Email is the primary channel by which most online surveys are distributed. The problem with emails, however, is that in a lot of cases, you find yourself wishing against all odds that yours is engaging or interesting enough to be noticed, and beyond that to convince the recipient to actually participate in your survey - given that it passes through the spam filters. So how do you minimise chances of your survey invitation emails being thrown into oblivion and getting lost in the dark, unexplored corners of the worldwide web?
Tip #1: Build a Good Email Sender Reputation
The US Federal Trade Commission enforced the CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act in 2003, which has given users the power to report promotional or unsolicited email messages. The law also requires marketers to ask for the permission of their customers before sending them commercial email messages.
Surely, there’s nothing illegal about sending out emails en masse. But there are some things you need to look out for, because users are more vigilant now than ever in guarding the integrity of their email inboxes - send them trash and your emails will be treated as such.
Complying with guidelines under the CAN-SPAM act doesn’t even guarantee 100% that you will reach all your intended recipients. You definitely have to comply, but you also need a good email sender reputation, which you only earn if:
Less than 1% of your recipeints flag or report your email as spam/ junk
You get low bounce rates; meaning the rate of emails being sent back to you due to outdated or erroneous email addresses in your list
Your IP doesn’t get blacklisted, which happens when you get a high complaint rate
Tip #2: Prepare Survey Email Invitations Carefully
First things first: Make sure your email address and subject line look professional and legit. As much as possible, avoid ‘spammy’ keywords. Nothing sends your emails faster to the trash bin as ALL CAPS and exclamation points in the subject line.
Make your invitation straightforward and concise. Be conversational if you can. Tell your recipients about the survey, why you need them to participate, and how long it would take them to accomplish. Under the CAN-SPAM Act, you’d also need to include a valid postal address and the option for your recipients to opt out of receiving emails from you.
Last but not least, remember to thank the recipients in advance for their participation, and to assure them that their answers will remain confidential.
Tip #3: Build Relationships
Apart from relevant email content, you also need to keep in mind that a sustainable email marketing campaign is based upon good relationships with your consumers. So how exactly do you form relationships with people from halfway across the world? Emphasise a positive brand experience.
Ideally, you’d be sending survey invitation emails to those who subscribe to your mailing list. Don’t wait until you need something from them before you start engaging your customers. Once a customer subscribes, make sure you send them a welcome message. This also gives you the opportunity to validate their email address, and at the same time, request to be included in their trusted senders list.
Tip #4: Manage Your Mailing Lists Smartly
As your number of subscribers increases, the more you need to clean up your mailing list from time to time. Get rid of emails that bounce back to you and subsribers who don’t engage to maintain a good email sender reputation.
Other ways to be smart include:
Staggering, or sending emails by batches
Not sending emails too frequently
Use double opt-ins
Knowing when to stop emailing a particular address
As much as possible, steer clear of purchased lists. More likely than not, the email addresses being sold haven’t been collected in an ethical manner (eg. spambots, scraping from websites/chatrooms, etc.) and you’re more likely to end up having bigger email deliverability issues.
Tip #5: Get Whitelisted
Every time one of your emails gets flagged, it’s your IP, not your email address, that could get in trouble. Prevent getting blacklisted by getting ‘whitelisted’, which may require paid services to get your IP certified. Taking this step significantly decreases chances of emails you sent out ending up in your customers’ spam boxes.
You can also have a Sender-ID/Sender Polic Framework (SPF) record in place, which proves that your email address is directly associated with the IP address broadcast from, for when receiving email servers try to validate.
Sometimes, being sincere in your emails just isn’t enough. To improve your email deliverability, you also need to follow some rules and of course, to be smart. Win the trust of your customers and you are more likely to get them to engage whenever you need to them to answer surveys for you.
Armed with these tips, start sending out your very own surveys now. You can start here.
Photo credit: Stehouwer and Recio (thanks, Stehouwer and Recio)
P.S. If you liked this article, you might also like Tips and Tricks: 5 Easy Ways To Increase Your Response Rate, What's the Difference Between a Hard Bounce and a Soft Bounce, and What To Do For a Higher Response Rate.
Mar 21, 2014