Sending Email Surveys: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need
Sending out email surveys comes with many benefits. While website surveys get the highest completion rates, this distribution method comes a close second.
If you embed a survey into an email, you will be able to:
- get high response rates, as email embeddable surveys are very engaging
- identify respondents and follow up with each customer individually
- pass what you already know about your respondents (type of subscription, event attended, recent purchases) from your system to Survicate to slice and dice data
- run follow-up marketing campaigns and set up marketing automation based on survey responses and customer feedback
- connect survey data to the tools you love and use to acquire, engage and retain customers, and more!
If you’re using a supported question type as the first question of your survey, you can embed it in an email so customers can respond with just one click. They’ll have to confirm their choice once the link redirects them to a survey landing page.
What are email surveys?
Any questions you send to your users through emails can be considered email surveys. So even if it’s just a survey invitation email, we’ll consider it part of this post topic. We’ll also discuss how embedding the first survey question can help you raise the response rate.
Email HTML code can accommodate several question types. That means you should use one of the following for your first survey question:
- Single Answer Selection
- Smiley Scale
- Welcome Message
An email survey is defined as one of the most efficient data collection methods used to collect quantitative data via email. Email questionnaires are based on a simple concept: you can embed hyperlinks in an email’s HTML code. This way, you can send a survey in an email, and the hyperlinks are responses.
Clicking a link counts as a response to the survey.
An email survey can be sent from inboxes like Gmail or integrated with e-mail marketing software or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools like
Quite useful for collecting feedback from users and customers, right?
Let’s begin with the email survey types to give you a general overview if they might be the possible solution you are looking for.
Types of email surveys
Here are 6 types of email surveys, universal and industry-specific.
#1. Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Score Surveys
Both Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys are a staple of measuring your customers’ satisfaction with your company and the likelihood of your customers becoming promoters. Email surveys are the perfect venue for your standard product and service-related surveys.
NPS email surveys require little setup as you already have a list of customers’ emails available in most cases. Additionally, by placing the first scoring question in the body of your email, you are guaranteed higher response rates to at least that first question.
#2. Post-purchase survey for e-commerce
Popup surveys are a great way of collecting feedback in post-purchase surveys, but the answers you collect are mostly about the purchase process and the quality of your website.
Email surveys have one advantage over website surveys: you can send them after a certain time since the purchase.
Example: You can send out a survey a week after the purchase is complete.
Then people have a full overview of the quality of your services, from website to shipping time, packaging, and first interactions with the product they had bought.
You can also use surveys to collect insight into your products after some time passes. Use this to locate potential issues with the quality or durability of your product and improve it.
#3. Surveys embedded in newsletters
If you regularly send out a newsletter to your customers, you can enhance it further with relevant surveys. You can ask your recipients how useful or relevant the newsletter is to them or suggest different topics to include in your next newsletter.
This tactic also has some profiling possibilities, as you can get an idea of what individual newsletter recipients like or want to be updated about and personalize your communication in the future.
Startupresources.io ingeniously uses its newsletter to openly gather feedback on every issue. This feedback becomes each next issue opening content.
#4. Trial satisfaction survey
Most SaaS companies face the same problem – trial or free users don’t convert into paying customers. It’s a huge headache, and we do our best to limit it with great onboarding strategies and support. But apparently, it’s not enough.
Not so many companies want to share their results because no one wants to admit to low stats. Thus studies are few, and it’s difficult to find a benchmark of conversion rates from a trial to paying customers.
Lincoln Murphy has an amazing article on why these conversion rates are not only hard to normalize but to decrypt their true value.
Collecting feedback from trial users can be crucial to understanding how to move forward; email surveys are great for this.
The best practice is to send such a survey at least a few days before the trial period finishes and ask how satisfied they are with the trial so far. Why?
Because this way, you have enough time to act and do your best to convince the not convinced to become customers.
Sometimes a short email from the support team can completely change how people think about you. A simple example from our experience: we sent a survey to trial users to find out why so many of them cancel their accounts.
A few users were dissatisfied and likely to churn because they thought we didn’t offer UTM targeting. It took Daniel, our support hero, 5 minutes to write emails explaining how to set UTM targeting. Result? Happy customers and higher MRR.
What is most interesting is that our scoring system didn’t work for some of those users – they seemed to be achieving good results and taking all actions we considered crucial on becoming customers.
One-click in an email survey and then a few words of answers to a follow-up question can be more effective in turning trials into customers than fancy scoring systems.
#5. Satisfaction survey for events and conferences
The attendees' satisfaction is one of the crucial factors for organizers (or at least it should be). In fact, some conferences share their NPS as social proof to show people that the event is worth attending and participants love it.
And is there any easier way of collecting their feedback than via email surveys? I don’t know any. All participants are on your mailing lists so that you can distribute the survey without a struggle. You can also send a link to a survey, but as already mentioned, response rates will usually be lower.
Collected insights will show you what to improve and make the next edition of your event even better than the previous one.
#6. Increasing mobile app retention
Mobile app developers face a similar problem to SaaS companies whose trails don’t convert into customers – people download apps and then don’t use them. According to this research, only around 25% of people still use an app three months after downloading it, and some studies suggest it’s even less.
Finding a way of activating and engaging more users is a million-dollar question for developers. What do email surveys have to do with that?
If you require creating an account with an email (like Endomondo does), you can use email surveys to find out why people don’t activate. Of course, you can also use traditional surveys, but let’s be honest – how many people who chose not to use your app will be willing to sacrifice their time to fill out a long questionnaire?
I bet not many. In-app surveys won’t work either – after all, people would need to open the app to be able to take part in a survey. So use email surveys.
Come up with a few questions regarding your mobile app, send out a survey, see why people don’t use your app use the insight to plan fixes.
Email surveys question examples
As listed in the advantages of email surveys, you are limited to types of questions that require just one click to answer. So you can use either scale questions or single-answer ones. The first question included in an email can be either a whole survey or just the first step in a survey that appears in a new browser tab.
If you want it to be the first step, ensure this question provides you with insightful data.
Example: don’t ask, ‘Would you like to participate in a short survey?’. Instead, ask the first survey question.
Even if people answer only the first question and then bounce off from the survey landing page, you still get their responses to the first question.
This is why the most popular questions to ask in an email survey include:
How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?
Net Promoter Score – it’s probably the most popular question used in email surveys, and there are tools specializing only in it. Why? Because NPS provides companies with lots of information valuable for marketing and support teams.
Don’t forget to ask a popular follow-up question: ‘What’s the main reason for your answer?’. Using this pair of questions, you’ll not only find out how people assess you but also what are your biggest advantages and disadvantages.
How satisfied are you with …
Ask about the trial, interactions with your support team, quality of support materials, etc. Don’t forget to ask the same follow-up questions as in the previous example – ‘What is the reason for your answer?’. You can use the same scale as in an NPS survey or smiley faces.
How likely are you to …
You can ask about anything here, like using a mobile app, buying or attending again, etc. Up to you, your industry, and needs. Be creative!
Why did you …
Ask about reasons for certain actions (like not using your mobile app, choosing you over competitors, etc.)
All of these are basic choices. You can use email surveys similarly to website survey tools – for example, ask what other products people want you to offer, what you can do to improve their experience, what’s missing on the website, why they decided to quit shopping, what people want you to write about on a blog, etc.
Just remember that while most people don’t mind participating in a few website surveys if they visit your website frequently, they are likely to get fed up with email surveys if you send them too often.
A rule of thumb – don’t send more than one survey a month, and stop sending it to people who didn’t answer several times – you will only annoy them. If surveys are sent based on user activity (like trying new features in a SaaS tool), it can be more frequent, but be reasonable.
Advantages of email surveys
High response rates
Since they require little effort to answer, email surveys get the best response rates.
Great survey tools like Survicate record partial responses. This means that even if the respondent doesn’t answer any follow-up questions, you’ll still be able to analyze the data.
We'll automatically record the response as soon as they click an answer in the email. If they answer the remaining question, you’ll also be able to find those responses in your Analyze tab within the Survicate panel.
Good start for a longer survey
Email surveys are a great start for a longer survey. You can collect responses for the first question, even if the participant decides not to partake in the rest of the questions on a landing page.
Easy survey automation
Email surveys can be integrated with mailing or marketing automation software to automatically send surveys after certain actions performed by a user or customer to send a targeted and contextual survey. It also gives a possibility of enriching customer or leads profiles with collected answers
Easy survey targeting
Email surveys can be integrated into automation software to automatically send targeted surveys to customers after they perform a specific action
No coding skills required
In contrast to website surveys or live chat, email surveys don’t require adding any code to your website. Support managers can push the decision to start using mail surveys more easily, and the IT team won’t complain about additional work since there is none.
Disadvantages of email surveys
On the other hand, no solution comes without its downsides.
Firstly, you can only distribute email surveys can only to customers or subscribers. You do need an active email address for each potential respondent.
Secondly, you are limited by the question type of the first question. You can’t use complicated drag-and-drop, matrix, or open-field question types in email surveys.
And lastly, creating an effective survey requires some knowledge about email marketing. Writing catchy subject lines is crucial for securing high open rates and directly translates into the number of answers you collect.
It’s also a good idea to look into how to write a good survey introduction. Sometimes it’s not enough to just say, “please complete the survey”!
How to send a survey via email
Choose the best email survey tool
Choosing the right survey software means first deciding how you will use it. If you are aiming to collect NPS, then many tools out there might seem like a good choice until you aim to personalize every aspect of your communication towards the user with your survey.
Likewise, you need a tool that allows your users to give personalized feedback and the basic score.
But do you really need to limit yourself to NPS-type surveys only? Why not go for advanced capabilities from the start?
Since profile-building capabilities should be your focus, as well as possibilities to design your survey, personalize it with styles, fonts, and logos, and make it fit your email and communication strategies, make sure to choose the right survey software - such as Survicate.
Survicate provides templates for over 30 email platforms like HubSpot, Intercom, ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, Marketo, and more.
Custom solutions are also supported. As long as your email tool allows HTML, you’ll be able to embed a survey into an email.
Survicate collects partial responses, so all clicks are recorded in a database of your email survey tool, and you can efficiently analyze all collected results. You can see how many surveys were distributed, how many people answered, and their answers.
Create a survey that you can distribute via email
Choose the “email and link survey” distribution method. Use one of our templates optimized for the highest response rates, or create a survey from scratch. Make sure the first question is one of the following types:
- Single Answer Selection
- Smiley Scale
- Welcome Message
Retrieve the HTML code to your email survey
Head over to the Share tab and click “get your code”.
Copy the provided HTML embed code.
Send the email survey to your users and newsletter subscribers
Paste the HTML code into an email editor and send out the survey via your email marketing tool. Survicate integrates with over 30 email marketing tools, including Mailchimp, HubSpot, Klaviyo, and more.
For example, in Mailchimp, you can paste the code straight into a content block after you set up your email campaign.
Just choose the “code” type. The survey preview will show up on the left. You can also preview the survey email in your browser.
Responses will automatically flow to your Analyze tab in the Survicate panel.
Most of these tools allow setting up automation and follow-up emails based on responses and customer feedback. Send a survey reminder email only to respondents who did not fill out the survey the first time you reached out.
Analyze your feedback
Sending your email survey is not the last step. Neither is receiving feedback. You must close the feedback loop by following up with customers or updating your processes. That way, you are getting the most of the gathered feedback.
Start sending email surveys as links and embeds directly from your survey software today. Sign up for a free Survicate account and start collecting feedback.