Email remains the best marketing channel to reach people and get your message heard. It is also the most popular method for distributing surveys. However, there’s more to it than merely adding a survey link and hoping for the best.

Customer and subscriber feedback are business gold. Hence, email surveys are an excellent and effective way to gather more insight from your audience. You can, of course, use social media or your website to distribute a survey but… by sending a survey through email, you can craft more precise questions targeted at known specific audiences.


“Every email is a customer survey of your target market, by testing they vote on what resonates best with them.” – Kath Pay

A survey’s success highly depends on the channel used to distribute it. Back in the old days when the Internet was still making burbling noises and ISDN telephone lines made you a trendsetting early adopter, marketers had a limited number of options. It was either 30 to 40 min. spent on the phone to give your feedback or filling in a mailed survey form and then mailing it back – both of which are highly time-consuming. It comes as no surprise that survey response rates at that time were not encouraging. However, nowadays, with email being the most dominant marketing channel, the majority of marketers and businesses utilise it to send surveys. But, do you know how to create an email survey? 

In this article, we’ll cover the following topics:

  1. What is an email survey?
  2. Types of email surveys
  3. How to create an email survey?
  4. Email survey best practice
  5. Email survey examples 

Ready to dive in?

The people on your email list have opted-in because they want to interact with you regularly. They will, without a doubt, have valuable insights for you. Thus, by sending them a survey asking the right questions, you’ll gather more knowledge and consequently be able to send them more highly-personalised marketing emails providing a better experience.

What are email surveys? They are the most efficient data collection method used for gathering quantitative data through a series of targeted questions sent to targeted audiences through email.

Why use email for distributing surveys? Firstly, recent data shows that 72% of people prefer brands contacting them via email. Secondly, email allows the integration of multiple interactive elements. For example, you can send an event confirmation, a receipt, a promo ad and a survey invitation all within one email. To top it off, you can send multiple highly targeted surveys to segmented email lists allowing you to collect more focused customer data and, consequently, send more highly-personalised marketing campaigns.

Before you start creating your email survey, however, you must first plan your email survey strategy. Thus, consider the following questions –  

  • What is your email survey’s goal and what type of email survey will you send?
  • Why are you sending an email survey?
  • When are you planning to send it?
  • Who will you send your email survey to?
  • How will you use your email survey results?

Be specific about the objective of your email survey and make sure it’s clear what the results will be used for, for example – improving customer experience. Remember, once your email survey’s goal is set, you’ll have a clear roadmap for the next steps – defining the correct survey type, the creation and appropriate collection process.

Types of Surveys

Marketers can share email surveys with their targeted audience via two methods: embedded surveys and redirect surveys.

Embedded email surveys or email inline surveys are surveys which, as the name implies, can be embedded in the email allowing respondents to answer questions directly within the email body. Recipients will often skip exhaustive, long and complex surveys. Therefore, make sure you keep your embedded email survey short, sweet and to the point with simple closed questions.

[Most popular] Redirect email surveys are surveys which use links to redirect the recipient to the survey’s landing page. Marketers will either link an image to the survey page or hyperlink text within the email copy. The latter normally include a call-to-action (CTA) saying something like “Let Us Know What You Think” or “Take Part In Our Survey”. This method is usually utilised when the surveys are quite lengthy including closed-ended and open-ended questions as well as multiple-choice questions. 

There are three popular and most commonly used types of email surveys in business –

1) Customer Surveys

If only you could peek into your customers’ ever-elusive mind and figure out what they are thinking? Oh wait, you can. With customer surveys, you can ask recipients for their feedback about products, services, customer support, etc. This type of email survey allows you to gain better insight into how people discovered your product/service, what they think can be improved or how satisfied they are with the product, service, customer support, customer experience and more. Overall, customer surveys can be utilised to drive growth by collecting information which can influence your email marketing campaigns, the customer service process and product development.

2) Net Promoter Score (NPS) Surveys

Do customers love your product or service enough to recommend it to others? If you want to know then this is where Net Promoter Score (NPS) comes into play. NPS is a customer satisfaction benchmark measuring the likelihood of your customers recommending your product or service to their friends, family, colleagues, etc. According to stats, 19% of purchase decisions and nearly 30% of all purchases made in tech are due to word-of-mouth marketing. Thus, making your customers your best marketers.

NPS is calculated based on the recipients’ responses to one question – “How likely are you to recommend EmailOut to a friend or a colleague?” The answer (score) is often based on a 0 to 10 scale and categorised into three groups – 

1) Promoters – customers who give scores of 9 or 10
2) Passives – customers giving scores of 7 or 8
3) Detractors – customers who rate you between 0 and 6

Formula: % of promoters – % of detractors = NPS
Example: You surveyed 200 customers. If 40% were detractors and only 60% were promoters, your NPS would be 60% – 40% = 20. 

3) Marketing Surveys 

If your goal is to gain new customers and reach potential prospects then you need a solid understanding of trends and leads’ preferences, interests and needs in your industry sector. Cue, marketing surveys. 

By running a marketing survey within or outside of your database (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc.), you can collect more relevant, true and accurate information to understand the marketplace. Marketing surveys questions such as “What pain-points motivated you to look for a new ESP?” or “What is your allocated budget for email marketing?” allow you to look for specific data in a specific industry. 

Furthermore, by collecting and analysing the data from such surveys, you can educate your fellow marketers about the behaviours, preferences, trends, challenges and purchase patterns of a specific audience. 

How To Create An Email Survey?

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to find out how you can create an email survey using various tools like Microsoft Excel, Google Forms or SurveyMonkey.

Creating An Email Survey With Microsoft Excel 

For creating a survey with Microsoft Excel, you must follow six very simple steps – 

1) Log in to your Microsoft 365 – you can either set it up on OneDrive or create a new account
2) Select ‘New’ and then ‘Forms survey’ from the drop-down menu
3) Give your form a title and a description
4) Choose the type of answer respondents will submit
5) Fill in the questions until the form is complete
6) Select how you will distribute the survey by clicking on the ‘Send’ button

 

Creating An Email Survey With Google Forms

To create a survey with Google Forms, you will need to follow seven simple steps – 

1) Open your Google account and select ‘Forms’
2) Choose a template from the gallery or create a blank one
3) Give the form a title and a description
4) Create your questions and choose the type of responses recipients can submit
5) (optional) Add multimedia elements
6) Adjust the form settings (gearbox)
7) Choose how you will distribute the survey

How To Create An Email Survey? | Google Forms | EmailOut.com - free email marketing software 

Creating An Email Survey With SurveyMonkey 

Marketers sign up for a free (or paid) account with SurveyMonkey – an online survey tool. Once you register for an account, you must follow four simple steps to create a survey – 

1) Choose the type of survey you want to create
2) Give your survey a name and select a category
3) Create your survey questions or choose recommended ones from the question bank
4) Choose how you will distribute your survey ( the free plan limits your ‘share’ options)

How To Create An Email Survey? | SurveyMonkey | EmailOut.com - free email marketing software
[EmailOut allows you to send your survey to 50,000 recipients during your first months free trial – open an account now]

Email Survey Best Practice

Each survey will have a different purpose and goal(s). Therefore, follow these best practices to ensure your survey will be as catchy and effective as possible.

1) Keep it simple and to the point

The hardest part of crafting a survey is to ensure it’s focused on one thing. Don’t ask irrelevant questions unrelated to the goal of your survey. Respect your recipients’ time and in return, they will work with you and tell you what they think.

2) Introduce your survey

Since you are using email to distribute your survey, make sure you’ve explained to the recipients – whether they are a customer or a prospect – why they should participate. You don’t need to write a novel. Just a few sentences clearly stating what the survey is about, why they were selected, how valuable their participation is, how long it will be and don’t forget to show your gratitude.

3) Craft a compelling email subject line for your survey

Recent stats show that 47% of recipients open emails solely based on the subject line. Don’t put generic stuff like “Customer Survey Inside”, you’d be doomed. Instead, show your recipients how important this survey is by using a subject line which will make it pretty hard for them not to open the email. Take a look at a few very catchy and effective subject line examples – 

  • Hi [FirstName], we need your help – Tell us how we can serve you better.
  • Hey [FirstName], what are your thoughts on our new feature?
  • [FirstName], we would love your insight!
  • Can you answer 5 questions that will help us change our company?
  • How can EmailOut improve?
  • Help Us, Help You! (Win an XX% discount)
  • Win a Prize After You’ve Shared Your Thoughts

4) Achieve the best survey results by targeting the right audience

The biggest advantage of using email to distribute your survey is that it allows you to segment your audience for more precise targeting and optimal results. By sending surveys to segmented email lists, you can craft very specific questions targeting the recipients’ interests which will, consequently, provide more accurate data. 

5) Test your email survey before you send it

Before you unleash your email survey to your audience, ask your team to test it to make sure the questions are on point, make sense and aren’t biased or confusing. 

6) Make sure your email survey is responsive and mobile-friendly

Regardless of the device, your recipients must be able to read and participate in your email survey with ease. Therefore, make sure your survey will render on multiple devices. 

Email Survey Examples

Are you ready to get your creative juices flowing and craft an amazing email survey? Don’t worry if you’re not there yet. I have gathered some fantastic email survey examples to get you inspired.

1) Bonobos – they’ve made their email survey copy personal, short, catchy and simple while showing they value their recipients’ time.

2) Kate Spade NY  – this email survey stands out for a few reasons – a bright happy background colour, an eye-catching font, cool emojis and polite tone of voice. To top it all off, it also creates a sense of urgency and offers an incentive if recipients participate. 

3) King Arthur Flour – this survey example combines all elements of what makes an ideal survey. It is short, simple, yummy (who doesn’t love pie?), includes a reward and reminds recipients about the company’s product – a quintuple threat. 

4) Dropbox – certain kinds of services or products require a more professional style and delivering the message shortly and concisely while also making it clear participants will be redirected to a survey landing page as well as the time it’ll take them to fill in the survey.

5) Slack – this company treats its subscribers as VIPs making each recipient feel special. Their survey invitation is short and simple outlining the time it’ll take to participate. 

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of ways you can survey your customers, subscribers and prospects. However, email remains one of the most popular and effective ways to do it. It is, without a question, one of the top channels for gathering essential insight to help you refine your products, services and processes.

Now that you know all the different types of surveys, how to create an email survey and the top email survey best practices, are you ready to get started?

Remember, helpful and focused customer feedback are business gold and email surveys allow you to mine for it.

Highly recommended further reading – 

1)  Email Personalisation 101
2) How To Prevent Email Marketing Mistakes
3) Subject Line Mistakes To Avoid

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