My firm, Red Branch Media, sends out thousands of survey requests every year. We’ve learned a few lessons in years of doing this. And I must tell you—this will probably hurt—your survey needs help. Really.
Want to get a good response from your customers? You can make your email surveys less horrible with these 10 tips:
1. Keep it interesting. Read your email when you're finished creating it. Do YOU want to click? Read more? Even care at all? Keep it personal and interesting, and don’t neglect the subject line, sender or intro text (that teeny-tiny text in the upper left corner of every email editor).
2. Tell the truth, Pinocchio! People are usually willing to do you favors, but not when you make them wait until the bottom of the email to figure out what it is. Give your audience a frame of reference upfront by telling them where their answers are going.
3. Be polite. Like mom always said, say thank you, Rudeness McGee! Sometimes marketers forget the most basic forms of kindness (I think it comes from years of unsubscribe rates and trollish blog comments). If you ask someone to do something—and you should always include a call to action, or CTA—then you should preface it with a simple, “Thanks bunches!”
4. Keep it short and sweet. People are crazy busy, so don’t waste their time with a 20-minute survey unless you're Gallup. Instead, make your survey short. Don’t tell them it will take “mere seconds” when it’s actually 600 seconds. And do send a reminder: Your survey is not as top of mind as you think.
5. Don't skimp on links. CTAs are important in any promotional email, but especially one that includes a survey. Make sure it’s above the fold, colored appropriately and easy to see. People can’t do you a favor if your link is buried at the bottom of a three-paragraph email with a bunch of other calls to action.
6. Provide a deadline. Giving a deadline is required. Some might even include it in the headline if it’s imminent. No one ever heard of an open-ended survey, and if they did, then I can’t imagine it being used for anything worth anything.
7. Think about who you want answers from. If you want your survey to get any traction, you need to open it up to as many people as possible (think social). The caveat is that in B2B and niche marketing, lots of people are not qualified to answer your survey. You definitely don’t want your Aunt Mildred from Spokane piping up about sourcing methods.
8. Give it away. Everyone likes getting free stuff. I know a married father of four who genuinely does surveys for the free gift or points. If you have the budget to include one, try a coffee store gift card or a Facebook or Amazon credit as an incentive.
9. Know your audience. And don’t send your survey when they're too busy to fill it out. Some folks say Tuesday morning is the way to go for B2B, which may be true. But many more people are fooling around on Facebook at about 3:45 p.m. on pretty much any day, so A/B test to see which channels get the most responses.
10. See if they click. Want a foolproof way to know if your survey is lacking? Try checking the abandon rate. If it’s high, your survey is not clear, too long, arduous or whatever. Change that by including encouraging reminders at specific stages and walking through these steps again, if need be.
Now it's your turn. What would you add to this list?
Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. She is also a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs.
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