Practical advice for email surveys

When people think of email marketing, they usually think of increasing sales, leads, or website visits with offers and content. Email, however, is a versatile business tool that can help your organization in other ways, too. One example is customer surveys. Let’s look at some practical ideas for making the most of this great resource.

Embedding a (one-question) survey in the email itself is a great tactic for developing your understanding of subscriber needs and characteristics.

Simply use a closed response question where the answers take the form of links: your click-through statistics become your survey results. you can use these results to define the right kind of content to send people in future.

One-click survey example Bonobos Survey

Some senders use this approach regularly as secondary campaign content, or simply to introduce more interactivity into the mail and encourage clicking.

Another option is to put a market research or customer satisfaction survey online and use email to promote it. When sending people the survey link, your email should (ideally) address four objectives:

1. What do you want the recipient to do?

Make the description of the task subscriber-friendly and user-oriented. A generic “take a customer survey” might be less big-brotherly or intimidating when pitched as “Do you like our new website? Tell us how we’re doing in a quick survey”.

2. Why should they do it?

While you can appeal to the helpful nature and loyalty of your subscribers, it’s better if you can demonstrate how they actually profit from completing a survey.

You may already have an incentive to feature in the message. Some retailers, for example, offer a gift voucher or one-off discount for completing a survey.

If the the survey isn’t incentivized, clarify how the survey results will benefit the subscriber. For example, if you want people to reveal their content preferences, explain that by participating future emails will be more relevant to their interests.

3. How long will it take?

Few people have time to waste, so if the survey really should only take a few moments or two minutes to complete, say so!

4. What’s the next step?

To maximize survey responses, don’t bulk out a dedicated survey mail with too much (or any) other content, offers and multiple CTAs. Ensure the call to action is clear and prominent.

Use your subject line, preheader, and opening headline to answer the what, why and how long questions, too, like this Marketing Land survey email did:

survey mail example text


Be sure to test survey email subject lines just as you would campaign subject lines.

Bonus tips…

If you’re collecting subscriber data, everyone on your list is an “ideal” survey candidate. For broader research or satisfaction surveys, you may need to segment. Where possible, consider a follow-up email to those who don’t complete the survey, giving them a second opportunity to respond and a reminder of the benefits of doing so.

Finally, monitor email replies, too: some people may want to say more than the survey allows and send useful insight and feedback in a reply email.

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