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The dreaded email survey: get your customers to respond

These days we have a tendency to talk at each other, instead of to each other.

Think social media. There are a whole lot of voices out there screaming into the void. A social media monitoring company, Sysomos, looked at 1.2 billion tweets back in 2010 and found that 71% got no reaction. 23% of those tweets comprised @replies – or responses other than retweets.

In the race to continually churn out more and more information, it’s easy to not only lose sight of what we should be saying but how we should be saying it.

Yeah, the right words go a long way…

If you’ve been feeling like your online copy hasn’t been pushing the right buttons with your audience, it may be time to bite the bullet and get some feedback.

In a 2013 study, 74% of online consumers expressed frustration with websites that displayed content that had nothing to do with their interests. We’re talking about nearly 3/4 of the people going to websites being less than thrilled with their experiences online.

Start using the tools available to find out what your customers actually want… not just what you think they want. Surveys are a great way to start.

Start by getting your customers to answer your questions

The number one complaint I hear people say about asking their customers to complete surveys is, “I can’t ever get anyone to respond.”

I understand. I’ve had the same problem in the past. Here are a few tips to get responses:

1. Be direct, clear and don’t ask for anything else in the email

I’ve made the mistake of confusing my email recipients by talking about too many things in the email and then having the call to action for taking the survey as almost an afterthought.  Surprise, surprise… no one answered my questions.

Make this email simple, short and to the point. Keep it to only a few lines and make the link highly visible.

2. Phrase your email subject as a sincere but small request

If you have a good relationship with your email list, many of the people on it will be more than happy to take a minute to answer your questions. Frame your email title as a question along the lines of, “Can you do me a favor and answer 3 quick Qs for me?

By letting people know that your request:

  • Will be a small commitment of their time
  • Serves a purpose – Let them know in the body of the email how it will improve their experience with your products/brand. The word because is magic.
  • Is highly appreciated and valued

you’re giving them fewer reasons to say “no” in their head.

Also, once someone agrees to a modest request, it’s far easier to get them to accept a larger one. This is considered getting a “Foot in the door” or a compliance/commitment technique studied extensively in the realm of psychology.

Go for a small yes and the likelihood of you getting a bigger one down the road increases.

3. Quantify your incentive (if you offer one)

Incentives to take email surveys, i.e. coupons, free downloads, one-on-one sessions, don’t always work. It really depends on your audience. So, be prepared for a bit of trial and error.

If you do decide to offer an incentive, make sure to quantify it. Let’s say you’re offering a free download to an e-book you sell. Don’t just say, “Take the survey and get my e-book for free.”

Make sure you quantify the value. If you normally charge $25 for your book, you need to tell your readers the reward for taking the survey is $25. Then, remind them how much $25 is worth – anchor it to something else like paying for a hardback bestseller at full price. Finally, hit on their fear of loss and the fact that if they pass this up, they’re essentially throwing away money and the chance to learn more about whatever it is you have to offer.

Say something like…

When was the last time you made $25 for sharing your thoughts for a mere 3 minutes?

Use good survey tools

There are plenty of online tools out there from free to paid versions that you can use. Here are just a few of the ones that I like:

Survey Monkey – They have both a free and paid version. The free version allows for 10 questions per survey and 100 responses per survey. This will not be enough for larger small businesses but if you are just starting out or want to send a very targeted survey by email to only a small segment of your list, it’s a good option.

Google Forms – They aren’t fancy (although there are some templates to choose from with graphics) but, they get the job done. Plus, Google does a very good job of allowing you to synthesize your data/answers into a user-friendly spreadsheet form.

Typeform –  This service has by far the most elegant and versatile types of forms. I started using it when it was in beta and loved it. Now that it’s out of beta, there is a cost to unlock your responses – unless you only use their “Core” features. If branding and the style of your forms is important to what you’re trying to accomplish, this may be the way to go. It’s definitely worth checking out.

Start thinking about gathering your customer data now

Whether it’s through surveys you send via email, pop-up surveys on your website, or phone interviews, understanding what makes your customers and prospects tick will make for more engaging content and the copy that makes it up.

This article was first published here, written by Jennifer Havice for Make Mention Media.

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