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What are email surveys

Any question you send to your users through emails can be called email surveys. So even if you merely write emails to customers to ask about their satisfaction, we can count it as an email survey. But fortunately, the technology allows us to do more and with less effort. Real email surveys 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.

email surveys

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. Email survey can be sent from inboxes like Gmail or integrated with e-mail marketing software or Customer Relationship Management tools like Salesforce®, MailChimp, HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, Intercom or Drip to send them automatically. Quite useful for collecting feedback from users and customers, right? So let’s dive into email surveys. Let’s begin with their pros and cons to give you a general overview if they might be the solution you are looking for.

Pros:

  • high response rates since they require little effort to answer
  • Can lead into a longer survey on a landing page, resulting in larger feedback
  • 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
  • Can be integrated into automation software to automatically send targeted surveys to customers after they perform a specific action
  • 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 survey more easily and the IT team won’t complain about additional work since there is none.

Cons:

  • can be distributed to customers or subscribers only – after all, it requires an email address
  • limited to asking simple questions that require a single click to answer
  • no possibility of using text fields in the first question sent in an email
  • creating an effective survey requires some knowledge about email marketing. Writing interesting subject lines is crucial for securing high open rates and it directly translates into the number of answers you collect (a few great ideas for subject lines Here).

 

Use-cases of email surveys

Still interested in using email surveys but not sure how you can use them? Here are a few use-cases of email surveys, universal, and industry-specific.

Customer Satisfaction and Net Promoter Score Surveys

Both 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. By placing the first scoring question in the body of your email, you are guaranteed higher response rates to at least that first question. Additionally, an email NPS requires little setup as you already have a list customers emails available in most cases.

Post-purchase survey for e-commerce

Website surveys are a great way of collecting feedback in post-purchase surveys but 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 about your products after some time passes. Use this to locate potential issues with your products quality or durability and improve it.

Surveys embedded in Newsletters

If you are regularly sending 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 has also some profiling possibilities, as you can get an idea what individual newsletter recipients like or want to be updated about and personalize your communication in the future.

StartupResources.io ingeniously uses their newsletter to openly gather feedback every issue. This feedback becomes each next issues opening content.

Trial satisfaction survey

Most of 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 what their true value is. Collecting feedback from trial users can be crucial to understanding how to move forward and email surveys are great for this.

The best practice is to send such 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 the way 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 accounts. A few users were dissatisfied (NPS around 4) and likely to churn because they thought we didn’t offer UTM targeting. It took Daniel, our support hero, 5 minutes to write emails with an explanation how to set UTM targeting. Result? Happy customers and higher MRR.

What is most interesting is the fact that our scoring system didn’t work at all for some of those users – they seemed to be achieving good results and taking all actions we considered as crucial on the way to becoming customers. It turns out that 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.

Satisfaction survey for events and conferences

Satisfaction of attendees is one of the crucial factors for organizers (or at least it should be). In fact, some conferences share their NPS as a social proof to show people that the event is worth attending and participants love it (a very good example can be found over at the Conversion Hotel event website). 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 you can distribute the survey without a struggle. You can send a link to a survey as well, but as already mentioned, response rates will be usually lower. Collected insights will show you what to improve and make the next edition of your event even better than the previous one.

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 use traditional surveys as well, 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 possible reasons why people don’t use the app (like no need anymore, found an alternative, just wanted to test etc.), send out a survey, see why people don’t use your app use the insight to plan fixes.

What to ask about in email surveys

As listed in cons of email surveys, you are limited to types of question that require just one click to answer. So you can use either scale question 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, make sure this question alone 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, buy or attend 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 a basic choice. 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 of the 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 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.

Choosing the right email survey tool

Choosing the right survey tools means first deciding how you are going to use it. If you are aiming to collect NPS than a lot of 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 their personalized feedback as well as 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? Survicate has you covered as usual. Since profile building capabilities should be your focus too, as well as possibilities to design your survey, personalize it with styles, fonts and logos, and making it fit your email and communication strategies, Survicate got you covered there too.

So what’s next?

Now you know what are email surveys, how you can use them, and how to choose the right tool. So start a trial or a free account with one of the providers and start running email surveys to learn more about your customers!