Email’s Secret Engagement Weapon: Embedded Surveys

For the people who take them, surveys can be fun, fast, and educational. But building them is a very different story. Questions can be worded in any number of ways – which way is best? How many questions is too many, or too few? Then you have to analyze and share results.

But the payoff from surveys is often worth the work: “Surveys are one of the most important digital touchpoints that brands can have with a customer,” writes Alissa Warne at MarketingProfs. “Getting them right can elicit valuable feedback to drive product and company direction.”

For email marketers, surveys pose another challenge – with traditional surveys, recipients are forced to leave the email to take the survey. That’s a deal-breaker for people who aren’t motivated to leave their email.

“Most email surveys have buttons that say, ‘Take Survey’ or ‘Start,’ that take the user to a new browser tab and kick off a standalone survey,” writes Rohan Ayyar at Business2Community. “Trouble is, not enough people bother clicking on this CTA button, resulting in poor response rates and thin data.”

The solution: embedded surveys. These simple surveys can be delivered right in the message. In a few seconds, the recipient can take the survey, and sometimes see the results, while in the background, the input is delivered to the marketer.

Embedding surveys can have a big payoff

“By including the entire survey inside the body of the email, marketers can prevent the inevitable user drop-offs and collect exponentially higher responses than they would have otherwise,” Ayyar writes,  citing data showing that embedded surveys increase response rate by 125% compared to traditional surveys.

“Embedded surveys provide a better user experience and consistently increase response rates,” according to Jana Barret at GetFeedback. “When you embed an event survey in an HTML email or on a webpage, it’s right there—respondents don’t need to go elsewhere. Embedded surveys increase visibility and minimize the user effort required to respond. Plus, they look pretty sweet.”

Ayyar suggests that email marketers use embedded surveys for soliciting product reviews, customer satisfaction ratings, completing customer profiles, and assessing user interest, among other goals. His tips for success with this tool include:

  • Keeping the survey short and simple
  • Experimenting with radio buttons, open text fields, check boxes, and buttons to keep the survey easy on the eye as well as easy to take
  • Checking whether your email marketing platform supports embedded surveys (most platforms do support them)
  • Checking how your survey renders on the most popular email clients before sending one out

In addition, the team at QuestionPro, a company that specializes in developing online surveys, suggests that embedded surveys work best when:

  • They use strong visuals. Check out this NPS example.
  • The question text gives enough context so the user doesn’t have to read it twice.
  • There is no “bait and switch” with surprise additional questions.
  • The email message is personalized

Survey development begins with the answers in mind
Once you’ve decided to run a survey, you’ll probably want to jump in and start writing questions. That’s natural. But it’s not the best approach. Instead, take some time to decide what you want your answers to tell you, advises Stephanie Beadell at Zapier. “Just like you start a building project with blueprint – and don’t just begin pouring concrete whenever you decide you want a new building – your survey should start with the answers you need, and then you’ll be better prepared to make the questions that will provide those questions.”

In addition, Beadell shares these tips for crafting effective survey questions:

  • Use simple, direct language – Questions should be short and clear
  • Be specific – Precisely worded questions yield the most valuable answers
  • Break down big ideas into multiple questions – Broad concepts (i.e., “satisfaction”) mean different things to different; use multiple, more-tangible questions to analyze them
  • Avoid leading questions – Don’t let your bias creep into the way questions are worded
  • Ask only one thing per question – Avoid words like “and” and “or”

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 This embedded survey from Airbnb takes just a second to complete and provides the company with valuable data about their customer’s experience at a property.

Survey Gizmo

Embedded surveys like this one from SurveyGizmo make for quick and easy RSVPs.


This quick and easy embedded survey from Groupon provides the customer with immediate feedback on the performance of a specific customer service representative.