When was the last time you surveyed your e-mail list?
When was the last time you surveyed your email list?
Though you don't want to conduct surveys all the time, I find this easy, cost-effective tool for learning about your list is too often underutilized. You should be able to survey your list two to four times a year without causing a backlash or creating a situation where oversurveying leads to greatly diminished response.
There are so many things you can learn by surveying a list:
Most best practices associated with offline surveys hold true in the online realm, including:
One mistake some companies make is the type of information they request. You don't want to ask respondents to do your job; you want to ask them for information so you can do your job better. It's a fine line. Let's say you publish an email newsletter. Asking respondents to provide article topics and ideas is asking them to do your job. Offering them a list of industry issues and asking them to rate the importance of each gives you information to do your job better.
Open-ended questions are a double-edged sword. Use them wisely. They're harder to tabulate than multiple choice questions because you must do it manually. That's the down side. But their very nature can yield responses you'd never have dreamed of. That's the up side. Mix a few in with easier-to-manage multiple choice options.
Now, a few words on technology. Some email service providers (ESPs) have "in-email" survey capability, meaning recipients see and can complete the survey right in the email body. Though I'm not against this, be sure the technology works for the majority, if not all, of the recipients. It sounds simple, but Outlook is slightly different from Gmail, which is very different from Lotus Notes. If the technology doesn't work with all of them, you won't get the results you're looking for.
I know it adds an extra step, but I like to set up surveys online and send an email with a link. I use SurveyMonkey.com, although I've heard good things about similar services. In addition to providing a great deal of flexibility in the survey creation process, SurveyMonkey's reporting capabilities are very impressive. It's amazing how it can offer this level of service for such a low monthly fee.
If you haven't lately, it's time to survey your email list! Let us all know how it goes.
Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.
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Jeanne Jennings is a 20 year veteran of the online/email marketing industry, having started her career with CompuServe in the late 1980s. As Vice President of Global Strategic Services for Alchemy Worx, Jennings helps organizations become more effective and more profitable online. Previously Jennings ran her own email marketing consultancy with a focus on strategy; clients included AARP, Hasbro, Scholastic, Verizon and Weight Watchers International. Want to learn more? Check out her blog.
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