Email Surveys: Gathering Data The Easy Way

Fewer technologies have done more for marketing than email. It's fast, inexpensive, and delivers a lot of data to pore over. But one facet of email marketing tends to be grossly underused -- and it's a shame because it's a great, easy way to gather invaluable client data. That facet is email marketing surveys and polling.

When you use email marketing to send out email surveys or you place a poll right on your Website, you're doing more than bypassing the usual mail or telephone survey. You're saving money, connecting with your recipients, and showing all your permission-based subscribers that you truly care what they think. Keep reading for more info.

Email surveys and polls: a list of applications

What can you use your email surveys to do? Here's a good list:

Gather feedback on your products or services
Improve your product offering, seasonal line or list of services
Find out if your customer service is suiting your client needs
Discover which products are most popular with customers
Find out how your customers are using your products and services
Uncover ancillary products that customers want to see you sell
Gather feedback on a special event or sale
Find out how you can improve your Website or the sales process

The items listed above are the tip of the iceberg. Use surveys and polling to truly get the pulse of your customers and shape your business based on the responses of your recipients.

When you sign up for a paid plan, Benchmark Email lets you build custom email polls and surveys that you can place on your Website or send through email. These highly customizable polls allow you to create a design that matches your business look, use your own logo and even create your own questions and answer format options.

Email polling vs. Web polling

There are obvious advantages to polling on your Website or sending a survey via email. Both fulfill the same need by gathering valuable data, but here's how each method differs:

Email polling advantages
Each time you send an email poll, your customers see it as a fresh opportunity to give you feedback on your products and services.
You can send different email polls to different recipients, depending on their needs and interests.
The more people that answer your questions, the better the chance you'll be seen as a good email marketer by email service providers.
You can create a special layout promoting your products and simply use a link to take customers to the survey.
Web polling advantages
You an gather all sorts of data – even data from people who are not your customers – by placing a poll on your site.
You can leave your poll up as long as you want without fear of it disappearing on the second page of email messages.
Your survey clients are already on your site so no need to coax them into clicking a link and going there.
You can run your survey long-term, make improvements and see if your work is successful based upon how the answers to your questions.

If you're not sure whether you want to send out a survey or put one on your Web site, why not do both? View both sets of results in real time, but use your Web poll to gather more email subscriptions.

Solid survey and polling tips

There is a certain science to polling your customers via email or the Web. Here's how to do it right.

Make it brief
Your best possible option for gathering great data is to keep your surveys as short as you possibly can. If you have, say, 20 questions you want to ask your customers, and you plan on sending your survey via email, it's a good idea to divide those questions up in three or four parts, spread out over weeks or even months. When it comes to the Web, you have more freedom. You can divide your survey up into two parts, or simply use an incentive to encourage more people to finish.
Be honest about time
The biggest survey data killer is time. No one wants to start an open-ended survey, spread across five or six Web pages, that may take as little as five minutes or as long as an hour to finish. Promote your survey as being quick and easy. If you've taken your survey and found that it takes only three minutes to finish it, max, then say that. Also, let customers know ahead of time how many questions they'll be expected to answer. If a client goes in knowing that they'll be at their computer answering 20 questions, that's okay. They'll take comfort in knowing you told them ahead of time.
Dangle a carrot
Although we'd all like to see the human race as inherently selfless, let's face it: people often do things when there's something in it for them. Surveys and polling are no different in this respect. Offer your customers something of value in return for their time. This can be a deep discount, a white paper, a special how-to guide, or anything else you can think of. The key to your dangling carrot is value. If your customers can go through your site and find a 10% off coupon with ease, offer them an addition 10% on top of that so they can save a total of 20%.
Leave things open-ended
Multiple choice and true false questions are great when it comes to surveying clients. With them, customers can literally answer an entire survey with just simple clicks of a mouse. However, some customers may feel the need to expand upon their answers, dropping some great data in the meantime. Don't cut off this customer need. Add a space after each question, true or false, multiple choice or otherwise, where they can type in an expanded answer.
Be gracious
Let's be honest here. What customer doesn't like to be thanked for taking the time to do something? It's a small gesture, yes, but it gives the customer a sense of satisfaction that you're not taking them for granted. Add a gracious thank you message at the very end of each survey, telling your customers that not only are you extremely happy and thankful that they took the time to complete your email or Web survey, but that you look forward to seeing their answers because you know that they'll help you make things better on your end.
Make it about them
One of the biggest challenges in email marketing or any ad medium for that matter, is getting clients truly involved in the process. With a message at the end of your email or Web survey that tells customers just how valuable their data is to you, you're ultimately showing them that they're helping you shape how things will be run in the future. This makes each and every customer feel good about their contribution, that they're a part of something bigger, and you'll do well if you follow this tip and give them a stake in the process.

Email and Web polls are cheap, easy to create and gather tons of data to help you shape your business. If you're not already polling your customers and evolving based on the data, now is a great time to get started.

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