It takes a village to grow a successful business. And that village includes not just the people who build and sustain your brand, but the people who benefit from it as well — your customers.

Getting customer feedback via email outreach can be integral to helping your company improve customer experience in several key areas, including support, retention, acquisition, sales, and marketing. After all, who better knows how good of a job you’re doing (or not doing) connecting with your customers than your customers themselves?

We’re covering the basics of email-driven feedback to help you learn how to gather the responses necessary for lasting success. Here’s what to know.

Feedback Starts with Getting Your Message Through the Door

You can’t collect feedback if you can’t get in front of users in the first place. The average email marketing open rate is only 19.96 percent, and you’ll need to match (or better yet, exceed) that if you want to get enough meaningful feedback.

Some ways to do it:

  • Clearly state your business or name. Make sure your subscribers easily recognize who the email is from.
  • Create compelling subject lines. Stand out while giving an accurate summary of what your email is about.
  • Use the preview pane to your advantage. Include a call to action that compels recipients to open your email.
  • Analyze your stats. See what day and time you get the highest open rates, and use this information to your advantage.

Your recipients are busy, so send timely follow-ups to catch some of the users that slipped through the cracks during the first round of feedback collection. So long as you’re polite — and not pushy — you should be able to fill in some of the gaps.

Get to Know Your Users Through Surveys and Polls

You’ve got your customers’ attention, now what?

User feedback is invaluable. But without a reliable way to capture it, you’ll miss out on opportunities to increase retention and grow your business. You’ll want to gather all the insights (including the bad), and polls and surveys are viable methods for obtaining information.

There are many types of polls and surveys you can use for feedback collection. Basic methods are used to learn more about aspects such as customer satisfaction, while more advanced tactics can give you insight into your advocates.

Whatever approach you take, keep in mind that a good poll or survey should consist of the following:

  1. Well-defined objective. Craft your polls and surveys with a clear objective. By knowing what you want to find out, you can optimize both the questions you ask and how you ask them.
  2. Sensible questions. Make your questions count. Gear them toward gathering new insights rather than just supporting things you already know.
  3. Comprehensive format. You have a few different format options, including open-ended questions, closed-ended questions, and multiple-choice formats. Experiment so you can figure out which gets you the best feedback.
  4. Solid structure. Your survey should have a beginning, middle, and end. Start with easy questions to encourage participation, then get to the heart of the matter. From there, wrap up with a couple of open-ended questions that get your audience really thinking.
  5. Clarity. Don’t ask confusing questions. Keep your polls and surveys straightforward and focused.
  6. Relevance. Is every person on your list equipped to answer your questions? Do your questions hold the same meaning for everyone? If you’re not sure, it may be best to create questionnaires for different contact segments.

Targeted Your Audience with Psychographic Segmentation

While email polls and surveys are great for getting feedback, but nothing reveals your users’ wants, like actual results. For that, you’ll want to do more targeted testing.

Email testing (think A/B testing) and measurements (your campaign analytics) help you understand how your audience responds to certain elements, including types of content and outreach frequencies. Both enable you to set up psychographic segments for targeting your list based on individual desires and preferences.

Psychographic segmentation is about basing your targeting strategy on unique variables like interests, lifestyle, and behavioral patterns. It is these kinds of variables that offer insight into the psyche of your users and can help you determine how segments will respond to certain content. For instance, if your reports indicate that a group of subscribers hasn’t opened any messages in the last three months, they may make a fitting segment for a re-engagement program. This allows you one more opportunity to re-capture their attention before removing all disengaged users from your master list.

Customers are arguably your best source of information, and their feedback is integral to the continued growth and success of your business. All of the efforts mentioned above can help you encourage your customers to transcend from mere consumer to active user. If you can offer flexibility and attentiveness that online marketing demands, recipients will reward you with the feedback you need to thrive.