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4 ways customer feedback benefits marketing strategies

Leela Srinivasan of SurveyMonkey offered tips on using customer feedback data to inform enterprise marketing strategy during a session at Inbound 2019.

BOSTON -- Designing a marketing strategy without knowing what customers think is like driving with a blindfold on. You're going to have some kind of impact, but maybe not the type you want.

Leela Srinivasan, chief marketing officer at SurveyMonkey, based in San Mateo, Calif., spoke about the importance of customer feedback during a session here at HubSpot's 2019 Inbound conference, offering tips and tricks on using it to improve strategy in all areas of enterprise technology.

Here are four customer feedback benefits to consider when designing a marketing strategy.

1. Improve advertising and search interest

Companies can use customer feedback to improve the quality of their marketing and personalize it for whatever niche audience consumes it. To do that, they need to construct a voice-of-the-customer profile.

You can find customer feedback in several ways, including the following:

  • parsing ad pages with AI or other software;
  • in-product messaging services;
  • social media;
  • customer support interactions;
  • surveys and comment cards; and
  • mystery shopping.
Leela Srinivasan, CMO, SurveyMonkeyLeela Srinivasan

You can use this information to fine-tune test slogans, images, user-facing content and ad messaging that you can then concept test in the community to see how the changes alter the way people discuss the brand. Then, you can follow that up with changes to your marketing strategy.

Just make sure you pay attention to customer feedback beyond the raw numerical data. Cultural context is just one thing to consider. During her session, Srinivasan told a story about an international ad campaign where a mistranslation of one company's slogan implied the product caused diarrhea. Needless to say, it didn't sell well in that market.

"It was literally a crap campaign," Srinivasan said.

2. Keep customers engaged for life

One of the most salient benefits to collecting customer feedback is it gives you an idea of how customers think. If you know what customers want, when they want it and how they use it, you can better empathize with them and personalize their experience with the company.

For example, Box mapped out a theoretical customer journey, identified places where they were at high risk for losing loyalty to the brand and used surveys to get feedback from customers in those stages. Customer feedback let Box leaders see if customers liked certain changes they made to their software. If the feedback was negative, they either found ways to teach customers how to use the new options or changed those options completely. When the feedback was positive, the company capitalized on it by leading customers to other sales and the promise of an even better customer experience.

It's also always important to ask customers if there is anything else you can do for them, Srinivasan said.

Srinivasan shared an anecdote about a company she worked at before SurveyMonkey. There, a survey team collected data from a customer and ended the survey by asking if there was anything else the company could do for them. The customer responded by jokingly asking for some ice cream. This was actionable feedback, and the survey team improved the customer's opinion of the company by sending over enough ice cream to feed the office for an afternoon.

"They became our biggest champion in Canada as the result of sending them $25 in ice cream," Srinivasan said.

3. Expand your customer base

[A company] became our biggest champion in Canada as the result of sending them $25 in ice cream.
Leela SrinivasanChief marketing officer, SurveyMonkey

When feedback benefits customers, they can generate word-of-mouth advertising at little to no cost for a company. Moreover, if a customer is happy with your service, they might recommend potential customers to the sales team.

"People don't trust brands, [and] they don't trust marketing," Srinivasan said. "But they trust the opinions of their peers."

Because customers remember their experiences -- good and bad – it's a good idea to put together a customer advisory council to head off negative feedback before it happens, Srinivasan said.

This council, made up of people who represent the ideal customer, provides constructive feedback on a company's practices, packaging and even pricing before it hits the market. If there are problems with it, the company can address it beforehand to maximize the positive feedback it hopes to receive from customers after launch.

Pricing is a huge pain point that can drive away potential customers and worry existing ones, Srinivasan said.

"If you have four people willing to pay $20 and one person willing to pay $100, you don't want to average that out to $35, because four people are excluded and one person is laughing about it," she said. "You can live or die by your pricing."

4. Improve workforce morale

Customer feedback benefits not only customers, but also employees, Srinivasan said. You can make your employees feel secure and happy with their work by demonstrating empathy on both sides of the fence.

By showing empathy to employees, you can develop brand loyalty internally. By showing empathy to customers, you can create feedback that is consistently positive. If employees see customers succeeding and staying with your company, they will perceive the company as being stable and worth working for longer.

LinkedIn tapped into this paradigm when it released its global recruiting trends report this year. The report argued that recruiters have to market the merits of their companies to potential employees. If employees feel the company is empathetic, successful and diverse, then they are more likely to offer you their labor. Everyone -- even employees -- wants to have a good experience with your brand.

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