Posted 22nd April 2012 by APSIS

Surveys, a road to a better newsletter

Many companies use surveys in order to find out more about their customers and what they think of their products and services. But there are good reasons to broaden the thinking on the usefulness of a survey. What one learns from a survey can be used to improve external communication – a simple way to a better newsletter.

– What we learn from surveys often provides the basis for product development and pricing. But the results don’t always filter through to the marketing department. That’s a pity because there’s much to be gained from using all available knowledge in order to sharpen your message and hit the mark when communicating, explains Jonas Eriksson at the Apsis After Sales Department.

Jonas works with complex customer scenarios which often involve a combination of various marketing methods such as email, surveys and social media. He has discovered a great deal of interest in the possibility of using surveys as a means of improving email advertising.

Many people who work with email want to know as much as possible about their customers. Why is this so important?

– Everyone who sends newsletters wants to send good and relevant email at all times. They want to have high opening frequencies, lots of clicks and a good response to their offers. And what they absolutely don’t want are recipients disliking the newsletters or even viewing them as spam. For that reason, a lot of effort goes into personalising newsletters as much as possible, and for that you need information.

So how do you know what is good and what is going to be popular?

- You always get the clues afterwards, when you go through the statistics and see what has been opened, read and clicked. This is valuable information that you can use to plan your next newsletter, explains Jonas.

– Web statistics are another clue. You can track anyone opening your newsletter and see what they are doing on your website – what they read, what they click on and how long they stay.
The statistics are the basis for your planning. But, at the same time, they are a blunt tool. You cannot find out if a completely different content might have been better and you will find detailed planning difficult if you rely on statistics. At such times, a survey can be just the ticket.

How can I use surveys to obtain this kind of information?

– A solution might be to create a survey amongst your subscribers, where you ask a few questions about your newsletter and what subscribers think about it, explains Jonas. What you get are answers on which you can take immediate action. You can learn more about their expectations and, if you use open-ended questions, you can find out things that you didn’t even ask about.

What should I consider when it comes to creating a good survey?

– When you create a survey, it’s important to begin by setting clear goals. Think about what it is you want to know and formulate the questions accordingly. The answers you receive should be measurable as far as possible. A good starting point might be to review what the goals of your newsletter are and ask questions relevant to those goals.

Let’s go through some of the most common goals. Often, the number one goal is to be read.

– That’s right, and the opening frequency is especially easy to measure. At the same time though, it’s difficult to use that measuring point as a way of predicting what might work in the future. Getting one’s newsletter opened is a prerequisite for your other goals to be achievable – but it’s important that you don’t view that as the primary goal.

In a survey therefore, you can ask questions about your content. Is it appreciated? Is it about the right things? Should it just be in text format or might a video work? Is there anything that is completely missing?

Obviously, another goal is the financial one. How can a survey help me achieve the financial goals I’ve set for the newsletter?

– For that you ought to start by asking yourself if the newsletter creates sales or customer relations in the way you want. Financial targets are usually easy to measure – but what can be difficult is finding out exactly what has triggered a purchase or a contact.

In a survey, you can ask, for example, if the navigation works – can readers click their way from a newsletter offer to an order page?

A third goal has more of a long-term nature. You want to keep the relationship with your customer.

– Something a newsletter is really excellent for, provided you create opportunities for communication, not just information from your website. A survey is a good way to allow your recipients to communicate with you.
In the survey, you can ask questions about frequency – how often do your recipients want to receive news from you? And if there is one place to ask open-ended questions, it’s here!

Do you have a question about email or surveys that you want answers to? Send an email to – that way, you’ll have a chance to read the answer in our next newsletter!