Email Marketing

What are Survey Emails and How to Maximize Responses

Reach out to your customers, and get replies!


Qasim Farooq


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Good businesses stay up to date with their customers' wants and needs. And if there's any good way to assess what customers need, it's by directly asking them!

A survey email is a great way to get customer feedback, which is equivalent to getting a pot of gold for companies! Once a company understands the requirements of its target audience, it can go as far as to adjust its whole marketing or product strategy based on the feedback received.

But, building a good survey and a decent survey invitation email may prove to be a tricky task. Survey software can essentially take care of the seemingly trying task of building a survey. The latter, however, requires equal, or perhaps even more, careful attention.

A well-written survey email with an intriguing subject line will ensure high open rates and will keep the audience's attention for at least a couple of seconds. This will, in turn, ensure that customers click the survey links, and generate the data the company needs. Cha-ching—mission accomplished!

Writing an effective survey invitation email is as important as other parts of a well-thought-out marketing campaign which include elements like email segmentation, on-point CTAs, and sending time.

We aren't looking at different email metrics here either, the open rate and click-through rate are still measures of success. However, your click-through and reply rate is what fully determines your success. You got your customers to respond—and now you have the desired information.

However, since a survey email isn't about selling something or providing information, it may be difficult to get your audience to pay attention.

hard to get your audience to respond to survey emails

Also Read: Get the Highest Email Open Rates!

Let's check out what makes a survey email unique in this article!

What is an email survey?

An email survey is a set of questions or simply a question that a company emails to its customers in order to collect feedback or data. Therefore, if an email contains a question, it can be considered a survey email.

This could be anything from gathering information about customer experience to suggestions for improvement. Survey emails can also be used to conduct research, calculate Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score(which will be explained further in the article) or simply get feedback, etc.

qualitative and quantitative survey results in survey emails

A survey email can be used to generate, both, quantitative and qualitative survey results.

When beginning to create a survey email, you can choose from a wide array of survey email templates. A good template will likely generate more survey responses. However, that's not the only element that's going to do the trick.

  • Your survey email must have a great subject line

  • It must be short and to-the-point

  • It must convey the value of the survey and the value that the recipient's answer brings

We will discuss the dos and don'ts of a survey email by looking at the best survey email examples later in the article.

Let's first discuss why survey emails are important.

Why are survey emails important?

There are multiple reasons why survey emails are valuable for a company. Let's take a look at some.

survey emails are great for customer feedback

1. Customer feedback

The primary reason why a business will decide to send survey emails is to get customer feedback.

All surveys collect data, but depending on when and what is asked, there are different surveys for different data types.

A business may use survey emails to figure out where to improve and what steps to take to serve its target market better. The business can then make changes that are in accordance with their customers' needs.

At times, a company may also use the feedback for promotional purposes. For example, a company may post reviews generated through customer surveys on its website to show how good its services are.

survey emails are used for product testing

2. Product testing

A survey email can also help companies test products. Say, for example, a company reveals a new product in the market. How will the company know how its customers feel about this new product?

This is where a survey email comes in. A customer satisfaction survey or a customer feedback survey email are probably a company's best go-to methods.

A survey email with a subject line that reads something like "Help us understand how Product X was for you" or "We want your opinion about Product X" will help your company collect feedback regarding the product.

Businesses usually test new products right after their product has reached the market and has sold a couple of units or subscriptions. But there is no reason why companies should not continuously get feedback for existing products too! SaaS businesses also ask for feedback during the beta phase.

In the end, all the valuable data collected about the new product will help the company make improvements in its product or market it better.

survey emails are good for demographic research

3. Demographic research

Demographic research, through the use of a survey email, will gather demographic data about customers. This could be their location, their time zone, gender, country, etc.

Demographic data can tell the company a lot about its target audience and help it tailor its emails to target them better. For example, by considering the time zone of its target customers, a company will know when to send emails to maximize open rates.

We will elaborate on how information such as geographic location and other demographic data can then be utilized to improve email marketing campaigns.

survey emails can build trust

4. Build trust

The purpose of a survey email goes beyond the money-making agenda. A survey email also builds trust between the customer and the company.

A customer satisfaction survey (CSAT) is in itself a caring gesture. It shows that your company cares about its customers and really wants to know how well it is doing.

And so, when customers feel cared for, they are more likely to be loyal to the company. This is especially true when valuable feedback is incorporated to improve the services or products a company offers or to improve customer experience.

What are the benefits of an email survey?

There are many ways for a company to conduct surveys and gather feedback, such as through web surveys, postal surveys, telephone surveys, etc.

However, email surveys are perhaps the most efficient and most feasible form of obtaining feedback. Let's see why as we explore the benefits of email surveys over other forms of surveys, and their benefits in general.

1. Cost-effective

Survey emails are cost-effective. The virtual nature of a survey email removes several expenses. These expenses include the cost to print survey forms and the need to travel to the area where the survey has to be conducted.

While this might save a company a few dollars on each survey form, it will save a large sum of money overall.

2. Easy follow-up reminders

Follow-up email reminders are essential to ensure customers who overlook or forget to fill the survey initially, can do so eventually. This is important to maximize responses and to get as much feedback as possible.

Customers are lost during in-person paper surveys as you probably won't be able to get in touch with the same customer again. It is the same with web surveys unless a customer visits the website again.

An email survey, however, does not face the same hurdle. Sending follow-up reminders for email surveys is easy because as long as a business has a customer's email address, all it needs is a click to send them an email reminder.

You can also conduct follow-up surveys or part two of your survey with the same group of people.

3. Honest answers

An email survey will generate honest answers which makes survey data more accurate!

For example, compare an email survey to a paper survey. The midst of a crowded shopping store might not be the best environment for a customer to truly express themselves, so they will probably rush through the survey in this environment.

In contrast, send a survey to a respondent via email and they can fill it out from the comfort of their home. In addition, there is no pressure to fill out the survey quickly. They can take their time to provide honest answers.

4. Can be sent to several people in one click

One of the biggest advantages of being virtual (an email survey) is that a business can send a survey to several people at the same time. All it takes is one click!

After a business has its mailing list ready and has dealt with the nitty gritty aspects of email segmentation, the survey link can be incorporated into the survey email template. You can add a nice subject line and that's it!

The survey invitations can be sent to everyone at once.

What are the different types of email surveys?

There are many types of email surveys. Each one has its own specific use and generates data that helps evaluate a particular aspect. Let's take a look!

1. Customer satisfaction (CSAT) survey

A customer satisfaction survey, or CSAT survey, is exactly what it sounds like - a survey to measure how satisfied customers are.

Customer satisfaction is extremely vital for any business, and so, CSAT survey invitation emails play a huge role in highlighting how well a business's customer service is.

A satisfaction survey will not just highlight how satisfied customers are, but it will also highlight other things such as customer loyalty, business-related aspects that affect customers negatively, etc.

By continuously sending customer satisfaction surveys, businesses can keep track of how they are performing and stay alert. If there's a negative shift, businesses can act promptly through changes that pacify customers and make them happy before it's too late!

CSAT survey

2. Net promoter score (NPS) survey

The net promoter score (NPS) survey is used to calculate the NPS score.

The NPS score ranges from -100 to +100, and the closer it is to +100, the more loyal its customers are.

A basic, standard NPS survey email will consist of just one question: "On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend Company X?". And then, with survey results from many customers, a business will generate its NPS score.

Sometimes a business will also include an open-ended question in its NPS survey email for a more personal understanding of its customers' opinions.

An NPS survey may be limited to one or two questions but some businesses may add more. It is important to note that concise and specific surveys are best to get more responses.

net promoter score survey

3. Customer effort score (CES) survey

Because customers are put off when they have to exert themselves too much to get a product, the concept of a customer effort score (CES) was introduced.

And so, a CES survey will help businesses understand how difficult or easy it is for customers to get their service/product. A CES survey usually consists of one or two questions at max.

An example of a CES survey question would be "On a scale of 1-10, how easy or difficult was it to interact with Company X?".

A CES survey invitation email can be sent to customers right after a pivotal point in their customer journey. This could be purchasing a product, speaking to a customer support representative, signing up for a subscription, etc.

CES surveys are often used alongside CSAT and NPS surveys. With results from all three customer service metrics, businesses will get a complete idea of how well they're treating their customers.

5. Churn survey

For businesses, seeing customers leave is not a pretty sight. But even when it seems inevitable, all is not lost.

A leaving customer can still give valuable information about what prompted them to forsake a business. And that is what a churn survey is about. A churn survey is used to understand why a customer decided to stop using a service or product.

Results from a churn survey help businesses avoid losing more customers in the future by not repeating the same mistake again and by improving the experience for existing customers.

Ideally, a churn survey invitation email can be sent right after a customer decides to unsubscribe from a service. This helps avoid any gap between the time they decided to unsubscribe and when the email is sent, making them more likely to fill out the survey.

churn survey

6. Concept testing survey

A concept testing survey is used to assess the acceptance of an idea or a concept amongst customers.

Concept testing surveys can also be used to get customers' opinions about unreleased products or services.

Concept testing allows businesses to gauge the appeal of a service or product that your company will soon introduce. It helps businesses understand how successful their product will likely be in the market.

Concept testing surveys can also be sent immediately after the release of a product. These surveys ask questions about the product, price, and features of the product, etc.

concept testing survey

7. Product feedback survey

If a company wants to know how well its product did or how happy its customers are with the product, they'll use a product feedback survey.

A product feedback survey email can also be used to gather feedback about several other things. This can be feedback about the company's website, customer service, ease of use etc.

In short, a product feedback survey can get opinions about any product or service the company owns/offers.

Results from such feedback surveys are important for a company because they will help it optimize the features of its product and/or services accordingly. Ask about how helpful or functional the product was, or how likely customers are to consider it in their next purchase.

If your company plans on disseminating product feedback surveys, a good time to do so would be a few days after releasing the product, which would allow enough time for your customers to use and experience the product/service.

But don't wait too long either, because the sooner your company receives input, the quicker it can implement the needed changes!

product feedback survey

8. Market research survey

A market research survey will highlight the needs and preferences of the target market before a company launches a service or a product.

You can think of it as an assessment a company does before making a move in the market. So that when the company makes the move, it knows what to introduce, where to find customers that will use its products, and how to make sure that its sales go in the right direction.

And so, by understanding the market through survey research, a business or company will also understand what not to do.

For example, if a company is about to launch Product X, but the research survey shows that customers no longer find Product X attractive. The company will then know that launching the product may not be worthwhile or the company may look for a new target audience elsewhere.

Data from a research survey can be pooled with other types of survey methods like focus groups, questionnaires, and market analysis to help businesses conduct their preliminary research and really understand their audience.

market research survey

9. Lead generation survey

A lead generation survey is used to collect particular information from potential customers, so as to keep track and slowly turn them into paying customers.

Lead generation survey invitation emails should be directed toward new potential customers who visit a business's website. Once these website visitors agree to receive emails from your business, you can send them a lead generation survey to find out what services they fancy or what products they are searching for.

You can also ask them about their favorite communication method.

And so, based on the survey results that your lead generation survey helped acquire, you can start sending personalized product recommendations. You can also segment your mailing list to nurture your leads and gradually move them along the sales pipeline!

lead generation survey

How to maximize survey responses

While sending survey invitation emails might seem like an easy task, generating maximum survey responses is a little more difficult.

And so, when companies plan on handing out a survey email, they consider many factors to maximize their survey response rates. Let's take a look at what you need to do to get the responses rolling in.

1. Short survey

Most customers will not have time on their hands to complete a long survey. Therefore, a good email survey is short and does not take too long to fill.

Once a survey participant begins a survey, ideally, they should be done in just a few clicks. And if the survey is too long, participants might not even complete the survey. In fact, there is a significant association between the length of the survey and the likelihood of the survey respondent finishing it.

In a study that analyzed various factors that impact online survey response rates, more than 90% of respondents said that they were more likely to finish the survey if it was under 15 minutes long.

Therefore, a quick survey is key.

Look at how far Unity, the game developer company, wittingly took this fact by generating a one-question short survey.

one question survey emails

2. Mention the length of the survey

A good way to reassure the respondent and convince them that the survey won't take too long to fill is to tell them at the start.

Somewhere close to the CTA button in the email, companies will highlight how long it will take the customer to finish the survey. This can also make a catchy subject line. For example, the subject line could read something like "Hello, [Insert name], can we have X minutes of your time?".

3. Embedded email surveys

An embedded survey email is more likely to generate responses compared to a standard email survey.

In a study that compared email invite click rates for 4333 embedded email surveys versus 4347 standard email surveys, a significant association was found between the use of the embedded format and the click rate.

In fact, according to the research, there was also a significant association between embedded email surveys and the survey completion rate. Therefore, it is evident that embedded email surveys are a proven way to maximize responses.

Have a look at this embedded survey email from Goodreads, the well-known book website.

embedded survey emails

7. Survey email subject lines

Attractive survey email subject lines are vital if you want your customers to open your email in the first place. A survey email invitation is where the whole journey begins, but the subject line is the key. Without a good subject line, your email won't even be opened.

Research also shows that short subject lines lead to higher open rates. Amongst all groups in the research, the group with short email subject lines had the highest open rate. The same research also showed that a personalized and emotional subject line can also significantly affect open rates.

Businesses should experiment with different subject lines and see whether the short route or the emotional route is better for them.

8. Optimize emails for phones

Mobile phones are easy to carry, always accessible, and convenient. So, it is no wonder that most customers prefer checking their email Inbox on their phones.

According to research, the ease phones provide, helps people check their emails during their free time. Therefore, email optimization for phones is immensely important for business, and vital towards maximizing the response rate for survey emails.

9. Offer incentives or rewards

Who isn't motivated by rewards? By offering rewards or incentives, you can be sure that your survey's response rate will go up.

These rewards are usually specific to a company's product(s). For example, a company that offers online courses may extend the duration of subscription for customers who complete the survey.

Similarly, companies can offer coupons or discounts too!

Offering incentives is also likely to convince customers to fill out a longer survey.

Have a look at this email by The New Yorker, a reputable online newspaper. A potential $1000 giveaway helps in convincing customers to fill out their 10-minute survey.

incentives in survey emails

9. Survey invitation reminder

Sending survey invitation reminders can bring a considerable boost to the number of responses. But there is a caveat: don't overdo the reminders!

According to research, up to 66% of respondents said that they are more likely to fill out the survey if they get a reminder. And up to 75% also said that they find more than three survey reminders a nuisance.

In conclusion, survey reminders are a healthy way to increase responses as long as they are few.

10. Send a pre-survey notification

Sometimes, letting your customers know that a survey is coming their way will put them in the right mindset and they'll be more accepting of a survey email.

Sending pre-survey notifications is also a research-backed method of maximizing responses. Up to 91% of respondents agree that a pre-survey notification via email is an effective way to get them to open the survey email.

consider time and customers' geographical location when sending emails

11. Consider customers' geographical location

There are two important things to consider about a customer's geographic location: the time zone and the language of the customer. These aspects are also to be considered important for effective email campaigns.

According to research, customers are more likely to open a survey email in the early hours of the day. This means that emails sent between 8 and 9 AM will achieve the highest open rates. High open rates are also seen between 2 and 5 PM in the same research.

And if the survey questions are not in the language of the customer, or are in a language they do not understand, there will be no point in sending them a survey invitation email.

Therefore, these targeted respondents are more likely to open emails and complete the survey when their geographic data is utilized wisely.

Bottom line

The need for email surveys is obvious due to their feasibility and their ability to generate valuable and actionable feedback. And similarly, in order to get the responses you need, the importance of a compelling survey invitation email cannot be denied.

Follow the steps mentioned above such as sending survey reminders, pre-survey notifications, and offering incentives to get recipients to fill out your surveys.

Want to create a survey email?

GoCustomer carries all the necessary tools to generate the perfect survey email for your business. In addition, it also offers an AI email writer, email warmup service, A/B testing and many other features. Design your survey email and use the advice above to get the responses rolling in.

Try GoCustomer to watch GoCustomer take your email campaign to the next level!

An image to showcase the email warmup feature

Reach more customers with your cold emails

Table of Contents

    In a nutshell

    A survey email is used to deliver a survey link to a customer in order to collect data. A survey email can take many forms such as an NPS survey email, CSAT survey email, etc.
    Survey emails are important for reasons such as getting feedback from customers, testing products, conducting market research and building trust.
    There are several benefits of a survey email. These include cost-effectiveness, easy follow-up reminders, getting honest answers compared to other survey methods, etc.
    There are many ways to maximize responses such as using good email subject lines, creating a short survey, using embedded surveys, and ensuring the survey is optimized for mobile.
    A CSAT survey is a customer satisfaction survey that can be sent to customers or potential customers after they subscribe to something, purchase or use a product, or after a customer service call.
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