I’m compelled to add this coda to the C.P.A. series because there’s some breaking news that pertains to what was one of my favorite listening tools. In Part I we covered the fact that key to writing a post folks will want to read is first finding out what folks want to hear! One of those tools, sadly, just kicked the proverbial bucket. Yet I’ve also discovered a host of new tools that may be extremely useful to you in your research. Yup, the universe taketh away; the universe giveth.
Alas, we no longer have the “Answers” feature on LinkedIn to use as a research tool. I’d shared with you on my recent webinar and in my recent blog posts regarding how useful this tool could be for (1) researching constituent needs/desires, and (2) connecting with prospective constituents and luring them to your site. Sadly, I must point you to the 1-19-13 online article from Social Media Today that describes how LinkedIn Removes its Best Feature. As of January 31st, 2013, this feature will officially be dead.
Oh, well. LinkedIn is not the only place to crowd source questions and answers. We still have Yahoo Q&A and Quora to use for similar purposes (and to which I also referred in my talk). Here’s a link to a useful article in case Quora is new to you: Are You in a Quandary Over Quora? Don’t be.
Plus, there are many other ways to get quality constituent feedback. As was discussed in Part I, a survey is perhaps the most direct way to learn what your peeps want from you. I mentioned services like Qualaroo, Survey Monkey and Google Docs For four additional tools, check out this recent article from the folks at CauseVox about How to Get Feedback from your Supporters. They highlight:
- Wufoo, an online platform that easily enables survey creation and information collection/analysis. You can embed links to the survey in your email, social media or website/blog.
- Formstack, another good survey creator.
- Facebook polls, using a variety of apps that let you poll your fans on your Facebook page, thereby taking advantage of the fact that you’re tapping into a pre-existing community.
- Good old-fashioned phone calls, allowing you to put a personal touch on your request for feedback and opening the door to more qualitative responses (they suggest holding a phonathon with staff after an event to solicit feedback while it’s still fresh in your supporters’ minds). Of course, there’s no purpose in doing this if you’re not prepared to record the information someplace where it can be easily accessed and actually used!
- Gold standard in-person meetings, permitting insights you might not get with a poll or survey. Plus, these meetings are invaluable for building donor relationships. Invaluable! Just make sure you put in place a system to capture the information gained at these meetings. It’s so great that your staff, board members and volunteers are out there cultivating and stewarding folks on your behalf. But if what they learn stays trapped in their brains, it’s of little use to you. So schedule regular debriefing sessions. Better yet, establish protocols – a culture of feedback — that get folks into the habit of reporting back to you.
— Chip Bell, author, customer loyalty consultant
IMPORTANT: There’s a lot of information coming your way. That’s nice. But until you turn it into wisdom – and then turn that wisdom into action — that’s all it is. Nice. Just like when you were in school, in order to learn a subject you’ve got to study it. And that generally means getting organized. So, don’t forget these study and organizational tools:
- CRMs: Many of you may have Customer Relations Management (CRM) systems like Salesforce, NetSuite or Highrise. Or you may just have an Excel Spreadsheet. This is, of course, a subject unto itself. But if you’re going to be successful engaging your supporters you must make sure you have a system for capturing and tracking information received both online and offline.
- Donor databases: Most of you have one (and if you don’t, you’re in big trouble), but do you capture information received online? If not, you may want to think about tweaking your system so that you’re able to document all the great feedback you’re receiving. Again, this is a subject unto itself. But as the world increasingly transforms to a digital one it will no longer suffice to simply ‘write off’ the digital data coming your way (and I hear way too many organizations saying “we keep track of our donor data, but we don’t have a way to document online activity”).
- Analytics: Most of the survey platforms mentioned above include analytics tools. Many of you probably already have Google Analytics on your website or blog. Learn how to use these tools.
FINALLY: When you learn something about your constituents, let it teach you something. Then apply what you’ve learned to improve your future constituent engagement. Information is valuable; don’t squander it.
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