.g. SalesForce) and ticketing tools. This can also be managed within your feedback tool if the features and integrations are available.
To sum it up, this last phase is really about handling the feedback you receive in an efficient and effective manner, both among your colleagues and with your customers.
Improving online marketing strategies with feedback
Let’s take a look at some of the most important aspects of your online marketing strategy and how feedback can improve these areas.
Usability / Web Design
Website usability is essentially a measure of how effectively and efficiently website visitors can navigate through your website. This comprises everything that the visitor experiences, so take into account the imagery, buttons, copy, and flow.
Usability is incredibly important as it has a significant impact on whether or not your customers reach their goal. If a page is difficult to navigate, a link doesn’t work, or a button redirects to the wrong page, things that seem like little hurdles can actually ruin your visitors’ experience.
User feedback can quickly help identify and resolve the most common issues, and one way to do this is with visual feedback.
Visual feedback enables website visitors to pinpoint specific page elements (like forms, images, buttons or paragraphs) and provide feedback on those page elements. Immediate insights into what your users are getting hung up on will enable your team to make quick changes to the site, or at least it will prompt internal discussions about how to better organize the page itself.
In this example, the visitor is struggling to get a video on the website to work. Without feedback, this design issue might go unnoticed for a while and the video quality will remain poor. However, as you can see a feedback form with a visual feedback option brings direct attention to the error, highlighting where it is on the page. Once the form is submitted, this information then trickles directly into the dashboard of the organization where they can quickly resolve the issue and avoid churn.
Email marketing remains one of the most effective marketing channels with the highest Return on Investment (ROI). Much like other marketing channels, however, email campaigns do offer up their fair share of challenges…
The process for collecting email feedback is slightly different from collecting your standard metrics, such as bounce rate, open rate, click-through-rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CR).
Typically, this feedback is collected at the end of an email (once readers have read through the email) using an embedded feedback form. In this form, include one or two questions that will help you meet your goal with the feedback. Once you’ve collected it, it’s important to tell the reader what you will do with their feedback. The likelihood that people will provide you with feedback is much higher if they know why they’re providing feedback. For example, let your readers know that with their feedback you intend to improve any future email(s).
Think of it this way. Your website is often the first chance you have to market your company’s products and services to your customers. So why wouldn’t you make it a priority to have the best web content out there?
You can collect user feedback on all types of content including product content (e.g. product descriptions, videos and images), online support services (e.g. FAQs, forums, online communities, e-manuals, etc), and other written content such as news pages and blog articles.
There are two ways to collect this feedback: either via an embedded feedback form below the content or enabling a proactive trigger when the visitor has scrolled to the bottom of the page. The latter is done by creating settings within your feedback form builder (if possible).
This type of feedback is fairly easy to analyze too. If you break down your content into different sections or categories, you can use charts to visualize which pages (e.g. URL-specific) are performing well.
For example, say you want to make an analysis of how well certain posts on your blog are performing. If you embed a feedback form (that includes a star rating metric & open comments section) at the bottom of each post, you can measure how well-received each post is.
Conversion Rate Optimization
Conversion Rate Optimization is an important method of using analytics and feedback to boost online performance. It is used to improve practically any metric that’s important to your organization (on your website). In other words, it increases the chances of passive visitors turning into conversions, and a higher conversion rate = better ROI.
In terms of direct conversions, user feedback can serve as an excellent crutch within your checkout funnel. Shopping cart abandonment is an issue that has been plaguing thousands of webshops for years now. In fact, nearly 74.3% of all online shopping carts are abandoned globally. So what’s happening? Where are you going wrong? Are there ways to turn this process around? Certainly – which is why we’re surprised to see that webshop owners are still left in a state of confusion when they realize that their abandonment rates are still up.
To avoid this, start implementing exit feedback forms within the purchasing / checkout process. These types of feedback forms are perfect for capturing those customers before they leave the point of conversion. It gives them an easy way to explain themselves and what it is they’re struggling with.
Like the example above, just ask your visitors directly, ‘Why are you leaving?’ or use Goal Completion Rate (GCR) as a metric and provide them with some sort of open comment section for an explanation.
Alternatively, you can give them a drop-down menu with a number of reasons they might be leaving. Want to follow up with your customers more personally? Ask for their contact details at the end of the form. That way you’ll have all your bases covered.
Mobile has become an increasingly popular channel for digital marketing efforts. In a study carried out by Statista, in the third quarter of 2017, nearly 53% of global web traffic originated from mobile devices. This is a big jump considering this percentage totaled up to nearly 45% in the previous year and this number continues to rise today.
This rise in mobiles users means businesses will be obliged to provide an optimal mobile experience for their customers. Seeing as how mobile behaviors and shopping patterns are constantly changing, mobile user experience is something which must be continuously optimized – especially if businesses wish to maintain a loyal and satisfied customer base. This is where the collection of in-app feedback comes in handy.
Essentially what in-app feedback does is provide businesses with insight into how customers experience the mobile app while they’re active in the app. There are several different ways of collecting in-app feedback, including webview, API posts and SDKs.
A webview is a browser that has been packed into a mobile application (which produces what is called a ‘hybrid app’). When collecting feedback through a webview, all the user needs to do is load a feedback form into the webview using their feedback software.
An API (or Application Programming Interface) is a set of definitions, protocols and tools that are used for building application software. Most large companies have, at some point, either built APIs for their customers or for internal use. The advantage of using an API to collect mobile feedback is that you are given a lot of flexibility when it comes to building and implementing your feedback forms. In other words, you decide how you want your forms to look and when/where they will appear in your mobile app. The only thing to keep in mind when using an API is that if you want to edit a feedback form, you have to release a new version of your app that users will have to download/update.
An SDK (or Software Development Kit) is a downloadable software package that includes the tools needed to build on a platform. It is a complete set of APIs that enable users to perform any action needed to create applications. With an SDK, you can easily make changes to your feedback form(s) without releasing a new version of the mobile app and it is also very easy to integrate new features. SDKs also make it possible for users to apply triggers and other website feedback features that wouldn’t be applicable otherwise.
Once you’ve employed one of the aforementioned methods, start off by giving your visitors the opportunity to provide passive feedback (using a feedback button). When you’re ready, move on to embedding feedback forms at the end of the funnel.
User Feedback for the win!
User feedback can be a very beneficial tool that supports a wide range of online marketing strategies. From mobile channels to shopping cart abandonment and from product content to web design, user feedback will tell you a lot about how your customers feel and experience your websites or mobile apps. Remember though – it’s not only about collecting feedback. To see real results and improvement in your online performance, analyzing and taking action on this feedback are critical. Feedback is a continuous process, as there will always be room for improvement.
Guest author: Erin Gilliam
Erin is a Content Marketer at Mopinion and has a background in international business and digital marketing. Mopinion is an all-in-one user feedback software that helps digital teams make sense out of customer feedback from websites and mobile apps and turn it into real-time insights. Mopinion is now one of the fastest growing companies in the digital customer experience space.
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- How to Iprove Customer Experiences with Trigger-Based Messages
This Article is About:
- The Customer Feedback Cycle
- How to collect customer feedback
- Using customer feedback to improve your online marketing strategies