Recently I got a fantastic followup email from a service I had signed up for online:
This is amazing. It’s short, it’s to the point and it’s dead easy for the user. It’s even personalized! For the product manager at TimeBridge (or whoever is filling that role – it’s a startup) you get great data.
What’s even more amazing is that this is the first time I’ve ever gotten an email like this. This technology is dead easy, though I may be biased by having worked at an email marketing company in the past. Personalization is trivial. And online surveys are not really cutting-edge any more. But very few people do it. While doing this kind of survey certainly isn’t free, the best data never is. Real data that leads to real insights costs money. That money may be spent as PM time, travel costs, phone costs, conference fees or whatever, but very little worth having comes for free. The smart thing to do is to try to maximize your return on investment by gathering very tactical pieces of data that will have maximum impact on your product development process.
As far as I can tell, TimeBridge is using RightNow to power this email, but any decent email service provider should be able to enable the same sort of functionality in conjunction with your web analytics tools. And if your email marketing software isn’t integrated with your web analytics tools, get with the program – are you running a real lead generation effort or just throwing money around and hoping leads show up? Even if it took a week and several thousand dollars to set up this kind of feedback mechanism for your product, what would it give back in terms of actionable insight and hard data for your product planning process?