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Successful marketing is three quarters idea driven, and one quarter research, so the follow are a list of sites which may help you gain feedback on that redesign, or assertain with some degree of certainity of your new websites’ potential success. They may also help you in closing the feedback loop, and working out what direction to take a potential product.
Following on from yesterday’s post – social feedback sites, have enabled larger brands such as Dell to innovate further by using direct customer opinion. Their ideastorm site helped to kick start the Ubuntu availability on client machines. Ubuntu themselves actively engage in brainstorming to help drive product development. So how can you utilise this sort of brainstorming for your own website or product?
I’ve blogged before about shop floor thinking internally in an organisation – the same too came be applied to your website visitors.
Using Google Adwords
If a simple survey will satisfy your curiousity about your product, then you could do worse than setting up a custom adwords campaign.
Here’s the concept. You are looking to target 18-25 year olds in Ireland (only). They will be currently unemployed, and you want to find out why. Google provides geo-targetting by default in its Adwords interface, so that is the geographic location sorted. To tempt your target audience in, you’ll have to come up with creative adcopy, and offer an incentive. For example:
You could of course, do this for any niche. If you want to find out what motivates people, you have to go fishing for the real answers. You can use something like surveymonkey or other form processing software to quickly setup your survey, link it to your ad, and away you go. You could of course just test and see if bidding on certain keywords is enough to get a response, and the beauty is that you pay a minimal fee to get in front of your audience. I posted yesterday on a few survey tips you can use to help increase response.
Uservoice nailed it, when they realised in order to get participation, they would have to go down the widget road. Whilst others went off and built community on their own sites, and hoped that users would visit, uservoice realised the power of keeping the feedback happening on the sites that signed up to them. You’ll be hard pushed to be an active internet user without seeing the familar tab of “feedback”. Better still, that it encourages interaction with a curiousity-killed-the-cat approach – the tab itself, almost goading you into clicking, just to see what it provides.
The service itself is easy to signup to, and you can easily embed it on your site. The free offering allows for 500 votes per month, if your traffic is exceeding that, you may have to go for one of the paid options. However if you are an open source organisation, they do offer discounts and special pricing if you qualify.
Built on top of the Drupal platform (mentioned in our list of open source CMS options), Ideatorrent is used actively on a couple of major websites. It is the system of choice for major brands such as Ubuntu (mentioned earlier) and the BBC BackStage.
It is what can be defined as an “open innovation software” as it lets people submit their ideas, brainstorm & further develop them, then vote on them. The most popular ideas and requests float to the top – a feature that runs deep in many of the social voting applications. It is licensed under the GNU General Public License, and provided you have the technical skills, is relatively easy to setup and get going. The system is hosted on your own server, so it may suit some, who require full control over the integration.
Kampyle offer two distinctive products for closing the feedback loop. Their website product as you would expect is geared specifically towards webmasters, and their software feedback tool at the software development community. Both tools utilise web forms to collect data, but are implemented slightly differently.
The Kampyle Service for software developers was developed in order to understand why users are abandoning your software installation process and why users uninstall. Unlike the website feedback service, this product is not free, but may be of use to developers looking to gain insight into user trends. You’ll probably have come across something similar whilst uninstalling software on a Windows platform at some stage.
Once you have installed the Kampyle system on your site, a new button appears for your visitors to offer feedback through. (A triangle in the bottom right of your screen). This is almost as unobtrusive as something like uservoice is, but can you complain for a service that essentially is completely free? Some of the features they offer, includes exporting feedback data, notifying users when an issue has been resolved, and a complete graph based dashboard allowing you to easily analyse your feedback data.
Whilst some of the other offerings mentioned above are embeddable in your site -Fevote takes the alternative approach. The site allows you to both create new suggestion boards and contribute to existing ones. I’m guessing that this marketing / product strategy allows them to build up a significant amount of content quickly, and thus plays towards a user generated content approach.
Anyway, from what I could assertain, the communities alive and kicking with suggestions for major products such as Google Reader and the Apple iPhone. The registration process for Fevote, is both simple and elegant, which I have to commend them on. Far too many applications in this day and age overcomplicate registration, which lowers the overall likelyhood of user participation. Once you are logged in, you can simple vote up and down the suggestions and comment on other peoples.
For many people it will offer an easy way to garner feedback on their site, without the overhead of managing a dedicated web forum.
Ideascale is another hosted crowdsourcing app that gives you feedback direct via its own website. Developed by Survey Analytics, a web applications company who have created a wide range of other pieces of software, including web polls, email marketing and feedback gathering software.
Survey Analytics offer both free and commercial versions of the application, with varying features. Ideascale’s interface and site design are a good bit ahead of some of the others visually and compared to something like Fevote – it really shines. It also comes complete with powerful integration tools right out of the box such as: iPhone support, wiki support, and Twitter/Facebook integration, which puts it that bit further ahead than some of it’s competition.
One of the main features that caught my eye was the ability to customise the solution to match your website look and feel. This is important if you plan on linking off to a site such as this, as it will give the system users the brand trust and reassurance that you have already built up on your own website.
Intridea have released many innovative products in the past couple of years. Namely, Presently (micro-blogging for the enterprise), white label social networking application SocialSpring, and obviously Crowdsound.
Going back to the idea that it is easier to gain traction by keeping the feedback on the users website, crowdsound utilises a widget based approach to feedback. The free version offers a good subset of features, and is easily integrated into any website. The only thing you need to be careful about is the moderation of suggestions. If your visitors are likely to start spamming you, or swearing, then you will probably have to invest in one of the paid for plans.
The widget based approach offers an instant, and interactive way to gain feedback quickly and easily, as opposed to some of the popup options, it is just “there”. This takes away the extra click that may discourage feedback from some users.
Out of all the applications reviewed, get satisfaction is probably the one to beat, and has gained the most respect and recognition within the web community. Major brands such as Dell, Twitter, Apple, Google and the BBC are an active part of the site, and utilise with the same sort of adoption as they do with the likes of Twitter. It is definitely a start up which has taken off in a big way over the past couple of years. Mainly due to its approach to getting employees involved in the community.
Whilst other crowdsourcing application tend to concentrate on adoption by end users, get satisfaction have realised that the true value is to get the employees of the major companies on board, and you can choose to register as either an employee or a standard issue user.
The result is an application which many are utilising to bug test, and achieve public opinion through for the next version of their application. Got a problem with a web application? Chances are it’s listed at Get Satisfaction already, with either a potential workaround or a pending bug fix – direct from the engineers and developers who have created it. For this reason, its definitely one to examine closely as a part of your customer feedback strategy.