How to Use Online Surveys to Build Customer Relationships and Conversations

Surveys used to be rather cut and dry conversation between companies and customers.  Companies ask questions, customers answer questions and that’s the end.  In fact, it wasn’t really a conversation at all.  It was more of a friendly interrogation.

But what if we could actually use surveys to create conversations?  That might be interesting.  A survey could actually inspire a conversation that goes back and forth and ultimately turns into a relationship.

How to inspire conversations around online surveys

  1. Introduce the presence of an online survey to your customers.  Maybe this sounds silly at first, but when you introduce your customers to the fact that you have an online survey and get them to experience the online survey in a fun and non-threatening way, they will be more likely to respond.
  2. Get customers to “opt-into” a conversation with you.  Create a feedback opt-in list.  This is really a low-cost way to start building a customer panel that you can go to for quick and dirty answers to questions.  You can use your standard email marketing tool to do this or try the Survey Analytics MicroPanel application that integrates surveys and panel management under one roof.
  3. Create a friendly email invitation to your survey.  If you already have a customer list, then you can easily create an email invitation that’s as personalized and customized as you’d like.  You can add the respondent’s first name as well as any number of customized fields that will allow you to pinpoint things such as what product or service they purchased or even a sales rep that they’ve worked with.  If it’s a record on your spreadsheet, you can customize it it.
  4. Add a Thank You Page.  You can create your own landing page where you can send your survey respondents after they’ve completed a survey or you can use the QuestionPro /Survey Analytics Thank You Page.  Either way – be sure to include a link where your respondents can continue the conversation with you.  The thank you page is the perfect location for a free download or the ability to register to win a prize or any creative way that you can think of to grab your respondent’s information so that you can stay in touch.
  5. Customized Thank You Email.  A really terrific idea is to send a customized thank you email to your respondents once they’ve finished the survey.  The email can also contain links to other areas where they can stay in touch with you as well as free gifts and incentives for taking the survey.

Don’t let your relationship with the respondents stop after the survey.  Give them opportunities to connect with you and engage in ongoing conversation about your products or services.

5 Creative Ways to Use Your Survey as a Lead Magnet

One of the really fantastic things about online research lately has been its ability to shape-shift from a survey that occurs as a nuisance to something that can actually serve as a lead generation tool.

Here are some creative ways to use your QuestionPro of Survey Analytics tools to generate new leads for your business.

The most important thing to do when you’re using your web site as a lead magnet is to create a landing page that uses an opt-in form.

Once your prospect enters their information into the opt-in form, they will receive a double-opt in email.  Inside of that email, include a link to your survey.

Following is a list of creative ways to use your online survey to generate leads.

  1. Create a quiz.  Why not give your web site visitors an opportunity to test their knowledge on a specific topic.  Let them take the quiz and then as a finishing option, direct them to a page on your site that has the answers written out and explained.
  2. Outline a needs assessment.  Another creative way to use your online survey tool is to create a customer needs assessment.  When your prospect fills out the form, they get forwarded to an assessment that asks them questions about their product or service needs.  After they’ve submitted their assessment, forward them to a landing page on your site where they can click to schedule an appointment with a sales person.  You can even insert a link to a calendar tool like Tungle that shows your representatives available dates and times.
  3. Personality test.  Who can resist a personality profile? If you really wanted to get creative, you could create a personality profile test by using the logic and branching features.  You’ll have to take some time to map out the logic and algorithm for how you will put people into a specific personality profile, but once you’ve got the logic worked out, you’ll be satisfied with the results.
  4. Product evaluation.  Everyone loves to give their two cents and opinion on a variety of products.  You can create a series of short surveys about a specific product and then have people opt-in to review it.
  5. Customer qualification.  It’s common practice to qualify survey respondents to make sure they match your sample requirements.  Why not do the same thing with potential leads or customers?  Ask them your top seven qualifying frustrations and when they finish the survey — send them to a page that specifically outlines the features and benefits that solve their problem.

What are some creative ways that you’ve used your QuestionPro online survey tool to generate new leads for your business?

5 Easy Ways to Attract Followers to Your Blog and Brand

In the world of ecommerce and global business it is more than likely that your website includes a blog. There is important information that is shared in your blog but is it something people are excited about reading. You want to create that blog that people wake up every morning or Monday (depending on how often you update your blog) ready to drink their coffee and see what it is that you had to say today. Follow these 5 tips to attract customers to your blog.

  1. Relate to your customer. The easiest way to get customers to hear you is to relate to them. How are you like them and how can you help them from your own learning experiences. Brainstorm and make a list of what you both like and dislike in your industry or niche. Write about how you are frustrated with “such and such” happens and how you overcame that frustration. Story-telling can be intriguing. Rope them in with your ability to relate to them through your own story.
  2.  Offer Solutions. Now that you have formed a relationship with the customer because you share the same likes and dislikes you can help them. You don’t have to be the decision-maker for them but simply offer different solutions to the problems or concerns. Even through your story you might have tried one solution and found that didn’t work and you tried another solution and found that was successful for you. You can point out that the first solution could have worked in perhaps a little bit of a different scenario.
  3. Engage your customer. It could be that in your story you didn’t find a solution or maybe you want to hear how other people find a solution and what worked for them. Ask your customer direct questions in your blog and share from one another what worked and what didn’t work. Make sure that you follow through with commenting back to your questions. If you want your customer to speak up you need to let them know that they have been heard and their opinion does matter.
  4. Get an expert. After your initial blog and you find out what people have tried. You could invite an expert in your field to help narrow the scope or explain why certain solutions work better than others. You will gain respect from your customer if they know they can go to your blog and find out the honest truths, the ins and outs and even get advice from a credible source.
  5. A Note from your CEO. The face of the company is your CEO. People value the opinion of the top dog. Have your CEO contribute to the blog on a regular basis.  If your CEO doesn’t feel comfortable writing his own content, either let him dictate the content into a digital recorder, have it transcribed and just edit it as an article.
Rather than beat your head against a wall, survey your customers as to what topics interest them most and be sure to write and address those from time to time.  Be sure to tell your readers that you are answering customer questions – this will let everyone know that you are listening to their feedback.

What Market Researchers Learn from the Honey Badger

(ATTENTION: This honey badger video has been cleaned up for safe and clean viewing)

The Badass Honey Badger has been a YouTube sensation for a while now.  It’s even gone mainstream now as a commercial.  I first heard of the honey badger video when I was having “one of those days” and a friend said to me — you need to watch the honey badger video, you’ll laugh and it will get you inspired to go out there and get the job done.

It worked.

So I thought I’d try to see what we can learn from the honey badger in the area of market research .  So here are a few attributes of the honey badger with some thoughts on how we can apply them in market research.

  • Crazy — It’s easy to get into a rut and just do the same old thing.  Why not get crazy.  Take a second look at the questions you’re asking on your survey and start brainstorming other more fun questions that might give you the information you’re looking for.  You can try using the graphic question types and include images instead of just words.
  • Fearless:  The honey badger isn’t afraid of a doggone thing.  He goes into a nest of swarming bees to get larvae and honey.  He attacks cobras.  He’s unstoppable in the face of danger.   He doesn’t sit back and ask for permission and he doesn’t wait for approval from management — he goes and gets the job done.  As researchers we can be fearless by either taking on something new, by taking a stand or by introducing our organizations to ideas or technologies they may not have considered.
  • Takes what it wants:  A recurring phrase in the video is that the honey badger takes what it wants.  To take what you want, you have to know what you want.  I wonder if we don’t take the time to really figure out what it is that we want either out of the research that we’re doing or out of the research function.  What we deliver might have changed as has the way we delivered it — but the expectations are still the same — help business make better and more profitable decisions through data.
  • Eats snakes: What’s the one thing you’ve been running away from or avoiding?  Make like the honey badger and just go after it.  Resolve it one way or the other.  Letting it hang out there clutters your mind and keeps you from going after what matters.
  • Digs:  This is something researchers are great at — digging.  While others just look at the top line, we dig deeper to get to the heart of what the research means.  There’s nothing quite like the thrill of watching the numbers tell a story – so keep digging.
  • Gets up like nothing happened – What did you think about that honey badger fighting the cobra, getting bit, napping and getting up again?  BRILLIANT.  When was the last time you went after something with gusto, attacked it, got knocked down and then went right back to it?  It’s this kind of behavior that builds experience and strength.

There’s a reason that this video has gone viral.  It speaks to something that’s inside all of us at one point or another.  Too many times we see people shy away from what they know in their hearts is right or necessary.

The honey badger doesn’t do what he does because he’s brave or smart — he’s hungry.  Why not add a little of that hungry honey badger energy to your day today.

The ABCs of Customer Satisfaction

The following is a reprint of an article that appeared on Research Access by Dana Stanley.  Read and ask yourself how YOU spell SATISFACTION Image Later this week I’ll be attending the Net Promoter Conference in San Francisco.  I’m really looking covering this event for Research Access. Customer satisfaction (or CSAT) measurement is a highly specialized, but vitally important, part of the research world. Yet I think there are many researchers and marketers who aren’t terribly familiar with the ins and outs of customer satisfaction and loyalty measurement. Here is a quick ABC guide to what you need to know about CSAT.


Satmetrix  Satmetrix, known as the Net Promoter Company, is the firm that administers the Net Promoter methodology.


ACSIThe ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index) is a methodology for measuring customer satisfaction.  It factors in the following variables:  customer expectations, perceived quality, perceived value, customer complaints and customer loyalty.


TrackingCustomer satisfaction and loyalty are fluid; therefore, most measurement programs involve tracking scores consistently over time.


IndicatorCustomer satisfaction is a leading indicator of business success; that’s why it’s so important to understand it and take action based on it.


SCIThe Secure Customer Index is a customer satisfaction measurement methodology developed by D. Randall Brandt.  The SCI combines three elements – overall satisfaction, likelihood to continue using the service, and likelihood to recommend.


FutureThe purpose of customer satisfaction research is to assess current attitudes toward a company in order to predict purchase behavior in the future.


Answering the Ultimate QuestionAnswering the Ultimate Question is a book by Fred Reichheld which outlines the Net Promoter methodology.


Calculating Your Net Promoter ScoreThe Net Promoter score is just what the name implies – the net of customers who are “promoters” minus those who are “detractors.”  The core Net Promoter question asks on a scale of 0 to 10 how likely a customer is to recommend the company to a colleague or friend.  The NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who give a score of 0 through 6 (“Detractors”) from the percentage who give a score of 9 or 10 (“Promoters”).


TruthLike all research, customer satisfaction research is a search for truth.  There are different approaches, but the search for truth must continue unabated.


IndexMost customer satisfaction methodologies yield an index; a single score which is easy for an organization to understand, and, importantly, can be the basis for positive action.


Out of LuckFirms that ignore customer satisfaction altogether will soon find themselves out of luck.


Net Promoter Net Promoter is a customer satisfaction measurement methodology, developed by  Satmetrix, Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld.  The Net Promoter Score is obtained by asking customers about their likelihood to recommend a company to a friend or colleague. You can use this link to get a discount if you’d like to join me at the Net Promoter Conference in San Francisco, February 1-3, 2012. I hope to see you there!

Why Is It So Important To Have Customer Experience Today?

If you are one of those asking this question, just for a heads-up, we have entered “the customers’ era” – an age where the focus is all on customers, instead of other strategic imperatives. The perception of customers has an intense impact on the metrics of a business ranging from customer loyalty and brand equities to cost saving and increased revenues. This is a reality most companies are waking up to today. However, even though executives know that customers make a lot of difference they still don’t have a disciplined approach towards customer interactions. For a business to be successful, the business owners must have a serious approach towards defining, implementing and managing their customer experience.

A Customer-Centric Approach

Having a customer-centric approach is truly your best chance at having a sustainable and competitive advantage. Over the decades, companies keep making promises to customers, without really living up to their expectations in almost all channels. That is a tactic that doesn’t work anymore. Wondering why not? Well, because we are now living in an era where the success of any business imperatively depends on customers, rather than only marketing strategies.

Effects of the Customers’ Era on Businesses

Transforming goods and services into commodities has taken “differentiation” out of the picture.

Traditional boundaries of industries have been dissolved, taking the competitive market to a different dimension.

Customer opinions define the success of a business today. So, if a business gets good responses, it is sure to be a success. On the contrary, if the responses are negative, customers wouldn’t think twice before shunning the brand altogether.

Customer Experience Defines the True Value of a Business

A business executive cannot decide the customer-centricity of his/her company – it is the call of the customers in this case since they are the decisive arbiters. Whether a company is B2B, B2C or a product and service oriented, it can still influence positive customer experiences by:

Bolstering brand equities – by using the best techniques and devices to brand the company.

Acquiring the loyalty of its customers – By building a strong relationship with the customers by ensuring consistent and satisfying services.

Boosting revenues – By adopting the right business methodologies to translate customer loyalty into revenue increments periodically.

Reducing Costs – By driving down its costs to enhance customer support connections.

Customer experience is a discipline with complete tools, practices and methodologies that companies must routinely perform in order to manage customer experience. To have a methodical focus on customers, it is important that customer experience specialists work with C-level executives in order to:

Dedicate employees to customer experience – Customer experience projects don’t usually take off successfully if they are pinned to day jobs.

Allocate budgets to customer experience projects – Doubling down customer experience investments to delight customers is a promising way of ensuring successful initiatives.

Craft customer experience strategies – Having a precise customer experience strategy helps make the organization focus on spreading or distributing the right type of customer interaction strategies.

And finally, focusing on generating a great customer experience builds loyalty and positive word of mouth, which in turn build profitability.  And is there any better reason than that?

How to Boost Your Sales at the Last Minute

You’ve had a good year. You’re satisfied that you ran a decent sales and marketing strategy, and you’re about to wrap up your fourth quarter. But before you close your books and call it a day, ask yourself: Have you done all you can? It’s not too late to boost your sales, and meet — or even exceed– your sales quota before your year is done.

Boosting sales doesn’t require a monstrous budget. Nor should it be tedious. A little ingenuity, elbow grease, and fun alternatives are all it takes to get in there at the last minute, and turn your sales upside down.

Use these 9 steps to evaluate your sales strategy to quickly and easily shake up your sales slump!


Step 1: Have you contacted your customers lately?

You spent a great deal of time and effort perfecting your product or service so that it meets the demands of your intended audience. But are they aware of it? Have you sent direct messages to your customers, community or fans, offering them your solutions to their problems or needs? Don’t just sit back and wait for them to contact you; by using newsletters, three-dimensional lumpy mailing pieces, postcards, or even letters that contain a clear call to action, you can subtly remind your customers to buy your product or service.


Step 2: Do you have all the customers you need?

Telemarketing has become a dirty word in the world of sales but it doesn’t deserve its bad warp. After all, how would your prospective customers know that you have what they want, if you don’t tell them? Be persistent but courteous. And forget about making the sale right there and then. Instead of thinking of the direct call as an anxiety-promoting activity, think of it as an informative call. Tell your potential customers about your product or service and let them decide if it’s right for them. Even if they pass it up, they might have someone else in mind to whom they can refer you.


Step 3: Have you incentivized your customers to bring you new ones?

When they are happy with your product or service, your customers are your best salespeople. Do not squander their goodwill without maximizing on the potential. Ask them to refer you to their friends and family, and make it worth their while. Tying the sale to the referrer is key; it can be an elaborate set of promotion codes, business cards with a tie-in to your customer, or even as simple as a verbal confirmation such as “Joe told me to get this”. Make sure to reward your customers for the referral and they will be more likely to do it again.


Step 4: Have you targeted high-volume prospects?

There are natural pairings for your product or service out there in the community. Have you identified companies, associations, or large communities that would benefit from your product or service? With a simple gesture such as creating an offer specifically for them, or a more elaborate endeavor such as a webinar or teleseminar, you could get these potential big fish to promote your business for you. You create all the sales and marketing materials and they send them to their customers, exponentially increasing your targeted audience.


Step 5: Have you thought of joint ventures?

Closely related to the strategy of reaching out to your community is the idea of reaching out to other businesses for a product or service companion. Have you looked for a product or service that complements yours and can be offered as a part of a bundle? Partnering with brands that already have a distribution channel to your target audience insures that your product or service is distributed, or at the very least, marketed to your potential customers.


Step 6: Have you created a trigger event?

There is nothing that drives sales like a trigger event where your product or service can be put to good use. For example, if you want to sell more flashlights, create a “Thousand Points of Light Day” or a “Safety Day” where people are encouraged to have at least one working flashlight on hand. Invite your local law enforcement officers to demonstrate safety skills at your event. You can even invite your local preschoolers to sample your most colorful models.


Step 7: Have you run a contest yet?

People like to win free stuff. They will go out of their way to win something free, even if they don’t need it. No matter what your product or service is, you can create a contest for people who use it to submit all the creative ways that they have put your product to use. From “naming a new product” to “picking a new color”, you can also involve your customers in your product development. The more vested they are in the selection of new products, the more they are likely to buy the finished version.


Step 8: Are you using social media?

People are flocking to social media by the hordes. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are showing mind-boggling increase in users almost on a daily basis. Are you taking advantage of the potential of this marketing phenomenon? Your customers are getting savvy at finding good deals on the internet. Share with them insider information reserved specifically for the medium, and make it worth their while to look you up.  Engage your existing customer in a conversation about the value and benefits they’re experiencing with your product or service. You may pitch or sell directly on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, but be wary of angering your audience by being too aggressive or obvious. To make best use of social media, think of it as a referral tool that can reach millions in a relatively short amount of time (and at very little cost).


Step 9: Are you thinking creatively enough?

Thinking outside the box is what innovators do. Thinking outside the conventional marketing box is what good salespeople do. They see a need where there isn’t any and create a promotion to address that need. So go ahead, think big. Go on tour, like a rock band! Contact influencers in your industry and ask them to feature you (and your product or service) as part of their business for a day, or a week. This will be the perfect opportunity to answer questions, give advice, and build interest in your product or service. And once you have the sales and marketing information created for the occasion, disseminate it at other venues off the beaten path.


Whether your business is small or big, your selling-cycle short or long, you can apply these sales strategies all year long, not just wait for the doldrums of the year-end last minute countdown. Today’s technology makes every one of these strategies cost-effective and time-sensitive. Some of them require very little effort and planning, others can benefit from a little forethought in organizing and implementing. The good news is that, with a minimal amount of effort, all of the abovementioned strategies can lead to a more creative and meaningful way of conducting your business.

Boosting sales doesn’t have to be a chore, or an unthankful task. If you think of it as a game, a creative undertaking which sparks your imagination and adds fun to the job at hand, you will be surprised by how much you can still surprise yourself.



How to Get Your Customers to Do What You Want

In a perfect world, everybody will do what we want them to: our kids will brush their teeth the first time we ask them to, do their homework, keep their rooms tidy, and keep their curfews; our parents will listen to our advice; our friends will stop their horrendous habits; our spouses will remember their promises.

In a perfect business world, our customers will do what we want them to do: they will notice our advertisements, will read our direct mail, and will take the calls of our salespeople. In short, they will buy what we sell them.

We all know that perfect worlds don’t exist. In this imperfect one, words are often unheard, misconstrued, or forgotten. They are not tangible; they are by their very nature ephemeral. Messages, however interesting or important, get lost all the time.

So what do you do then to keep your message alive? The problem is that conversations, sales pitches, and sales calls are all words. They disappear as soon as you’ve said them and quickly thereafter, they are forgotten as if they never existed! The solution is to get your words to stay permanently in the minds of your customers. How do you do that? You structure your marketing communication strategy in a way that keeps your message alive in the minds of your customers, employees and everyone else with whom your business interacts. And the way to do that is with a strong but simple mission statement that resonates with your audience, long after their first exposure to it. Successful companies are the ones who have understood this mandate and have created a straightforward message to understand and to build a sales and marketing system around.

How to develop a strong but simple mission statement:

FedEx gets it there overnight. Brown delivers. Domino’s gets you a pizza in 30 minutes or less. Twitter messages are 140 characters. If I said “just do it” you would immediately think of Nike. These are all easy messages to remember and easy messages to build a promise around. Your message or conversation has to THAT easy.

But don’t let the simplicity of this directive fool you. It is the hardest thing to achieve. To boil down the essence of your business into a few words, to convert complicated feelings and complex concepts into a few words is very difficult.

There are essentially three steps to developing a strong mission statement that succinctly tells your customers, employees and all others what you are all about.

Step 1: Brainstorm

Start brainstorming about inner conversations you are having about your business, conversations you are having with your employees, conversations your customers are having with you, in essence, all conversations around the circumstances surrounding your product or service. Harness the power of group brainstorming, they tend to be very productive.

Don’t take shortcuts, this is an important step, and anything and everything might be important. Let it all hang out!


Step 2: Make a collage

In this step, you will move the message from thoughts and words to objects. Take all the words you’ve collected when brainstorming and bring them together on a blank canvas (or white board). Supplement them with quotes relevant to your business. Cut out pictures or sayings that are pertinent. The idea is to get all your thoughts and feelings, and as many as you can get from your team and your customers and to put them physically in the same place (emphasis on physically), visually representing all abstract concepts.

Leave the board alone for a while and come back to it whenever you remember or find something new. This is the stewing process; let it take its time.

Step 3: Translate the collage into an abridged message

Now that you have everything you need visually available to you in the same place, the real work starts. You can start by eliminating duplicates. Next, narrow down your choices by matching questions to answers. Use features that your product or service offers as solutions. Be sure to note any physical objects that pop out – something that your customer can see, smell, touch, and relate to.

Be sure to follow the following guidelines:

  • Keep it simple: The human mind best grasps concepts in a maximum of 7 parts (7 digits, 7 words, etc.) Your verbal message must adhere to this. Your visual message must similarly be easy to grasp and free of clutter. A basic web page with a clean design is the most engaging and pleasing to the eye. Good examples are, Nimble, and 99Designs.
  • Use straight talk: Don’t confuse your customers in a misguided attempt to show off. Your goal is to communicate and engage them in a conversation about your product or service, don’t turn them off by using technical jargon or demonstrating to them about how smart you are. is again a good example at this; they make the scary and highly technical world of finance easy and fun, turning it almost into a game.
  • Go 3-D: When FedEx delivers your package the next day, the FedEx message is physically attached to an important object – your package. You can create the same effect by using meaningful three-dimensional marketing. Make your message memorable, even outrageous. The book Outrageous Marketing has hundreds of creative examples of how you can differentiate your message from your competition (sending season ticket order forms in a box with a dressed up rubber chicken is particularly inspired).
  • Do the unexpected: Use blogs, social media, and events to remain in contact with your customers. But try the unexpected too. Instead of emailing back, occasionally write a personal handwritten note to show your customers that they are important to you. Partner-up with a complementary brand, support a charity your customers care about – be in places that will surprise them and engage their interest.

Don’t get frustrated with your customers because they are not listening; take the responsibility and make sure that they hear you. When you deliver a strong and simple mission statement, they will respond to your message in ways that will surprise you.


How to Turn Your Website Into a Marketing Magnet

If you are like most companies out there selling engineered products and equipments, you probably have already made the smart choice of starting your own website. That’s great, but is it enough? A static catalog that offers just a little information about your industrial or manufacturing products or services is like an untapped resource. It’s like a 2-D movie playing in a 3-D theatre, in other words, a wasted opportunity. The question is why are you squandering this marketing goldmine when a few budget-friendly changes are all that is needed? Isn’t getting (and keeping) customers the most important process for your company?

Your customers want to use your website. Why aren’t they? Lack of want, or need, are not the reasons. You may have inadvertently formatted your website to be more of a corporate presence, better suited to target investors rather than buyers. Most companies think that they don’t have the time to invest in optimizing their website, or think that their product is too technical to be fully marketable on the internet. But ignoring this readily available (read cheap) asset is a mistake you can no longer afford to make.

Consider implementing these four simple steps and you will be well on your way to harnessing the potential of the internet, the most versatile marketing medium available today.

Step 1: Review your marketing goals and set up your parameters

What is the function of your website? The answer is simple: to attract potential customers and keep your existing customers interested in your products and services. Before you make over your website, you need to decide up front on a few key marketing issues, such as:

  • How many visitors do you want to attract? How many of those visitors do you want to convert into leads and ultimately customers? These projections are necessary to set up your marketing goals, and therefore, your budget.
  • How is your website doing now? What is your traffic like? Who are your current visitors? If you don’t have this info, you’ll need to set up Google Analytics on your website so you can get a baseline for what it is currently doing. This in turn will help you make appropriate decisions to the needed improvements to your existing data.
  • What kind of web platform do you need? Consider an open-sourced and customizable web software like WordPress. It’s free and very popular with bloggers. If you don’t want to deal with the technicalities in-house, there are literally thousands of WordPress designers who can create any kind of site you desire. Best of all, it’s easily optimized for search engines.

Step 2: Start with small changes that have the maximum impact

  • Buy keyword rich domains names:  It’s surprising how many manufacturers own and have trademarked their company name but don’t own the domains to the widgets they produce. What product do you manufacture and for what industry? Make a list of all the keywords used in your manufacturing field and check if their equivalent domains are available, then buy as many as your budget allows. You do not have to maintain a multitude of websites; you can simply roll the domains to your main website and have all traffic directed at these keyword-rich domains funneled to yours.
  • Speak directly to your target audience: Highly technical information may not be the best way to greet your potential customers. Unlike B2B sites which focus on the company and the product they provide, focus yours on the customer and the problem you are helping them solve. Creating headlines that focus on the people who will be landing on your website, and speaking to them in the simplest language possible, helps ensure that they are engaged and motivated to continue exploring your website.
  • Maximize each visit: After all the work you’ve done to get them there, don’t let your visitors leave without capturing their information. A very easy way to do this is to use a lead generation form. Give your visitors information for which they will happily give out their email or contact information, for example highly valued downloads like ebooks, ecourses, or newsletters. Place your lead generation fold above the fold and use catchy phrases like “GET YOUR FREE EBOOK”.


Step 3: Add more substantive content to your website

  • Write a blog: Don’t let the name fool you, blog articles and posts are simply advertisements and educational advertising pieces that answer the question “Why should you buy my stuff instead of the other guy’s?” in a more reader friendly form.  Write articles with headlines such as “HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST WIDGET” or “10 TELL-TALE SIGNS THAT IT’S TIME TO REPLACE YOUR WIDGET”. Your blog will help you showcase how you have solved common problems in your industry, and specific attributes about your products or services that illustrate your brand’s competitive advantage over your competition.
  • Create an online video: If a picture paints a thousand words, videos speak volumes. This makes them very powerful marketing and educational tools. Create videos that demonstrate your product but from the customer’s perspective; they will help you feature your products while simultaneously addressing common frustrations experienced by your customers so that you can show them exactly how your products solve them.  A portable HD camera such as a Kodak Zi8 has the right quality fit for the web.
  • Create online guides: Similar in concept to that of a blog or a video, an online guide is just another way to showcase your technological edge over your competition. Because online guides are keyword-rich documents, they serve the triple purpose of SEO optimization, substantive content, and advertisement, all in one 3,000 word document. Fill your guide with tips, ideas, recommendations, and resources that will make your buyers’ life easier and they will thank you for it.


Step 4: Dress up your website with discrete professional and aesthetic touches

  • Get high quality logo and graphics: Your website should feature a clearly visible logo or your company name so that your visitors know exactly where they are within a few seconds. The preferred location is in the upper left hand corner, because people read their computer screens from left to right. Having a high quality logo graphic to complement your company name adds a professional touch to your website, as well as keeping it aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
  • Create a favicon: A small graphic touch that pays back hugely in brand recognition is the little it-thing called favicon. It’s that little graphic icon that appears next to the URL when you bookmark a page. The small but effective favicon will set you apart from other sites who are not using them; it will be like your website is wearing a tie – it’s not necessary, but it will show the world that you are serious about your company’s image.
  • Add pictures: To give your website the extra oomph as well as maximize space usage, consider using customized backgrounds that display key features or distinctive (read: the sexy) attributes of your product. The idea is not to fill up every spare inch with clutter, but to subtly, contextually, imprint your product and your brand visually on your visitors. If your design format allows, consider running a video of perhaps customer testimonies or interviews.


The idea is to keep it simple, keep it succinct, but keep it interesting. Then step back and watch your website turn into a new customer generating magnet!


Another Way of Looking at “DIY Research”

There has been quite a lot of conflicting conversation around what DIY Research is and isn’t .  Here is an article written by Dana Stanley over at Research Access that gets into the nitty gritty of the subject.

In my view, the distinction between “DIY research” and “assisted research,” as it were, is no longer as relevant as it once was.

Evolving technology has enabled a sharp increase in the number of options for researchers to “do it themselves” (including technology provided by the sponsor of this blog, Survey Analytics).

Some feel DIY is a scourge, enabling a tsunami of poorly-conceived and poorly-executed research and taking business away from market research consultants.  A few examples of skepticism about DIY research can be found in this blog post by Sean Jordan of the Research & Planning Group, and in this blog post by David Bakken of KJT Group.

Others feel it is a good development, the inevitable hand of progress and customer empowerment.  This post by Steve Quirk and this article on the MRA blog by Kathryn Korostoff are emblematic of the pro-DIY point of view.

I agree with those who feel it’s a positive development.  Enabling customers to make choices is a very good thing; in fact, there can be no other way.  Thanks to the internet and technology, we are in a new age of customer empowerment.  Some form of DIY is an inevitability in nearly every industry.

The reality is that the market is speaking.

In-house corporate researchers, who in many cases have supplier-side experience by the way, increasingly see value in tools that enable them to conduct projects without necessarily needing to hire a research consultant.

Those who misuse DIY research will fail just as do those who misuse assisted research.  Isn’t that just Adam Smith’s invisible hand at work?

There will always be an important role for trained research consultants.  Smart companies know when to bring them in and when they are superfluous.

DIY research doesn’t merit being called its own separate type of research (as the name implies).  Rather, it’s a toolset within market research – a toolset whose commonality is not requiring an outside consultant.

Right now the term is being used to divide the industry rather than unite it.  Survey Analytics CEO Vivek Bhaskaran described the term “DIY research” in another Research Access post as “a term the full service market research industry has coined [that] implies – less than professional.”  This reminds me of how in the States prominent Republican politicians often refer to the opposition party as the “Democrat Party” rather than its actual name, the “Democratic Party” because of the positive connotations with the word “democratic.”

Words matter, so let’s start referring to the former “DIY research” in a more considered way.

Feel free to give your suggestions for terminology in the comments section below.