How many times have you executed a marketing campaign without making a single change to the strategy along the way? Chances are you can count those times on one hand.
Why? Because a good strategy is flexible, and marketing today requires us to constantly pivot.
Marketing, especially online, changes so quickly that a plan without flexibility built-in is a plan destined to fail. A marketing strategy can’t exist in a vacuum. It needs constant feedback to adapt and stay relevant to the target audience.
So how do you know when a marketing strategy needs to pivot? In this post I’ll show you how to develop feedback loops in your content marketing, give you examples of feedback loops, and show you how to implement them.
Feedback loops are most commonly used in email marketing. For example, when a large number of people click the Mark As Spam button, email marketers are notified they’re getting too aggressive.
In this context, a feedback loop is real-time info from a marketing campaign that gives you insights straight from your audience.
I don’t remember where I heard it first, but there’s a quote that’s worth mentioning here: You are not your target audience. Thinking otherwise is a common mistake, but feedback can help you determine who your target audience really is.
Feedback loops can be used two ways: reactively to solve problems or proactively to prevent them. Either way, you should never stop.
I call them feedback loops instead of just feedback because they’re not a single campaign. Feedback loops are built into your marketing for you to use over and over.
You can create these loops wherever there’s a conversion or transaction. Here are a few examples of feedback loops you can easily implement in your company.
Introduction Emails for New Subscribers
Introduction emails are an excellent way to get feedback from new customers. Simply create an autoresponder that triggers an email once a user has subscribed.
Welcome them to your list, let them know what to expect, and most importantly, ask them a question that will give you insight into what you can improve. One of my favorites is, “What are the biggest challenges you are facing?” It’s an easy question for them to answer and it helps me keep my content relevant.
Questions At the End of Your Blog Posts
This is extremely easy to implement and very helpful for gauging how content resonates with your audience. Simply ask a conversational question: “What did you like most about the post?” or “What am I missing?”
You can also use this strategy on social media. People might not be as honest when they are writing in public, but don’t discount the insights they can still provide.
Surveys are probably the most popular type of feedback and if you do them right, they can be a gold mine of insights. One of the best ways to use surveys is targeting users who have been subscribers long enough to get to know you. Here’s a great example from the folks at GetVero:
Another great time to use a survey is right after you finish a campaign. It’s best to get feedback while it’s still fresh in people’s minds. We did this after a recent book launch and it gave us excellent feedback into what kind of content our community was looking for.
Here’s another example from Derek Halpern after one of his product launches. (Notice how he uses a little guilt to get you to respond AND a peak into what’s coming up to keep you interested.)
You can even build feedback loops into your invoicing process. Software companies like FreshBooks now allow you to include a request for a review with an invoice every 6 months.
If you’re trying to get honest feedback about improvements you can make, don’t beat around the bush. Check out this excellent example from Follow that comes right out and invites you to complain to them. It’s a really smart approach because they would rather have people complaining to them by email than on social media.
If you’ve decided it’s time to implement a feedback loop, don’t worry, it’s easy to get started. Start small with one automated feedback loop, like a triggered email autoresponder.
And don’t get paralyzed by trying to find the right question to ask. Start backwards and look at your problems and/or your goals. Then, make a list of the questions you need to ask to meet those goals and add them into your marketing process!
One final word, you’ll always find new ways to improve your feedback loops, so don’t be afraid to start with something that’s not perfect. You can always makes changes later on.
So, here’s my feedback question for you: What feedback question would help your business the most? Let me know in the comments!
Joel Widmer is the Founder & CEO of Fluxe Digital Marketing—a content marketing shop that helps smart businesses create, produce and promote their content through a unique one-on-one interview process. When he’s not working, Joel can be found trying new restaurants with his wife and son.