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A Priceless Formula For Success: Customer Feedback + Web Analytics

Several years after the introduction of feedback analytics, online retailers continue to find ways to put the priceless resource of the user’s voice to work to increase conversions, sales and customer loyalty. Among the most innovative applications of direct customer feedback is analyzing trends to predict search queries, inform SEO design, adjust merchandising and improve overall marketing ROI.

Let’s say an online business selling apparel receives numerous feedback items related to a specific brand of shoe. Perhaps one customer is having trouble finding her size, another customer is requesting a certain color and a third wants to check on a shipping date for the pair she ordered.

All three customers have different needs the company can meet by responding to their feedback forms. However, if that is all the company does with that feedback, it has missed a valuable marketing opportunity.

Those three customers (who might be 10 or 50 or 1,000 customers in a real-life instance) just told the business that these shoes are hot right now. A smart marketer will take that communication and run with it. Perhaps the company should change some of its keywords to optimize its site for search engine queries about these shoes. Maybe the area of the site featuring these products should be highlighted on the company’s home page. There might be opportunities to promote the availability of these items in the business’ newsletter or via its social networking platforms. And of course, this might be a good time for the company to consider increasing its stock to meet demand.

Once feedback items indicate such an opportunity, an online business can track more specific trends in real-time from day to day. For example, if the spike in interest in these shoes appears on a Monday afternoon, the company might look closely at related feedback items on Tuesday and learn from additional customers that, yes, these shoes are increasingly popular, but suddenly everyone wants them in red, specifically. Later data from either feedback forms or integrated web analytics might indicate that the strongest interest in the product is coming from the west coast or from women in their thirties. Perhaps a feedback item could indicate the reason for the abrupt, enormous interest: “I can’t find the wedges Katie Holmes is wearing in People Magazine this week.”

All of this data is actionable.

The example is theoretical, but the implications for online businesses are quite real. There are numerous benefits to establishing real-time communications channels with customers via feedback analytics and integrating that input with traditional web analytics. Improving online and offline marketing strategy is one of many uses.

Integrating feedback with web analytics

One way to gain a competitive edge and connect more closely with customers is to merge your web analytics data with user opinions, wants and needs. By integrating these two critical items, companies can combine user feedback directly with behavioral information from web analytics to create a real-time communications channel and gain a deeper insight into a user’s online experience.

Customer feedback can help you increase satisfaction, loyalty, retention and conversion rates, so web site owners should carefully consider the most appropriate feedback tools for their needs. You may have shopped around, or even experimented with a feedback tool or survey. Internet surveys—which come in a variety of formats including emails, online pop-ups and survey landing pages—can be useful in extracting answers to ‘site-level’ questions, such as: “Where did you hear about our site?” “What are you looking for?” “Who are you?”

Responses help you know your users better, but they don’t give you qualitative information about user behavior—it’s mainly statistical data, and you already have this and so much more with your web analytics. You want to know the “why” behind user behavior; do not deny users the opportunity to steer a conversation with you by only offering your customers static surveys. Let them tell you the reasons for their behavior, and make sure you have the ability to optimize their feedback and act upon it.

Online feedback forms that are integrated with web analytics provide a way to gain instant feedback to the site that is easily measurable based on individualized business metrics. Integrating customer data into your web analytics, which traditional surveys are unable to do, is the best way to put a human face on your web analytics process. In addition, with this type of feedback solution, you provide your customers with a feedback button on each of the site elements you wish to monitor.

The combined feedback and web analytics reporting can help you answer complex questions like: why are users in different countries leaving my web site or abandoning my shopping cart? You can correlate your web analytics’ metrics directly with feedback data from customers and visitors using the real-time feedback forms.

Taking action on integrated web analytics and customer feedback

Imagine you have created a feedback category for “bugs,” and you ranked the feedback based on grades. For every visitor or customer that gave a low grade for “bug,” you can combine this with your web analytics to also include browser information, comments and more. By identifying and reviewing data in this manner, you can easily identify potential bottlenecks or performance problems and make immediate adjustments. Then you can contact users directly and update them on your progress. By doing so, you let your customers know that your company cares about their experiences and is available to help.

Using your web analytics, it is possible to zoom in on visitors who gave certain grades or provided feedback on certain topics through your real-time feedback channel, and create reports based on this information. You can add any web analytics metric to the existing feedback for more enriched reporting and virtually limitless reporting combinations. You can measure by rating, feedback item, country, browser, operating system, web site process and more. This helps you make online experiences more personalized and relevant to your users, and gives you the materials you need to steer marketing efforts based on real-time customer interests.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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