Listen Online

One of the most important things we do as communicators is listen to our audiences. Listening is how we come to understand their needs and communication preferences.

Even if you are not heavily invested in social media, if you have a web site and email, you have many ways to listen.

E-newsletter and other sign ups. If your website offers the opportunity to sign up for a mailing list, e-newsletter, etc., the number of subscribers tells you if you are people want what you are offering. If you do a campaign to generate registrations, then a pike in your subscribers tells you that your campaign is having the desired effect. No response tells you it is time to reevaluate your offering and the relevance to the audience(s) you want to reach.

Your in box.The in box of any email address offered on your web site, customer service materials, etc should be monitored and tracked. If you invite your customers and audiences to reach you by email, how you respond (or don’t respond) becomes an important relationship touch point.

Any email address that is used by your audiences must be monitored, even during vacations and company holidays. All valid messages should be answered.

One way to manage high-volume inboxes is to use an auto response to acknowledge the message and provide the standard time frame for a response. Another is to have a bank of responses to typical questions that can be quickly customized in response.

In addition to responding, track the volume of messages and the topics they address. This tells you want it on the mind of your audiences. Their questions tell you what you need to communicate.

Inactivity. Pay attention to the responses to any calls to action in your communication. If you tell people to email you to request a brochure, how many do so? If you website says call to register, how many people do so? Etc. If your target audience is responding to the call for action, your efforts are on target. If not, your message or the method of action are off course.

“Unwanted” complaints. How often do you hear that you are “spamming” receivers with your emails? Cluttering their mailboxes? Interrupting them with phone calls? These are all signs that your communication is annoying–rather than reaching–your audience. Pay attention. Make adjustments.

On social networks. Blogs (your own or other sources), on Twitter and anywhere else digital subscribers gather to vent their opinions serve as the modern day back fence. Know what your audiences are saying about you in these outlets. Google and Twitter allow you to create alerts for your company name and see when people are talking about you. Listen and learn.