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8 Tricks to Get More Responses on Your Survey Request Emails

It’s easy to send surveys to your list, but not as easy to get people to engage. Jimmy Rodriguez, the COO of Shift4Shop, talks about some of the best tactiss you could use for your survey request emails.

The feedback you gain from customers about your products and services is the most valuable data you can collect. Listening to your customers and acting on their sentiments can improve customer satisfaction and boost sales. That is why sending out periodic surveys to monitor customer satisfaction is so important.

How to get more engagement on your survey request emails

The tricky part, though, is getting people to fill out your survey. Businesses that don’t encourage users to answer surveys have low response rates and get poor-quality answers.

Here are eight tried and true methods to help boost your survey response rates.

#1. Describe the motivation and goals of the survey 

The first step to getting higher survey response rates is engaging the audience. You can build the first few lines of your survey request emails around the following points:

  • “Your opinion matters”: Show you value their opinions. You can explain how their feedback will impact the quality of your product and their overall brand experience
  • “This is why we’re conducting the survey”: Define the objective of your survey and link that to how it will improve the quality of experience to the customers. 
  • “The survey will take 5 minutes to answer”: Give them an idea of how long it will take to complete the survey. That helps set their expectations.

However you choose to word your introduction, you need to place yourself in your customers’ shoes and ask yourself if you’d answer your survey. If your introduction doesn’t engage you, it won’t encourage your customers either.

#2. Keep your survey short and sweet – or make respondents feel like it is

One study shows that 45% of respondents will complete a survey if it takes five minutes. The figure drops to 25% if it takes 10 minutes or more. For a higher response rate, you can limit the fields a respondent has to fill in. 

If you need to send a long-form survey, there are some workarounds you can use to keep the respondent engaged through to the end. 

First, include a progress bar to show how much of the survey is completed. If your survey has ten questions, then each question represents 10% of the survey. If the respondent is on question six, the survey bar will show that they’re already halfway through the questions.

You may also use skip logic and branching.

Think of branching and skip logic as a Choose Your Own Adventure book: future questions will depend on how the respondent answers specific questions. Let’s say you’re surveying transportation options. If a respondent says they don’t have a car of their own, you can skip the car-related questions and ask questions about their bus- or train-riding habits instead.

You may also have multiple-choice questions with checkboxes, dropdown menus, and radio buttons. Customers don’t like typing their answers, so they’ll appreciate anything that will make the process easier. However, you must avoid using open-ended questions and keep the questionnaire to ten questions or less. 

#3. Consider incentives

We all love free stuff. When you throw in a discount or a free item when you have products to sell online, the chances of people buying those products increase. 

Incentives are also very effective in encouraging users to answer surveys, with 34% of people saying they complete feedback surveys just so they’d get the prize, gift, or discount being offered.

The downside is that you could get many responses from people who only want the incentive. That can corrupt feedback accuracy since they are more likely to use the default answers. 

survey request emails

A simple way to get around this while still offering them an incentive of value is to offer to donate a fixed amount to their favorite charity for each completed survey. This ensures that the responses you get will be an accurate measure of how the respondent views your product or service.

Most people will take the time and give accurate responses if you are transparent with your needs. 

#4. Gamify your survey

Turning your survey into a game with appropriate rewards at the end will help engage your audience. Gamified surveys work because they make people feel like they’re working towards a worthwhile goal. 

You can encourage users to share the survey on their social media accounts by adding a competitive element to a survey too.

For example, you might have a leaderboard. You can offer prizes to the people who generate the most referrals. A system like this can help you increase the number of responses you get for your survey.

#5. Be persistent without getting annoying

You need a 25-30% response rate for the results to be statistically valid. Of course, that is just a minimum. Ideally, you’re looking for a response rate of around 50%, and you’re not going to get this without repeated follow-ups with your audience. This means you may be persistent but not annoying.

The vast majority of email marketing campaigns stop at just one email. However, you will need to send more than just one email to get better results. Here’s a sample survey reminder email that you can send to your subscribers: 

customer surveys

The email above keeps things light and simple. It doesn’t pressure the reader to respond but instead invites them to take the survey. It also contains a link to the survey so the reader can access it without searching through their inbox.

If a person ignores the first request for feedback, it doesn’t mean they are not interested in sharing their thoughts and opinions. Remember, it always helps to make the person feel important. Hence, try this approach with your second email. 

marketing tips

Making your customer feel like a VIP will make them more likely to complete and return your survey request. 

# 6. Personalize your survey requests

In a way, this is an extension of making the customer feel like a VIP. However, it merits a special and separate mention.

We all get survey requests that start with, “Dear Customer.” These surveys bother me a lot. A part of me goes, I’ve been using your product for several years now, and I’m still just another customer? 

In contrast, personalizing your email allows you to address the person directly and let them know that your brand knows and appreciates them. According to the International Journal of Social Research Methodology, personalizing web surveys increases response rates by up to 8%.   

Here’s a simple example you can follow for your survey reminder emails:

request survey by email

Personalizing your communication should be a basic rule for all your brand communications, including your survey requests. By personalizing your communication and subject line, you don’t just get better answers; you also increase open email rates and improve the deliverability of future survey emails. 

# 7. Timing is key

The objective of all surveys (apart from the data you want to collect) is to get the highest possible response rate. Hence, it makes sense to know the day and time when it is most likely to be opened. The trick is to find the window that gives the highest open and respond window.  

This will differ from business to business, but a general rule is that:

  • surveys sent on Mondays normally get the highest responses
  • surveys sent on Fridays have the lowest response rates. 

However, keep in mind the profile of your customers when deciding the timing of your survey email. Working hours on Monday, between 10 am to 2 pm, works well for the office-going crowd.

However, if your audience is doctors and nurses working round-the-clock shifts, you may need a wider window (say 11 am to 11 pm). See what works for your niche and stick to it consistently. 

# 8. Share the survey results with your audience

Sharing the survey results with your audience is another best practice. It’s a nice way to say thanks for the time you took to complete the survey. It’s also an opportunity to show the value of the information that you gathered and reveal how you plan to use the data.

How you share the results depends on how you sent out the survey in the first place. If you sent survey emails, they might be interested in learning about the results. 

Let’s say your target audience was your existing customers, and you emailed them the survey. Then, an email to thank them for their participation and to share the results is appropriate.

If you want to go a step further, you can create and embed an infographic of the result and provide a link to a more detailed analysis.

Learn from your audience so you can create better surveys

Getting your audience’s pulse takes time and patience. If you’re just starting with using surveys to collect and analyze data, your response rate won’t be optimal the first time around, the second, or even the third.

However, you can use those initial attempts to learn more about your audience and design surveys that they’ll be more than willing to answer.

If you’re in a hurry, though, you can use the eight best practices I’ve just discussed. They will set your respondents’ expectations, increase their response rates, help you get better answers, and give you opportunities for audience engagement.

By integrating these eight best practices into all your survey requests, over time you will build consistent response rates for your surveys.

Author: Jimmy Rodriguez is the COO of Shift4Shop, a completely free, enterprise-grade eCommerce solution. He’s dedicated to helping internet retailers succeed online by developing digital marketing strategies and shopping experiences that drive conversions and improve business performance.