5 Survey Questions Smart Marketers Ask
Surveys can be double-edged swords. On the one hand, the tools required come with obvious, glaring setbacks. Many of the tools required to conduct surveys properly don't come cheap — see here for iPerceptions. (You need to contact OpinionLab and ForeSee for pricing.) Cost (and cost justification) is just one of your headaches, however. The other ones can be decidedly more fatal.
Implemented incorrectly, they can hurt the user experience. Even when they're implemented correctly, the surveys themselves sometimes serve too many masters: brand and Net Promoter Scores’ questions for chief marketing officers; visitor demographics for metrics teams; and usability questions for your user experience people. Of course, when all of them are in charge, you end up with a 150-question survey that only your most patient visitors will suffer through — and begrudgingly so.
There's a better way to do this.
What you need to do is think about (and make the company think about) what the survey offers that Google Analytics, Omniture, WebTrends, CoreMetrics or any other traffic monitoring tool will NOT tell you, namely:
- what visitors want;
- whether they can get to it; and
- what's broken on your website (in their own words).
You need to drastically reduce the number of questions you ask. These are the five I suggest because from them you can start testing for solutions. You can have more than these, but try to bring down the total number of questions to below 15, if you can, for a healthy response rate.
Question 1: What are you looking for on the website?
A good variant is, "Why did you come to the website?" You think you know the user task, but unless your visitors tell you specifically what they want, and you process the data, you don't. Traffic doesn't get you this. What do visitors want when they get to your product detail? Pricing? Specifications? Accessories? A/B tests don't get you this information. About the only thing that comes close to telling you this level of intent from a traffic analysis tool is on-site search terms, but that's for a segment of your traffic that self-select into "askers" or experience difficulty.
Tim Ash is the author of the bestselling book Landing Page Optimization, and CEO of SiteTuners. A computer scientist and cognitive scientist by education (his PhD studies were in Neural Networks and Artificial Intelligence), Tim has developed an expertise in user-centered design, persuasion and understanding online behavior, and landing page testing. In the mid-1990s he became one of the early pioneers in the discipline of website conversion rate optimization. Over the past 15 years, Tim has helped a number of major US and international brands to develop successful web-based initiatives. Companies like Google, Expedia, Kodak, eHarmony, Facebook, American Express, Canon, Nestle, Symantec, Intuit, AutoDesk and many others have benefitted from Tim's deep understanding and innovative perspective.
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