Let’s start this post with a question: Do you send your survey to everyone on your list in the hopes of getting more replies?

If you answered yes, were you thinking “the more survey recipients, the greater the chances of getting more replies”?

Hmmmm, this may be true if you have a small, homogenous list. Say, 1,000 subscribers who are all work-at-home moms. They will, more or less, have the same interests.

But if you have a big list with disparate types of users, the more correct answer will be no.

Big lists usually need user segmentation so each group receives relevant surveys that they feel compelled to answer.

segmenting survey participation rate
Segment your list to appeal specifically to each group’s interests.

Split your users according to categories that make sense to you. For example, you can divide them according to:


Two things:

  1. To find the user group that will make your survey meaningful
  2. To craft survey questions and emails that can easily be digested by the said target user group

Do not be part of the 89% of marketers who don’t segment their database. Your efforts will not get optimum results.

“According to a Jupiter Research Study, marketers who segment their lists
can improve conversion rates up to 355% and increase revenues by an amazing 781%.”

We have our own user segmentation learning. This mini case study of our Net Promoter Score (NPS) Survey story is a quick, yet insightful read.

Here’s What We Found Out When We Segmented Our Recipients

We learned a lot from launching our first ever survey—and it’s not just all about writing the most effective survey email copy.

It was more than that.

survey questionnaire response rate
Yes, we were taught to categorize things early in life. This skill is a life saver now that we run our own businesses.

Probably one of the greatest takeaways that we picked up is that active users and paying customers are more likely to answer surveys.

In short, they’re the ones who care about your business.

Our paying customers are more responsive, giving us 63% more interaction as compared to our free user segment.

We see this trend not just in our survey emails, but in our regular emails as well. The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of our survey emails also suggest the same things:

Bottomline: Users who care about your business are the ones who will most likely to respond to your survey request. They are the ones who have good reasons to return you the favor. Go find them.

Once you’ve found your target group, it’s time to create the survey and write your survey email.

Optimizing everything in the email survey

When I say ‘everything’, I mean all the copy and graphics included in your email including the:

Let’s talk about it one by one.

The “From:” details

Before anybody opens an email, they usually check where it came from first. They then decide whether it’s worth opening or not.

It’s like deciding who you allow to get inside your door. Would you let a stranger come in? I doubt it.

best way to get survey responses
Properly introduce yourself when writing your email “From” box so your users will “let you in”.

However, if you’re Google or Facebook, you may not need an intro. Everybody knows you. People have trusted these brands over the years.

Translating it to emails, the notion that comes with that trust is that everything they send is safe to open.

So how do smaller brands get their emails opened?

Aside from getting your users’ emails honestly, here are things that you can do:

Take the example from Neuroplanner. They opted with “Hello from Neuroplanner”.

subject line affect email survey response rate
Be friendly, but professional.

As for us, we want to make our users feel our sincerity in our reaching out so we went with “Aiza from EmailMeForm”. This gives the appeal that an actual human (which is me in this case) is sincere in wanting to communicate with you.

Choose a brief “From” text. YahooMail starts to cut off the “From” names when your browser size decreases. Gmail doesn’t do this, but it only allows around 20 characters.

Subject line

Careful with what you write as your subject line.

69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line
Source: Convince&Convert

Since this is a survey, we want to be straightforward about our intention. We don’t want to waste our users time, but we want them to click on our emails.

Tricky things to balance, eh?

Basing on our experience, we recommend direct subject lines that evoke positive response from our users like:

At the initial reading of these subject lines, the recipients will instantly know that this is a survey email. Those interested can click, those who aren’t can just ignore it.

We also told them through the subject copy (super quick, few easy questions) that this will only take a few minutes of their time.

You’re not the only one who struggles with writing the email subject copy that gets the clicks. But if you want to know how your current open rates fare with other companies in your industry, Hubspot will tell you.

Email body

If the subject line has the job of having to make users click on your email, your email body is the pitch that will (or will not) warrant them to fulfill your favor, which is to answer your survey.

You want your body to be informative, brief, and not too demanding.

Guided by the tip above, here are the things that you should include in your email body:

Here’s an example of our survey email.

increase average response rate email surveys
When you’re asking your users to answer your survey, be direct to the point and reveal what’s in it for them.

Call to action (CTA)

Lastly, we have the Call-to-action area.

Yep, area. Because sometimes, it’s not just the copy that you should be aware of.

In some cases, you may use buttons and images to enhance the overall performance of your CTA.

But does the fanciness really add to your click rates?

It largely depends on your users and your business.

If you’re marketing a design app, then probably it will. If you’re marketing to professionals who are always conscious of their time, I think fancy (but trivial) design will not contribute to a significant difference.

In our case, it seems that our users were drawn to a CTA area without an image.

email survey a b testing
Can you guess which version earned us more clicks?

We have received 40% more clicks on our version B email than on our version A.

We can only infer why this is the case.

On version B, the ‘Submit’ button can be easily spotted and located near the top. The image in version A, on the other hand, takes up a bit of space. It requires longer time and more effort for users to spot the ‘Submit’ button.

It can be that we have busy users who have limited time that they’d rather deal with things in a straightforward manner.

Or they aren’t visual people and they’re not gripped by cartoon-y graphics.

Knowing our users’ personality through A/B testing, we can apply the more effective email survey style, along with the learnings, in our future surveys.

Of Perpetual A/B Testing and Your Aha! Moments

Few iterations and months later, we have made a 150% overall improvement on our click rates, gaining more engagements.

And we’re thrilled because:

More survey respondents = More insights = More credible and actionable data

We’re not stopping here, though.

We know it’s a little improvement and we can do better. Our plan is to: Experiment. Launch and measure. Repeat. …until we are satisfied of the results or until we have fulfilled the goal that is tied to our survey.

It’s the perfect sauce for figuring out your survey email Aha! Moments a.k.a. knowing how to make your customers talk back to you.

Ready to create your own survey emails?

Sign up to EmailMeForm and start writing yours.

Author Aiza Coronado

Aiza Coronado

Aiza is a Content Developer and Marketer at EmailMeForm. She easily gets upset when random dogs don't bark back at her hello's.

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