From an article originally posted at TechInAsia:
Faced with this challenge, you may talk to consultants and business experts who will tell you that it’s important to maintain a corporate blog with frequent updates. Plus, they’ll tell you to engage your customers and fans on social media. This kind of advice, while helpful at its core, is kind of like telling your newly single friend to “Cheer up.” The end goal of engagement is correct, you need a solid plan maximize how you’re using social media to promote your business.
There is some good advice in here and the entire thing is suggested reading. Some caveats that we have noticed, from our experience in the field:
- Overall, surveys are a good idea and do not dismiss them out-of-hand. However, we have found that surveys where you specifically ask people about their own behavior are notoriously unreliable. It’s not that people are dishonest, they’re just not good at reporting how they actually behave. We have seen many many cases where people reported one thing about their own behavior, but the empirical data told an entirely different story.
- Tangentially related to the above point: We are also skeptical of “focus group” type questions where you ask people “Would you buy X if it had Feature Y?” Again, the fact is that people just aren’t good at reporting this about themselves. Henry Ford observed this phenomenon well when he said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
- If a survey about something other than behavior is not an option, use other data that you can collect empirically. Wondering what customers really see first on your website? Check your eye-tracking software. Have two ideas for call-to-action text and want to know which one drives more people through the sales funnel? Start A/B testing. There are more ways now than ever to get real data about customer behavior instead of being in the dark.
…And as always, when you need professional help with any of the above, drop us a line!