The Web has always been a great way to get information to your target audience but Web sites often require a dedicated Web resource or money to outsource changes that must be made to them, and keeping things updated can be a challenge. Despite these obstacles it is possible—even easy—to interact online with your customers.

Here are some examples of real ideas that have met with great success. They will allow you to be more nimble in marketing campaigns and communicate more regularly with prospects and customers in a fashion that they were comfortable with—the Web.

Surveys

Conducting a survey of your customers or prospects is a must to find out what they like and what they may want to change about your services or product. Your thoughts may wander toward expensive focus groups or hiring people to make phone calls. But with the advent of quick online surveys, both the ease of implementing these surveys and the response rates have improved dramatically.

There are many Web-based services that offer custom-built surveys to capture valuable information from your current and potential users. These are typically easy to set up and relatively inexpensive (some only charge you when a contact responds to your survey), and they track results for you. Because it is so convenient for people to provide feedback, I have seen great response rates from this method. Be sure to keep your survey short and to the point: 5-10 questions are best. An online search for "survey services" will get you started.

Forms

It is common today for companies to email offers to their contacts, and they often drive people to a form to fill out. Using an online form service is an inexpensive and quick way to do this—without having to modify your own Web site. These sites allow you to add your logo, and they can usually be linked directly to your Web site.

Even if budget isn't your issue, but the red tape of a large company makes it difficult to make any Web site change, these vendors are a great option. Shop around for the right price for your needs. If you expect very few responses, paying by respondent might be better than one that charges a slightly higher fee per form.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jodi Bash has worked for startups and global corporations in various marketing capacities, including product management, marketing operations, program development, corporate branding and messaging, press relations, team management and sales. She has an MBA from Rice University.