User feedback is probably one of the most critical, effective and efficient methods for optimizing market research, marketing, and advertising.
Most companies are pretty good at acknowledging, and acting upon the need, to proactively solicit customer feedback.
This traditional type of proactive market research, solicited feedback, is all about asking people to form an opinion or conduct a task, and listen and observe to their answers and actions and reactions as they engage with provided stimuli. In other words, soliciting insights from users and customers.
However, despite the positive feelings we usually associate with the term "proactive", this is not the only valid way to receive feedback.
Unfortunately, unsolicited feedback is often the orphan child of market research and marketing, partly because of the fact that the traditional means of collecting it, for example, through customer service departments, are not commonly thought of as assets and resources to be used by the marketing and market research and customer insight departments of many organizations.
The Internet, as with so many other things, is changing that. Social media monitoring and sentiment analysis are quickly gaining the attention of market research, customer insight and marketing departments.
Now it is possible to become immediately alerted to an emerging issue with customers and user experiences, and to drill down, both quantitatively and qualitatively into the issue, through audiovisual recordings of participants from within their own homes, by leveraging their own webcams and computer screen recording capabilities.
Even if sometimes seen as a passive practice, "reactive" unsolicited approaches tend to eliminate the inherent and many times even unintended manipulation of a proactive approach. In other words, the target population is the one that comes up with the items, actions, content, behavior etc. of interest.
Whereas solicited "proactive" approaches have the advantage of allowing marketers and insight departments to test new hypothesis quickly.
Unsolicited feedback works great in new markets or for new products while solicited feedback works great for consolidated markets where there is a lot of competition.
As a general rule, “proactive” solicited feedback measures are implemented before an issue arises by a constant study of the market place to adjust to trends before they occur. On the other hand, “reactive” unsolicited measures are best implemented when there has been a consistent inquiry by customers or clients for change, or where there is a great deal of dynamism and change occurring in the relevant market.
If we add the ability to monitor and alert us to certain types of feedback (e.g.: social monitoring, sentiment analysis, etc.) with the capacity to drill down into the received feedback by using webcams and other emerging qualitative research tools to solicit a deeper understanding of the feedback received, we enable a marrying together of the two types of feedback, in real time.