As email marketers, we spend a lot of time analysing our engagement and conversion metrics as an indicator of the value our email marketing provides to subscribers.

However, this only tells one side of the story.

Have you ever wanted to know how a customer feels after engaging with your company? How they felt after they received a particular service, product or event? What is the likelihood of them recommending you to a friend, colleague, or decision maker within their company?

Receiving user-generated feedback, such as survey responses, testimonials and ratings, can serve as a dual purpose by being leveraged for marketing campaigns and can also help optimise your proposition by identifying any challenges faced by your audience.

The experience that a customer has with your business, defines one of your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Net Promoter Scores (NPS) are a good indication of a customer’s loyalty to your brand and services. The higher your NPS score is, the more likely somebody is willing to recommend your company to others.

Customer feedback allows you to spot trends on particular issues that repeat over a period of time and this is the type of data that you’ll want to take action on.

One of the keys to success is leveraging this type of feedback into your marketing efforts and using it within the right stage of the customer lifecycle mix. In this article, we look at the basics and the benefits of email marketing surveys.

Matching feedback tools to your needs

The most common use of feedback tools are surveys.

Cost-effective, flexible and easy to target, email marketing surveys can be set-up quickly without much technical knowledge. Any additional demographic data collected through surveys can be applied straight back into updating the customer’s record in Salesforce or the CRM you are using.

Surveys can be a permanent or timed feature depending on if they are service or promotional led.

Not all feedback needs to come in the form of multiple questions. If you’re considering producing a whitepaper or a guide and want to know if this topic would be of interest to your audience, a ‘feedback box’ on your website is a good way of receiving binary yes/no propositions to particular questions.

Placements within email marketing such as polls, reply-to addresses and contact pages, all allow various ways of subscribers to easily provide feedback.

What to consider before starting your email marketing survey

Determine who you are targeting. The questions of the survey need to fit the demographic you are connecting with.

The segment also has to be large enough to ensure you’ll receive enough replies to validate your findings and increase your chances of a better conversion rate. This also allows you to determine where your generated leads are coming from.

You’ll need to receive actionable outcomes from the answers to your questions. Finding out what customers think is useful, but less so if you don’t have a clear plan on what you’re actually going to do with the responses.

Consider receiving buy in from both your marketing and sales teams to ensure responses are aligned to personas and objectives that will either generate leads or assist in making better business decisions.

You’re trying to collect marketing assets that can be used across all customer lifecycle stages. Ideally you want the survey to answer at least three of your target personas goals, so that responses can be repurposed for marketing use.

Best practices for using email marketing surveys

The main driver of responses is based upon the length of time needed to provide feedback and the prospect of receiving an incentive that is valuable enough to warrant the attention of the respondent.

For some audiences, it is the actionable outcome of the responses that are the incentive.

Are any changes going to be implemented? Will they be able utilise the outcome of the survey to do their job better? Will it allow them to make better informed decisions for their customers?

The number of questions should be on your testing plans for the year and measured for completions. Don’t include any leading or biased wording.

8 to 12 questions are an ideal starting point, longer if targeted towards advocates or clients who frequently engage with your brand.

Frequent engagers (found based on their engagement scores) are a good starting segment to target as they are far more likely to provide feedback. This will also help with benchmarks before releasing to wider audiences.

Whilst questions should be targeted towards your audience, it’s worth including some generalised questions that can be used across different customer segments. Think about keeping some of the same questions year-over- year, so that it’s easy to deliver valid comparisons.

At every opportunity, ask if they would recommend you to a colleague or friend. Positive answers are a high value indicator, and can be used for marketing or sales purposes by identifying prospects in the awareness and consideration stages.

Dropdown menus provide pre-arranged answers, this keeps variables or typos out of response data, with free text boxes available at the end for people to write any comments or suggestions.

To reduce people from dropping off, include a progress bar or page number to let them know where they are in the process and how close they are to completing, so it’s clear to see how much more there is to go.

Survey Progress Bar

Identify someone in the business responsible for replying to any feedback or enquiries within a 24-hour period. Intervening in real time to any complaints or negative reviews and being able to rectify those, means expectations are exceeded and brand reputation is increased.

When and where to ask for client and prospect feedback

People are more likely to provide feedback when their interaction with your company is still fresh in their mind.

If a customer has just completed an onboarding process, asking for feedback on how they found the journey, such as the ease of use or length of time taken, can help identify and remove any unnecessary steps. This ‘feedback type’ email marketing can be included as part of your concluding welcome programme.

Emails containing links offering feedback methods can be automated, triggered on the back of changes or actions within a customer record, such as switching from a prospect to a customer within the database.

On providing feedback, there should be an instantaneous follow-up email (as well as an onsite message) that proclaims thanks for taking the time out and, crucially, what the next actions or follow up will be. For example, letting them know that the outcome or results will be sent to them within a certain timeframe.

Post-sales surveys are a good way of showing customers that you care about their feedback after transaction has occurred.

Unsubscribe page surveys are an excellent way of finding out why subscribers are leaving you.

Is the content still relevant to their needs? Do they remember how they even got on your list? Are you sending too many emails? This can help address cadence and scheduling issues you may come across.

Testing opportunities should be a key part of your feedback strategy. Testing areas such as engaging subject lines, send times and the number of questions featured, will help maximise your completion rate.

How to use feedback to your advantage

You can use feedback tools to collect further Information on customers and prospects if you have demographic gaps within your data as part of a progressive sign up strategy, though ensure you have links to your privacy and data policies, so that subscribers can see how you intend to use this data.

Results can be dissected and utilised across many different aspects of the customer lifecycle stage.

Consider mapping the feedback type to the most appropriate part of the marketing funnel juncture.

As part of your lead generation activity, positive ratings or testimonials that address your target market’s key challenges and pain points can be leveraged from existing customers as part of the brand awareness stage.

Results can be compiled into an eBook, report or whitepaper which can be used to as an acquisition method to further build your email list. These types of feedback can be employed over the research stage as prospects do their due diligence on finding the right solution for their needs. These can also be shared by market influencers who can promote and share within their network.

As part of the consideration stage, testimonials and reviews (along with demos and case studies) are ideal to address, as key requirements such as cost, ease of use and differentiators are being considered, before moving onto at a deep dive into your products and services at the buying stage.

Feedback tools can be followed up with nurture programs, using the data collected. If there is a change within the customer record, pre-created automated trigger campaigns can be deployed in real time. Allocate lead scoring against their actions within the nurture program to qualify leads.

Need help with your surveys?

If you’d like assistance with setting up customer feedback opportunities, StoneShot has a dedicated team of experts who can offer services to drive your email activities.

If you want to learn more about financial email marketing, subscribe to the StoneShot blog to receive further insights.