One-Click Email Surveys: Painless Polling of Your Database

What do your database contacts really want? Within your email marketing program, all of the A/B testing, tracking and optimization boils down to this one, simple question.

But what’s the best way to ask your database what they want?  If you’ve missed the boat on asking follow-up questions during the opt-in process (when they’re most inclined to volunteer some optional data), you’re going to need some sort of survey or polling mechanism. A survey form embedded within your email is not viable – most email clients will automatically strip out the code.

Including a link to an online survey may not get enough participation (even if you offer an incentive – always recommended, by the way).  Furthermore, individuals with enough time to take a lengthy survey may not be representative of your ideal customer (most C-level execs that I’ve met don’t have time for surveys).

Enter the one-click email survey. We recommend taking the most important profiling question that you want to know and place it into your email layout as a simple, multiple-choice set of links. Because you’re using simple hyperlinks, there is no form code to be stripped out.  Styling the links to look like radio button choices makes it appear more ‘poll-like’.   When your contacts click the links, personalized tracking data associates their click ‘answers’ with their profiles, and they are redirected to a ‘thank you’ page with additional calls-to-action available.

Testing this approach revealed some key insights:

  • Survey participation was significant – 21% for one client (incidentally, it was sent to a list of C-level executives)
  • Inclusion of the survey did not reduce response rate for the email’s primary (non-survey) call-to-action, even when the survey was placed in the upper-right corner of the layout.
  • Unsubscribe rate actually dropped when the survey was included.  This indicates that recipients are more engaged when they know that you care about their preferences.
  • Some users clicked different choices at different times. Since this is really a real-time profile update, simply use the last clicked answer as the current answer (it may change over time, depending on your question).

Over time, you can use this tactic as a soft approach to build more profiling into your database.  Ask the same question in sequential mailings until you get enough data, and then switch it up. Ask all of the key questions that you forgot to ask the first time around.