Practical Ecommerce

Using Surveys to Grow Sales; 4 Tips

Ecommerce merchants frequently reach out to new and existing customers. Whether they use methods such as email, paid search, search engine optimization or banner ads, the goal is always the same: to drive qualified traffic back to their sites. Unlike brick and mortar stores, however, there is not always an opportunity to hear valuable feedback from these visitors and customers. Implementing a simple survey — powered by email — is an effective way to not only gain valuable feedback but to also garnish relationships and entice repeat purchases. Below are four tips on how and when to combine surveys and email.

1. The Purchase Follow-up

Merchants should have a transactional email program in place to communicate information about a purchase. Including a follow-up survey as part of that program is essential. Ask questions to help you improve your product, service or overall purchasing experience. Offer a discount towards the customer’s next purchase as a reward for taking the survey. You’ll likely hear of any customer service glitches — from customers with problem orders. It will also help ensure a long-lasting relationship, which should spur future orders and referrals.

2. The Lapsed Customer Inquiry

Virtually all merchants have customers who have lapsed and have not purchased products in a long time. Determine who makes up this group — are they customers that may return in the future or a one-time purchaser who is not likely to return? Sending a survey to gauge the behavior of this group will not only help you market better, but will allow you to trim your file. If you have a more advanced email program, surveying customers to find out their email preferences is also a great way to segment your file.

3. The Lead Generation Survey

Depending on the product or service you sell, sometimes it takes a phone conversation to convert consumers who are undecided. Design a survey to isolate those who need more help with their purchase. This will reduce phone calls and allow you to pinpoint the responsive and ready-to-purchase customers. This survey can be a simple one or two question poll that could be automatically triggered during shopping cart abandonment — or perhaps a browsing abandonment.

4. The ‘Next Big Thing’ Survey

Determining the product needs of a customer base is among the valuable information a retailer can obtain. In the pre-iPod days, for example, I conducted a study on high school students, asking them to describe a product that they would be willing to purchase in the near future. The response was overwhelming: a music device similar to a CD player, with the ability to hold more music. Shortly after the survey, MP3 players hit the market. I witnessed the power that consumer demands have on the future of products and technology. By emailing out a survey every few months to your customers, you’ll get a better idea of their future demands and how you can be ready to meet them. You may not invent the next iPod, but you’ll better serve your customers.

Carolyn Nye

Carolyn Nye

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