7 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Survey Emails

So many survey recruitment emails seem to be sent on autopilot, without any thought of creativity or user engagement. Contributor Andrew King has suggestions to help you wake up your survey request emails — and improve your response rates.


Email is one of the most popular channels for distributing a survey. But for some reason, most of the emails I receive that include a survey look like they were thrown together as an afterthought.

Many have boring subject lines and uninspiring copy and creative, so I rarely feel compelled to participate. If your emails with surveys are lacking opens, engagement and click-throughs, here are my seven tips for improving them:

1. Craft Compelling Subject Lines

Typical survey subject lines:

  • Customer satisfaction survey

  • Take our survey
  • Let us know what you think
  • Satisfaction survey
  • We want your feedback

I don’t know about you, but these subject lines just don’t do it for me. Yes, they do make it clear what awaits me inside of the email, but they definitely don’t encourage me to open.

I’d be more likely to open if the subject line set my expectations, told me what’s in it for me and had some personalization. I realize that sounds hard — but it’s really not. Most ESPs offer options that do all those things and more.

Here are some survey subject lines which caught my eye:

  • Take our short survey and get 20% off
  • How was your experience? Take our quick survey
  • We’d love your feedback! It’ll only take 3 minutes
  • Andrew, we want you to give us the scoop!

If you’re stuck for subject line inspiration, then it’s worth taking a look at Touchstone, a subject line testing app which lets you simulate a split test without having to actually send an email.

2. Get To The Point Quickly

Your subscribers are busy people, and you are asking them to spend their time taking your survey. So don’t waste their time with a lengthy email about how valuable their input is. They are mainly interested in what’s in it for them and how long it will take to complete. Take longer than 15 seconds to get those two points across and you’ve probably lost most of them.

This short and sweet survey email from Airbnb is a perfect example of how to do this right. I like how it’s personalized with my name, includes just one short paragraph of text and a large call-to-action button.

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3. Set Expectations

Please don’t send your subscribers to a 50-page survey without setting expectations about how long it will take in your email.

You may have noticed that the above example from Airbnb stated that their survey will only take three minutes. I also really like this example from Campaign Monitor (my employer), who sent this micro-survey to subscribers of our blog.

The call-to-action button is a great touch. We don’t say how long it will take, but we do say three questions.

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4. Incentivize — What’s In It For Them?

Giving your subscribers an incentive for filling out your survey is definitely a good way to boost participation.

However, be careful to only use an incentive when necessary. For example, short surveys like the one above or product reviews don’t usually warrant an incentive. Kate Spade gives subscribers a strong incentive to complete this survey, and the company has communicated it with compelling creative and minimal text.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 5.13.14 PM

5. Make Your Review Email More Relevant

Having high-quality reviews on your website has been proven to help increase sales. So it’s worth putting some time and effort into making your review email requests stand out.

One of the best ways to do this is to personalize the content of your review email with text and images from the product they purchased.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 5.14.19 PM

6. Get The Survey Started Within The Email

Even if you follow all of the tips above, it still can be challenging to get people to respond to your survey.

Why not remove one more barrier by embedding a survey question directly within your email?

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to embed the entire survey within the email, as many email clients would reject the code required to do that. However, this technique could produce higher click-through and survey completion rates, so it’s worth trying out.

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7. Mobile-Optimize The Entire Experience

Finally, it’s not really worth sending your subscribers a survey that they can’t complete on a mobile device. In fact, I think that so many people have had a terrible experience with a survey they’ve tried to complete on their mobile device that they’re probably too annoyed to click through.

So make sure that you use mobile-friendly survey software, and don’t be afraid to make your subscribers aware of this within your survey email.



Do you have any other tips for optimizing survey emails? Please feel free to share them with us.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)


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