A marketing lesson that can’t be repeated too often is that you always need to focus on your customer’s or prospect’s wants and needs. Who are they? What are they looking for? What are their issues? What are their goals? The more insights of this kind you have, the better and more focused you can make your marketing efforts.
In this review, you’ll find a comparison of six different WordPress plugins that are all designed to help you get feedback from your website visitors. The six candidates are: smartFeedback, ninety Feedback Plugin, Creative Feedback Form, Usernoise Pro, Avia Feedback Box and TotalFeedback.
Videos speak louder than words (that’s a saying, right?), so here’s a video tour of all six plugins:
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Here are some details about each of the plugins:
The smartFeedback plugin places a “Feedback” tab on the left side of the screen, on every page of your site.
On click, a simple feedback form opens, where users can add comments in any number of categories (e.g. bug-reports, ideas, praise) that you can freely define.
The feedback form is aesthetically pleasing, but not customizable in any way. I also missed any way for customizing the feedback tab created by the plugin. You can neither deactivate it on specific pages, nor change the color, size or position of it.
ninety Feedback Plugin
The feedback plugin created by ninety is quite similar to smartFeedback. It also creates a tab on the left side of the screen, which opens a modal box, where visitors can leave feedback.
Instead of a selection of different categories of feedback, ninety invites your visitors to communicate their mood, via a selection of emoticons – a feature that I believe was inspired by a similar one found in GetSatisfaction.
A potential problem with this plugin is that the feedback tab is gray and not eye-catching at all. While you can customize the text, you can’t change the color. If your site has a grey or other light background, many visitors might simply not notice the feedback tab at all.
Creative Feedback Form
Like it’s competitors, Creative Feedback Form adds a feedback tab to your site, but it takes the concept one step further by adding a small community element. Whenever a user opens the feedback form and selects a category, they will see previous entries made to that category, by other users. The existing suggestions can even be voted on.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to comment on the existing suggestions.
The feedback tab as well as the form itself is very customizable. You can choose between different color themes (none of which are particularly appealing) and you can choose the position of the tab. You can also change the wording or even entirely translate all of the text elements into a different language.
Usernoise is a free WordPress plugin, which adds a feedback form, similar to smartFeedback, to you site. Usernoise Pro is an update, which adds a community element to this feedback form.
The community feature is better implemented in Usernoise Pro than in the Creative Feedback plugin, since it not only allows voting on topics, but also allows comments. In terms of design and usability, it’s also ahead of it’s direct competitor.
The community features are so well done that I wish there were a way to display them on a page, on your WordPress site. The fact that they are confined to the small modal window is their only drawback.
Avia Feedback Box
Avia Feedback Box is the plugin I use for the recently introduced Votebox on IM Impact.
Avia creates something like a hybrid between a feedback form and a forum. In contrast to the other plugins reviewed here, this one is placed on a specific page and it doesn’t create a feedback tab that is shown on all of your pages. The advantage of this is that it’s not constrained to a small box and thanks to it’s voting, commenting and annotation features, it encourages community interaction more effectively than the other plugins.
Avia Feedback Box comes with a light, a dark and a “blank” skin, to choose from. One issue I’ve noticed is that it seems to lose all previous entries and settings whenever it’s deactivated and then reactivated.
TotalFeedback offers a different and potentially much more focused way to get feedback from your visitors. Instead of displaying a form that users can fill out with any ideas, suggestions or complaints they may have, TotalFeedback pops up a small box with a mini-survey consisting of one question and a limited set of possible answers.
Theoretically, it’s possible to just use it as a feedback form with a question like “tell us your thoughts” and a custom text field, but used as a surveying tool, it has a lot more potential.
Using TotalFeedback, you can have different polls showing on different pages of your site and you can even have them triggered by different actions, such as a visitor scrolling down 50% of the page. Unfortunately, the visual style can not be changed, so if the form happens to be a similar color to the background on your site, you’re out of luck.
Most of the plugins in this roundup do their job well, but some have a better job-description than others. Simply having a feedback form on your site can be useful in many ways, but if all you do is invite open feedback, how many replies do you need before you can make a smart decision based on them?
In terms of being useful for marketing, the winners of this roundup are Avia Feedback and TotalFeedback.
Avia has a strong focus on community and instead of just gathering everyone’s random thoughts, it helps you find the most in-demand ideas, suggestions and questions, via it’s voting system. And it does so without limiting the possible range of suggestions you’ll get.
TotalFeedback is for laser-focused research. You can pinpoint users who spend a specific amount of time looking at a specific page, for example. A tool like TotalFeedback is extremely valuable on a sales-page, as it gives you an opportunity to ask your prospects about their buying decisions (or lack thereof) directly. In addition, it does great reporting on on all the feedback it collects.
If, for some reason, you want something closer to a “normal” feedback form, my recommendation goes to Usernoise Pro.