Conversion Rate Optimization

How to Survey your Customers and Increase the Sales of your Online Boutique?

This is in continuation to our previous post about data gathering, in which I shared with you how fresh startups can use Social Media to know their target customers well enough. With this post, let’s go a step further and talk about the second method – surveys. I want to talk about surveys because I see almost all online boutiques using them to collect data, but only few are actually gathering ‘actionable intelligence’. By ‘actionable intelligence’, I mean the data which can be used to increase the conversion rate of your website by improving the:

  • the usability experience of your website
  • the brand experience of your website

Since, surveying customers is the first thing we do for our clients as part of our conversion rate optimization consulting. We know what works and what doesn’t when designing survey questionnaire for online boutiques. But before I tell you exactly which questions you must ask, let me talk about some common mistakes: 

Common Surveying Mistakes

1) Not knowing the objective

Often retailers collect data just for sake of collecting daa, and don’t have a clear end objective in mind, as in why they want this data or what they’re going to do with it. They gather much data and never use it. It happens because they don’t plan the survey.  Here is how you can plan your survey better.

Before asking your customers a single question, ask ‘yourself’ these 4 questions:

  • What do I want to know?
  • What will I really do with the collected data?
  • Who would be most qualified to answer? (and who wouldn’t)
  • How much data do I need to draw some sort of conclusion?

If you can answer these questions clearly before you design the survey, your customers will spill the beans.

2) Asking questions to unqualified people

I have seen many retailers surveying all their website visitors…just about anyone landing on their website. It’s a bad idea because broadly speaking – less than 50% people landing on your store will be your target customers. The remaining are unqualified visitors. Asking them questions can only skew your data and lead your business into a wrong direction.

What do I mean by unqualified visitors? Well, they may be school or college going students, tire kickers, researchers, competitors, foreigners, employees, spammers or online wanderers.

For example, if you’re selling evening dresses, there is no point asking a school or college going student about what will make her buy. Inevitably she would say – “lower price”. Does it mean your products are expensive? Maybe yes, but her opinion doesn’t matter. Students rarely have money to spend on an evening dress. You need to ask this question to a qualified person, someone who actually falls in your target customer group.

3) Asking objective questions

I have seen how much managers love making those fancy bar diagrams. They force the user to select from predetermined options so that they can create those diagrams in their presentation and impress everyone. While asking objective questions does make reporting easy to understand, but the data collected is often narrow, inconclusive and useless.

Don’t be that manager. Ask the question and let them type it out.. word by word. Don’t give them options. For example, if you’re asking them – “Where exactly did you first hear about us?” Don’t give them options, such as Magazine, Google, etc. Let them tell you.. a friend, a youtube channel, an agency, an online magazine, etc.

Yes there will be many impractical and useless advices. Ignore them and look for the gems. If you let them write, they will surprise you with their intelligence, showing you possibilities that you never thought of before. So, don’t put your words in your customer’s mouth, let them say it.

Who to Survey?

Like I said, what you’re asking is equally important as whom you’re asking. If you want to gather data which can help you in increasing your online boutique’s conversion rate, here are the two kind of people you should be speaking with:

1) The customers who’ve ‘just’ bought

Instead of surveying your website visitors, focus on collecting data from your customers who bought from you just moments ago. I like to think of them as your surviving heroes. They overcame all the hurdles in their way and made it to the finishing line to tell us their story. Ask them about their story, about their experiences and challenges. And they will be happy when you do so, because it tells them that you care for them and value them as a customer.

But remember, timing is everything if you want a high response rate. The best time to survey them is right after they complete the purchase. You can either embed the survey on the thank you page or you can email the survey link in the autoresponder email, right after the order confirmation email.

2) Cart Abandoners – the ones who entered the checkout page but didn’t buy

The other kind of customers you should target are the cart abandoners, the ones who exit your website after adding a product to their cart, without completing the purchase. After sending them couple of reminder emails to complete their purchase, send them a survey link. Ask them what stopped them from completing the purchase.

The Questions

Now, let me share the 4 surveys questions that you should ask your customers, if you want to gather actionable data to improve your website’s conversion rate and sales.

  1. Where exactly did you first hear about <your brand name>?
    This will help you know which exact marketing channels (magazines, social media, word of mouth, friends, professional network) are sending you the most targeted traffic. Spend more time and effort on that channel.
  2. What was that one thing nearly stopped you from buying from us?
    Do you want to know what’s keeping your customers from buying on your online store? Asking this question will give you insights into the usability related issues on your website and other mental roadblocks, that are potentially causing your customers to leave your website without buying. This question will also provide you data to write high converting sales copies, brand narrative and product descriptions, by addressing the biggest customer objections in your marketing communication. 
  3. What persuaded you to purchase from <your brand name>?
    As much as it’s important to know what IS NOT working, it’s equally important to know what IS working. This question will give you information about what your customers want and what will persuade them into buying from you. Ask this question just moments after they complete the purchase and you will know the key emotional triggers that are making them buy. Use the collected data to optimize the critical touch points of your website & marketing communication, and you can convert more visitors into customers.   
  4. Which other options did you consider (both online & offline) before choosing <your brand name>?
    You may think that you know your competitors but your customers may surprise you with their answers. With this question, you will know exactly in which class your customers think your brand stands. This will also give you valuable information related to what’s giving you an edge over your competitors and also what’s making you lose your customers to them.

You should ask the above questions to your customers, right after they complete the purchase on the order thank you page (you can use Qualaroo) or include these questions in your ‘mini’ survey which you can send via. MailChimp & SurveyMonkey.

Surveys are powerful business tools to collect data to grow your business. If used right, they are the guiding light of your business, telling you exactly where you need to go. Hope this post helps you in designing more intelligent surveys for your online fashion store; and you use the intelligence to grow your business.

Is there any question I missed? Feel free to share your ideas and tips about ecommerce surveying in the comment section below.

Image: Deathtostockphoto

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