Copy tips 005: Extricating feedback

Your customers' feedback can be hugely valuable – but it's not always easy to get. Follow these tips to smooth the process

 Copy tips 005: Extricating feedback

One of the most thankless tasks in marketing copywriting is the request for user feedback or opinion. You might be trying to elicit feedback from customers on a recent purchase, or looking for respondents to a survey. Either way, it’s hard to escape the inevitable feeling that you are effectively asking people to give you something for nothing.

The responses may help you put together a PR-able white paper or improve your processes, but on the face of it, there’s little obvious benefit to the user. Even the chance of winning an iPod may seem like a hollow promise to a time-poor user who has to spend time fighting their way through a clunky online form.

Here’s how you can get more people to give feedback:

  • Don’t overdo the tone of voice. Some well-known consumer brands try to send feedback requests that are especially cheeky, coy or playful. But if all you’re doing is trying to sugar-coat a request for a task, users are likely to see through this.
  • Be realistic about how long it will take. No one believes survey requests that say ‘this will just take a few moments’ – far better to be realistic and say: ‘we estimate it will take 10-12 minutes to complete this form’. People are more likely to respect your candour
  • Don’t ask for more than you need. It’s always tempting to maximise the opportunity of a user interaction to harvest all the useful marketing data you possibly can. But with every field you add, you reduce the chances of someone actually starting – let alone completing – the form.
  • Make it easy. Do everything you can to make the survey completion process as easy as possible – and present it in as scannable and intuitive a way as possible. Regardless of whether the process is actually easy, people are much more likely to complete a process if at the outset they perceive it as easy.
  • Be specific about how you’ll use the feedback. A client of ours, with a strong record of testing and optimising micro-content, reports that the most successful feedback requests include an explanation of how the input will be used. For example: ‘Your feedback will be shared with our client services team, and have a direct impact on how we plan and deliver our services in the future.’ This makes users feel that their complaint or suggestion might actually get heard.
  • Show what feedback has achieved before.  Building on the last point, you could include an example of how previous feedback has helped change the way you do things. Try it in the form of a testimonial or brief anecdote.