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In the excitement of the latest email marketing buzzwords such as using dynamic content, triggered campaign sends, improving deliverability rates and integrating databases, many email marketers are forgetting one of the most powerful uses of email marketing. 

Email is excellent at driving people to surveys and gathering essential customer intelligence.

A readership survey for Adestra client Informa had a 7.9% response* (see below for full case study). To get the opinion of over one in twelve people on your lists on your brand, your marketing, your product and more will provide essential ideas to power your testing plans for the rest of the year.

There are some golden rules to think about when constructing an online survey:

• Don’t stick the form within the email: systems like Hotmail will block the form from submitting by stripping out the FORM tag and other web mail systems pop up a warning window. There is nothing more annoying than filling in a survey then not being able to submit it! 

If you host it on a web site you can link to it, and therefore track people that start to submit it then give up half way through. This gives you an audience to ‘remarket’ to, and increase your conversion rate.  

• Don’t make it too long: too many questions will limit the number of people able to spare the time to complete it. The optimum length of a survey form will depend on your brand and the recipient’s personal affiliation with it.

• Make sure you have enough respondents to make the results worthwhile: with all surveys, having enough respondents to make the results statistically significant and not skewed by a small number of respondents is key.

• Validate to get complete surveys: if key questions are important, use validation to make sure that your respondents fill them in!     

• Don’t forget the number crunching!  Online surveys lend themselves most to closed questions where the respondent has to select a specific answer rather than answer with open comments. Closed answers are easier to analyse, cross tabulate and interpret.

• Incentives: Certain incentives attract certain people.  If you offer a strategic report, only people interested in that topic will complete it. If you offer an iPod, anyone will fill it out.  Think through who your incentive will appeal to.

• Thank then: when the survey is completed, always serve up a thank you page so that they know their results have been successfully submitted.

Don’t forget, that there is a danger inherent in asking people’s opinions.  If they tell you they’d like you to change something, and you ignore them, you will not create the correct impressions!

Henry Hyder-Smith
Adestra’s Managing Director

Informa Case Study:

“A Week in Wireless” is a weekly eZine managed by Adestra to over 20,000 international decision-makers in wireless telecoms. Providing a humorous review and commentary of the week’s major happenings, the email newsletter is free (if you meet the terms of circulation) and carries advertising.

Now in its 4th year, the team behind the title worked closely with Adestra to conduct a ‘reader survey’ campaign. The survey was promoted by email to all recipients, and then a fortnight later a follow-up email was sent to all non-responding contacts. Every respondent was entered into a prize draw to win an industry research report.

The online survey of 13 questions included:

• Pre-filled questions for data cleaning
• New questions to build profile of recipients
• Feedback questions to solicit opinion about the service
• Cross selling messages to encourage signing up for other email newsletters


Results collected over a 3 week period since the first email was sent...

• Over 1,500 people completed the survey confirming their details and providing additional data fields which is 7.9% of the entire population
• Of those people that clicked through to the form, on average 81% of people completed the form
• The insight has already suggested some interesting methods of improving the newsletter further

Henry Hyder-Smith

Published 8 August, 2007 by Henry Hyder-Smith

Henry Hyder Smith is MD at Adestra and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

23 more posts from this author

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