This post comes from guest writer Jennifer Snyder, whose career has been forged around embracing and supporting community.
Regardless of what type of business you have or the types of content you create, those who buy your products, sign up for your services, and read what you write are important. Here at Winning Edits, we see everyone who interacts with your business in any way as a valuable member of your community.
Building and nurturing a community is largely based on how you can help your target audience, but asking your community for feedback is a great way to not only understand their needs and better serve them, but also to keep that audience engaged in your process.
Sometimes you simply want to know how many people have used a product, where a customer heard about your work, or what your audience wants to see next from you. It’s incredibly important to check in occasionally to see how your community interacts with your work.
The Set-Up: If you’re looking to collect data for analytical purposes, we highly recommend Typeform (check out ours here) due to its beautiful and easy to use interface. With Typeform, you can set up simple or complex surveys, analyze that data as it comes in, and create reports that can help you move your business forward.
The Ask: When it comes to requesting this type of feedback, we always recommend using every medium at your disposal. If you’ve got social media accounts set up, be sure to push your survey out to those community members. Email newsletter lists are full of community members who have opted in to your work and are a perfect place to let your audience know you want to hear from them. You can also integrate Typeform surveys directly into your website!
Reviews and testimonials are powerful. Positive reviews can be used to help with marketing your products or services, and are crucial when it comes to understanding what your community loves about your work. Believe it or not, negative reviews are also helpful! A bad review can help you understand where improvement might be needed. Additionally, the community member sharing a negative review is offering you an opportunity to make it right through stellar customer service.
The Set-Up: You can absolutely include space for reviews or testimonials in the Typeform survey discussed above, but oftentimes reviews are part of a third-party website like Amazon, iTunes, Yelp, and so on. It’s easy to feel as though you don’t have control over reviews on those third-party websites, but we always like to think about how those tools can work for us, rather than against us. Most of the larger third-party review sites run on algorithms that help the user (your community member in this case) find related items or content they will enjoy. When your community leaves reviews on these websites, they are telling the algorithms that your business or content is noteworthy!
The Ask: If the goal is to include your request for testimonials or reviews in the Typeform survey mentioned above, simply send the full survey out through all of your marketing channels. However, if you’d like to ask you community to leave a review or testimonial on a third-party website, we always recommend asking them to do so at the end of some sort of transaction. For example, if you’re recording a podcast episode, make sure you ask your listeners to leave a review on iTunes. If your new ebook is on Amazon, don’t forget to include a link in the back matter that will lead readers to a review page.
While getting feedback in an effort to improve your business is critical, we also advocate for engaging your audience in ways that don’t directly relate to your bottom line. Asking your community members questions about things that relate—in a peripheral sense—to whatever it is you do is a great way to get to know your audience on another level.
The Set-Up: While social media can often feel like a waste of time, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are perfect for this type of engagement. The good news is that you don’t have to have trillions of followers to start engaging with your community in this way. Even one in-depth comment thread with a client, reader, or customer is valuable when it comes to building and maintaining a solid community.
The Ask: This can be the tricky part. You want to make sure you’re asking questions that make sense for your specific audience. For example, if you have an online shop that sells tennis shoes, it wouldn’t necessarily make sense to ask whether your community members have a favorite ride at Disneyland. However, it might be fun to show off those tennis shoes in the wild and ask the community to share their favorite running or walking trails where they live. This type of engagement lets your community know you care about how, why, when, and where they might use your product and who knows—you might gain valuable insight that you can use to further your work!
From brick and mortar businesses and ecommerce sites to service-based businesses and personal brands, every successful entrepreneur takes the time to understand those who purchase or interact with their work. Collecting information and engaging your community is just one way to make sure you’re meeting the needs of those who support your work, creating the goods or services your audience is looking for, and positioning your business as a brand that cares.
Now it’s our turn to ask for feedback: what are your favorite ways to collect feedback from your community and engage your audience members? Let’s chat about it in the comment section below!