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3 Mistakes to Avoid for Better Results from Customer Surveys



3 Mistakes to Avoid for Better Results from Customer Surveys

Have you ever run a customer survey only to be disappointed by the results?

And it wasn’t because the feedback told you something about your brand you didn’t want to hear… but rather, because it didn’t tell you anything at all?

Your hope for the survey was to gain insight on customer behavior. Insight you could use to improve your marketing.

Instead, you feel like the survey was a waste of time.

But here’s the deal—if you’re not listening to your customers, then you’re missing a big opportunity to grow.

Surveys are easy, inexpensive and allow you to capture a goldmine of customer data… if you know how to do them right. Otherwise, they will be a waste of time for you and your customers.

But that’s not an outcome you need to worry about. Because going forward, your surveys will no longer suffer from these 3 mistakes…

Survey Mistake #1: You Haven’t Established a Specific Goal for Your Survey

Don’t just do a survey for the sake of doing a survey. Make sure you assign it a clearly defined purpose.

Messaging strategist Jennifer Havice says “There are countless questions you could ask your prospects and customers. However, the best way to narrow your options is to know your end goal.”

To narrow your questions, ask yourself: What is it you want to learn from your customers?

  • Do you want to create a stronger customer persona?
  • Are you looking for messaging ideas based on your customers’ real language?
  • Do you need to better understand the customer journey?
  • Are you considering changing your offer and you want customer input?
  • Do you need to understand what obstacles are stopping purchases?
  • Would you like to know how your customers feel about your brand?

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No matter the goal for your survey, it’s important that you define a single purpose for it.

If you don’t, your survey efforts will turn into pointless busywork, because you won’t know how to act upon the insight you gain.

So it’s your overall question—the thing you want to find out from your customers—that determines your specific survey questions.

When it comes to choosing those questions, don’t think they all have to be multiple choice. Surveys are an ideal method for capturing both quantitative and qualitative feedback.

In fact, you may want to design a survey that only contains open-ended qualitative questions. Because it’s these responses that give you the deepest, richest insights into what’s going on inside your customers’ heads.

Survey Mistake #2: You Don’t Make Time to Dig Into Lengthy Responses

Make time.

Or don’t. At your (business’s) peril.

It’s the long-form responses that’ll give you valuable details about your customers that guesswork never will.

Rest assured not every response is going to be essay-length. But with time, you’ll start celebrating the ones that are. Because they tend to be the ones packed with compelling stories and unique language that can go directly into your marketing and help boost conversions.

But know that combing through those long responses will be a waste of time if you don’t actually analyze them then act upon them.

What are you analyzing the responses for?

Other than unique language, you’re also looking for common trends and patterns.

For example, imagine several customers mention in their survey responses that they could’ve benefited from a follow-up consultation. Then it’s time to consider adding one to your offer.

Or maybe a few people imply that when they realized you had a corporate background, it boosted their confidence in you. Time to give this feature more weight in your messaging.

Recently, I wrote a new tagline for a client that incorporated a word she was tired of, but it kept showing up in the responses of a survey she had run. I felt strongly it was worth using this word, because it would resonate with her prospects since it was language they were already using.

Overall, the patterns and themes you spot in your surveys can give you a good idea of what will attract more customers and increase customer satisfaction.

And taking the time to figure that out will always be time well spent.

Survey Mistake #3: Your Survey is Boring to Your Customers

If your survey is long, boring, and soulless, your customers won’t bother with your survey. Because they won’t care about it.

It’s your job to make them care.

You do that by making the survey about them and not you.

Because people love to talk about themselves. Research has shown that when people get this opportunity, it triggers the same pleasure sensations in the brain as sex or food.

But, you might be thinking, how will I find out anything useful for my business if my customers’ responses are all about them?

Don’t worry. Your customers are going to give you plenty of insight that will have pay-offs for your business.

It may seem counterintuitive, but you won’t get a rich response to a general question like “How has [product/service] improved your life?”

Alan Klement, product, growth, and go-to-market specialist, explains that questions like these become “very abstract to the customer because they are trying to average together all their experiences in order to give an answer.” Klement goes on to say that the answers you get back from these questions will be average as well.

Instead, ask questions that invite emotional responses, while staying centered on your customer’s experience:

  • How did it make you feel when [specific problem/pain occurred]?
  • Can you describe the moment that you realized you needed [a solution to solve for X]?
  • If there were other people you talked to about your decision to buy [X], what did you say to them?

You might think you need to ask a lot of questions to get useful data.

Not so.

Joanna Wiebe, founder of Copyhackers, captures high-quality customer data with a one-question survey:

“What was going on in your life that brought you to [buy / download/book/choose] [product/service] today?”

The long-form responses to this question will let you in on why your customers chose you (and not your competitors) and what they’re trying to achieve.

That’s right. Just one question and all that priceless insight.

But there’s certainly nothing stopping you from adding another question or two…

You Have Nothing to Lose with Surveys. Done Right.

If you want to grow your revenue, you gotta do customer research. Surveys are a great option.

They’re easy. They make sense for any business at any stage of growth. And they’ll be worth your time… now that you know how to avoid the above 3 mistakes.

Start listening to your customers through surveys. See what a difference it makes.

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(Re)Introducing your favorite Optimizely products!



(Re)Introducing your favorite Optimizely products!

It’s important to us that you, our valued customers and partners, can identify with the tools you use daily.  

In that pursuit, Optimizely set out to simplify the way we talk about our product suite. That starts, first and foremost, with the words we use to refer to the technology.  

So, we’ve taken a hard look at everything in our portfolio, and are thrilled to introduce new names we believe are more practical, more consistent, and better representative of the technology we all know and love.  

You may have seen some of these names initially at Opticon 2022 as well as on our website. In the spirit of transparency, the team here at Optimizely wanted to make sure you had full visibility into the complete list of new names, as well as understand the context (and rationale) behind the changes. 

So, without further ado… 

Which names changed?  

Some, but not all. For your ongoing reference, below is a complete list of Optimizely products, with previous terminology you may be familiar with in the first column, and (if applicable) the new name in the second column.  

Used to be… 

Is now (or is still)… 



Optimizely Digital Experience Platform 

A fully-composable solution designed to support the orchestration, monetization, and experimentation of any type of digital experience — all from a single, open and extensible platform. 

Content Cloud 

Optimizely Content Management System 

A best-in-class system for building dynamic websites and helping digital teams deliver rich, secure and personalized experiences. 


Optimizely Content Marketing Platform 

An industry-leading and user-friendly platform helping marketing teams plan campaigns, collaborate on tasks, and author content. 


Optimizely Digital Asset Management 

A modern storage tool helping teams of any size manage, track, and repurpose marketing and brand assets (with support for all file types). 

Content Recs 

Optimizely Content Recommendations 

AI-powered and real-time recommendations to serve the unique interests of each visitor and personalize every experience. 

B2B Commerce 

Optimizely Configured Commerce 

A templatized and easy-to-deploy platform designed to help manufacturers and distributors drive efficiency, increase revenue and create easy buying experiences that retain customers. 

Commerce Cloud 

Optimizely Customized Commerce 

A complete platform for digital commerce and content management to build dynamic experiences that accelerate revenue and keep customers coming back for more. 


Optimizely Product Information Management 

A dedicated tool to help you set up your product inventory and manage catalogs of any size or scale. 

Product Recs 

Optimizely Product Recommendations 

Machine-learning algorithms optimized for commerce to deliver personalized product recommendations in real-time. 


Optimizely Web Experimentation 

An industry-leading experimentation tool allowing you to run A/B and multi-variant tests on any channel or device with an internet connection. 

Full Stack 

Optimizely Feature Experimentation 

A comprehensive experimentation platform allowing you to manage features, deploy safer tests, and roll out new releases – all in one place. 


Optimizely Personalization 

An add-on to core experimentation products, allowing teams to create/segment audiences based on past behavior and deliver more relevant experiences. 

Program Management 

Optimizely Program Management 

An add-on to core experimentation products, allowing teams to manage the end-to-end lifecycle of an experiment. 


Optimizely Data Platform 

A centralized hub to harmonize data across your digital experience tools, providing one-click integrations, AI-assisted guidance for campaigns, and unified customer profiles. 


So, why the change?  

 It boils down to three guiding principles:  

  1. Uniformity: Create a naming convention that can be applied across the board, for all products, to drive consistency 
  2. Simplicity: Use terms that are both practical and concise, ensuring the names are something that everyone can understand and identify with  
  3. Completeness: Develop a framework that showcases the full and complimentary nature of all the products and solutions within the Optimizely suite 

 As the Optimizely portfolio comes together as a complete, unified platform, it’s important that our names reflect this, as well as support our 3 key solutions (i.e. orchestrate amazing content experiences, monetize every digital experience, and experiment across all touchpoints).  

Other questions? We’ve got you covered. 

Q: Why have you made these product name changes? 

    • We wanted to simplify how we talk about our portfolio. The renaming applies a naming convention that is both practical and concise.  


Q: Do the new product name changes affect the products I own? 

    • No, there is no impact to product functionality or capabilities.  


Q: Do the new product name changes affect who is my Customer Success Manager or Account Manager?  

    • No, there are no changes to your Customer Success Manager or Account Manager. 


Q: Do the new product name changes affect the ownership of the company?  

    • No, ownership of the company has not changed. We have only made changes to the Product Names. 


Q: Have any contact details changed that I need to be aware of?  

    • Only contact details for former Welcome customers has changed. These are the new contact details you should be aware of: Optimizely, Inc.| 119 5th Ave | 7th Floor | New York, NY 10003 USA. Phone: +1 603 594 0249 | 


Q: Where can I send any follow up questions I might have?  

    • If you have any questions about the Product Names, please contact your Customer Success Manager or Account Manager.  

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Email Marketing Trends 2023: Predictions by the Industry Stalwarts



Email Marketing Trends 2023: Predictions by the Industry Stalwarts

Every year, we see new trends entering the world of email marketing.

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5 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve the Content Experience for Readers



5 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve the Content Experience for Readers

Who doesn’t like to have a good experience consuming content?

I know I do. And isn’t that what we – as both a consumer of content and a marketer of content – all want?

What if you create such a good experience that your audience doesn’t even realize it’s an “experience?” Here’s a helpful mish-mash of easy-to-do things to make that possible.

1. Write with an inclusive heart

There’s nothing worse than being in a conversation with someone who constantly talks about themselves. Check your text to see how often you write the words – I, me, we, and us. Now, count how often the word “you” is used. If the first-person uses are disproportionate to the second-person uses, edit to delete many first-person references and add more “you” to the text.

You want to let your audience know they are included in the conversation. I like this tip shared in Take Binary Bias Out of Your Content Conversations by Content Marketing World speaker Ruth Carter: Go through your text and replace exclusionary terms such as he/him and she/her with they/them pronouns.

Go through your text and replace exclusionary terms such as he/him and she/her with they/them pronouns, says @rbcarter via @Brandlovellc @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

2. Make your content shine brighter with an AI assist

Content published online should look different than the research papers and essays you wrote in school. While you should adhere to grammar rules and follow a style guide as best as possible, you also should prioritize readability. That requires scannable and easily digestible text – headings, bulleted text, short sentences, brief paragraphs, etc.

Use a text-polishing aid such as Hemingway Editor (free and paid versions) to cut the dead weight from your writing. Here’s how its color-coded review system works and the improvements to make:

  • Yellow – lengthy, complex sentences, and common errors
    • Fix: Shorten or split sentences.
  • Red – dense and complicated text
    • Fix: Remove hurdles and keep your readers on a simpler path.
  • Pink – lengthy words that could be shortened
    • Fix: Scroll the mouse over the problematic word to identify potential substitutes.
  • Blue – adverbs and weakening phrases
    • Fix: Delete them or find a better way to convey the thought.
  • Green – passive voice
    • Fix: Rewrite for active voice.

Grammarly’s paid version works well, too. The premium version includes an AI-powered writing assistant, readability reports, a plagiarism checker, citation suggestions, and more than 400 additional grammar checks.

In the image below, Grammarly suggests a way to rephrase the sentence from:

“It is not good enough any longer to simply produce content “like a media company would”.


“It is no longer good enough to produce content “as a media company would”.

Much cleaner, right?

3. Ask questions

See what I did with the intro (and here)? I posed questions to try to engage with you. When someone asks a question – even in writing – the person hearing (or reading) it is likely to pause for a split second to consider their answer. The reader’s role changes from a passive participant to an active one. Using this technique also can encourage your readers to interact with the author, maybe in the form of an answer in the comments.

4. Include links

Many content marketers include internal and external links in their text for their SEO value. But you also should add links to help your readers. Consider including links to help a reader who wants to learn more about the topic. You can do this in a couple of ways:

  • You can link the descriptive text in the article to content relevant to those words (as I did in this bullet point)
  • You can list the headlines of related articles as a standalone feature (see the gray box labeled Handpicked Related Content at the end of this article).

Add links to guide readers to more information on a topic – not just for SEO purposes says @Brandlovellc via @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

You also can include on-page links or bookmarks in the beginning (a table of contents, of sorts) in longer pieces to help the reader more quickly access the content they seek to help you learn more about a topic. This helps the reader and keeps visitors on your website longer.

5. Don’t forget the ‘invisible’ text

Alt text is often an afterthought – if you think about it all. Yet, it’s essential to have a great content experience for people who use text-to-speech readers. Though it doesn’t take too much time, I find that customizing the image description content instead of relying on the default technology works better for audience understanding.

First, ask if a listener would miss something if they didn’t have the image explained. If they wouldn’t, the image is decorative and probably doesn’t need alt text. You publish it for aesthetic reasons, such as to break up a text-heavy page. Or it may repeat information already appearing in the text (like I did in the Hemingway and Grammarly examples above).

If the listener would miss out if the image weren’t explained well, it is informative and requires alt text. General guidelines indicate up to 125 characters (including spaces) work best for alt text. That’s a short sentence or two to convey the image’s message. Don’t forget to include punctuation.

General guidelines indicate up to 125 characters (including spaces) work best for alt text, says @Brandlovellc via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

For both decorative and informative images, include the photo credits, permissions, and copyright information, in the caption section.

For example, if I were writing an article about Best Dogs for Families, I would include an image of a mini Bernedoodle as an example because they make great family pets. Let’s use this image of my adorable puppy, Henri, and I’ll show you both a good and bad example of alt text.

An almost useless alt-text version: “An image showing a dog.”

Author’s tri-colored (brown, white, black, grey wavy hair), merle mini Bernedoodle, Henri, lying on green grass.

It wastes valuable characters with the phrase “an image showing.”

Use the available characters for a more descriptive alt text: “Author’s tri-colored (brown, white, black, grey wavy hair), merle mini Bernedoodle, Henri, lying on green grass.”

It’s more descriptive, and I only used 112 characters, including spaces.

Want to learn more? Alexa Heinrich, an award-winning social media strategist, has a helpful article on writing effective image descriptions called The Art of Alt Text. @A11yAwareness on Twitter is also a great resource for accessibility tips.

Improve your content and better the experience

Do any of these suggestions feel too hard to execute? I hope not. They don’t need a bigger budget to execute. They don’t need a lengthy approval process to implement. And they don’t demand much more time in production.

They just need you to remember to execute them the next time you write (and the time after that, and the time after that, and the … well, you get the idea.)

If you have an easy-to-implement tip to improve the content experience, please leave it in the comments. I may include it in a future update.

All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please feel free to add it in the comments.

If you have an idea for an original article you’d like to share with the CMI audience, you could get it published on the site. First, read our blogging guidelines and write or adjust your draft accordingly. Then submit the post for consideration following the process outlined in the guidelines.

In appreciation for guest contributors’ work, we’re offering free registration to one paid event or free enrollment in Content Marketing University to anyone who gets two new posts accepted and published on the CMI site in 2023.


Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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