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Grow Your Email Newsletter With Feedback Surveys

Take Your Email Newsletter to the Next Level by Incorporating Audience Feedback

This article has been updated to maintain its accuracy and relevance.

Want to learn what your audience really thinks about your newsletter? 

If you’re invested in growing your audience and building your brand, collecting audience feedback is the best way to tell your subscribers that you value their opinion and want to build a strong relationship. 

But what is the best way to get your audience’s opinion? 

It’s easier than you think – just incorporate feedback surveys in your email newsletters. That way, you can develop the content your audience wants to read and take action on the things that aren’t working. You’ll also gain valuable insights into the way they see and interact with your brand. 

Remember, the customer is always right in matters of taste. Surveying your readers is easy, useful, and gives you actionable and valuable zero party data (more on that later). 

To help you ask the best questions, we’ve answered some of your common ones. Here’s how to use feedback surveys in your email newsletters — and why you should.

Table of Contents

Enhancing Reader Engagement With Feedback Surveys in Newsletters

Engaged readers are loyal readers, and they are absolutely your best source of feedback. They’re going to tell you what’s working for them and what isn’t. They just need to be given the opportunity. 

When done right, feedback surveys are easy, convenient, and add to your readers’ newsletter experience. 

The Importance of Feedback Surveys in Newsletters

Like other businesses and publications, email newsletters are subject to the feedback economy – the process of leveraging customer insights and data to gain a competitive edge. 

Surveys gain you valuable information. The second most common reason that people unsubscribe from newsletters is that they don’t find the content relevant. 

Find out what your readers do want to see — and how often they want to see it. You can track the effectiveness of your newsletter and identify emerging opportunities. 

People also appreciate feeling heard. Gathering information from your subscribers provides them an opportunity to share opinions and suggestions. When your audience feels heard, the relationship between you and them only strengthens. 

Identifying Key Metrics for Newsletter Success

By now, you probably have heard of open rates and click-through rates and how important they are to your newsletter. Both of these numbers offer powerful insight into how your newsletter is doing. 

But have you ever heard of zero party data

First party data is data that is collected by your website. This may include things like interactions with your website or purchase history. 

Zero party data is information that you are given voluntarily, and it’s one of the strongest forms of feedback possible, as it gives you the most accurate information, straight from the source. 

Zero party data is more valuable than gold because you learn real, actionable insight into how your audience is responding to your newsletters; and when used in conjunction with beehiiv’s 3D analytics, you have a robust picture to guide your strategy. 

Crafting Effective Newsletter Survey Questions

Nailing your feedback survey is easy if you use these simple strategies. 

Tailoring Questions to Newsletter Content

Let’s be honest. Soliciting reader feedback is just a more detailed version of the grade-school note: Do you like me? Check yes or no.

Grow Your Email Newsletter With Feedback Surveys

You want helpful information about reader interests and impressions that you can incorporate into your content strategy. To that end:

Grow Your Email Newsletter With Feedback Surveys
  • Craft a clear and concise email: Ensure that your copy is easy to understand and keep it short and sweet. Always ask yourself if what your writing adds value or if it’s just fluff. 

  • Keep questions specific: Craft your questions to align with your content and make sure that they aren’t too open to interpretation so that you receive responses that you can take action with. 

  • Tell readers how you’ll use their feedback: Be transparent; and if you take action based on their feedback, let them know what worked and what didn’t. This shows you care about your audience’s opinions and lets them know that they were heard. 

  • Remind readers that all responses are anonymous: Assure them that they are able to say exactly what they think because their names are not attached. 

These measures assure readers that you value both their time and their input. No one enjoys being assigned pointless busy work; and by implementing these measures, everyone wins. Your audience feels heard, and you get valuable feedback you can use to improve in the future.

Timing and Frequency of Sending Surveys

Consider when to send surveys and do so strategically. You don’t want your audience to feel like they are always answering surveys! 

Here are some solid times to send surveys to your subscribers: 

  • When they first sign up: Find out how they came to your newsletter, what content they’re looking for, and helpful tidbits like their birthday (so you can send a personalized birthday message every year).

  • When you try something new: Ask them what they think of your new content or design so that you can make adjustments. 

  • After every email: Offer a very brief survey at the end of every email, giving readers the opportunity to share their thoughts whenever they like.

Big Desk Energy uses a survey at the end of every email and keeps it short and sweet. Tyler’s audience always knows that their opinion is valued; but because the survey is so simple, it doesn’t feel overwhelming. 

Grow Your Email Newsletter With Feedback Surveys

Best Practices for Integrating Newsletter Surveys

What do you need to know the most? Ask those questions — and not much else. Have a clearly-defined objective and share it with your readers. 

You’re more likely to find success with a short and focused survey than a long, rambling one. Pros recommend between five and ten survey questions — and even fewer if those questions require long responses.

Frame most of your questions as multiple-choice. Readers are more likely to click their way through a questionnaire that doesn’t require them to write a bunch of individual answers.

Multiple-choice questions are also easier to aggregate across a large readership. You can include short-answer questions, but limit them to one or two at the end. 

A few other principles of survey design to keep in mind as best practices: 

  • Use simple, clear language.

  • Avoid leading questions and answer options.

  • Don’t use absolutes such as “always” or “all.”

  • Evaluate interest and other abstracts along a scale, rather than asking yes/no questions.

  • Ask one question at a time — don’t try to combine them.

Once you’ve created your survey, pilot-test it. Have friends or an initial set of readers take the survey before distributing it to your audience.

Encouraging Survey Participation

Grow Your Email Newsletter With Feedback Surveys

Don’t be shy. If readers are opening up your email, they’re invested in your content. 

Tell readers what you want to know and why you want to know it. Be respectful and humble, but don’t put yourself down. Playful questions and language can help engage readers, but don’t wander too far from a clearly defined objective. 

Incentives also work. Reward readers for taking the time to offer their opinion. Exclusive content is always a good option for creators, or submit respondents into a raffle for an online gift card. 

And make sure you don’t neglect your subject line – after all, it is the first impression that your readers get of any newsletter you send out! When 33% of people open emails based on the subject line alone (SuperOffice, 2023), your subject line can make or break your survey emails. 

Designing Engaging Survey Visuals

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make your feedback survey engaging for your readers. 

Use the design elements you are already using for the rest of your emails and carry them over into your surveys. 

On beehiiv, your surveys will automatically adopt the brand styling settings for your newsletter, making the design easy on you and keeping your brand experience cohesive. 

You can keep it really simple, like this example from Young Money’s welcome email: 

Grow Your Email Newsletter With Feedback Surveys

Here’s another example of a simple and sweet survey from The Yellowbrick Road:

Grow Your Email Newsletter With Feedback Surveys

Both examples (and the one above from Big Desk Energy) show that you really can keep it simple! 

Another option is to incorporate feedback into your survey request itself – like this example from Pompeii Street Soap Co.:

Grow Your Email Newsletter With Feedback Surveys

Analyzing Responses To Enhance Your Newsletter

Examine all the responses. Focus on emerging patterns, but take care to contextualize them appropriately. Depending on your sample makeup and size, the results may not be representative of your full or potential audience. 

Then, identify actionable steps you can take to better meet the needs of your readership. Show readers that they’ve been heard and give them the content they want!

Utilizing Feedback for Content Curation

Trying out something new? Do you want to know if what you’ve been doing is resonating? 

Ask your audience what they think about your content and give them the opportunity to tell you what they want to see more of and what they want to see less of. 

Armed with that information, you can make decisions about what content you want to continue making and what you’d like to try out in the future. 

Maybe content you think is going to hit isn’t resonating the way you would like. Audience feedback can help you understand why. It’s possible that you can make slight tweaks that will make your content better and reach more people. 

The only way to know is to find out what your readers think and then take action! 

Segmenting Audience for Targeted Feedback

beehiiv’s survey tools are powerful, so powerful in fact that the responses you get from your surveys are recorded as custom fields associated with the reader. 

You can use those custom fields to segment your readers, offer personalized emails, and give them a bespoke experience. The opportunities are endless. 

Check out this example of a survey from Morning Brew. With this information, they can fully understand and segment their readers’ interests:

Grow Your Email Newsletter With Feedback Surveys

Tools and Platforms for Creating Newsletter Feedback Surveys

Grow Your Email Newsletter With Feedback Surveys

Creating a survey for your emails doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. 

One option is to use a third-party survey tool to create and launch your survey. Once you have created it, you can generate the HTML code for the survey and copy it into the body of your email. 

Don’t forget to send a test email to make sure everything is looking the way you intended! 

Another option is to use beehiiv’s features to embed surveys and polls with one click. You can add them directly into your newsletter editor, save your polls to reuse later, and add your responses as custom fields to segment your audience. 

Surveys and polls are available for users on the Scale plan and higher, which makes it affordable to get all the features you want at a price that makes sense for where you are in your stage of growth.  

Examples of Successful Newsletter Survey Campaigns

So far, you’ve heard a lot about email feedback surveys, but what is the result when they’re used effectively? 

Case Study: Increasing Engagement With Targeted Questions

Matt Gray of The Soulful Entrepreneur uses surveys and polls at the center of his engagement strategy. He consistently polls his audience to get their input on potential topics and cites this tactic as one that is contributing to his rapid growth. 

Gray’s poll strategy is multi-faceted and brilliant. Not only do his polls guide him on what to write next, but they also tell his audience what’s coming next, advertising coming attractions and creating excitement for upcoming newsletter editions. 

Because he directly implements his audience’s feedback, Gray’s readers know that they are heard and feel like they are a part of the creation process, keeping them engaged and ready to come back for more. 

This tactic has paid off immensely, driving an impressive 61% growth every month. 

Overcoming Challenges With Newsletter Feedback Collection

Grow Your Email Newsletter With Feedback Surveys

Collecting feedback from your newsletter readers is most often an easy experience, but there are some situations where you should take extra caution to protect your audience’s personal information. 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a privacy protection law in the European Union that protects EU residents from privacy concerns. 

It’s a best practice to always make sure that your data collection policies are GDPR compliant, even if you aren’t directly marketing to readers in the EU. Luckily, being compliant isn’t difficult. Here are some best practices to ensure GDPR compliance: 

  • Always ensure that your audience has opted-in to receive your emails: Consider using a double opt-in method for extra security.

  • Never collect sensitive information: This includes details like health, financial, or personal data – the last of which being anything that could be used to identify your readers. You can find out more about personal data in Article 4 of the GDPR. 

  • Be transparent about how you use the data you collect, and never misuse the data: Let your readers know why you are collecting the data you’re seeking and how you’re going to use it. If you must collect any personal data, ensure that it is only in absolutely necessary circumstances.

  • Secure your account: Two-Factor Authentication is a great place to start in order to keep both your account and your readers’ data protected. 

  • Make your company’s privacy policy easy to access: Include the link in your survey email.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a great place to start for best practices to protect your audience’s personal data. 

It’s a good idea to be up to date on GDPR, CAN-SPAM, and any applicable laws for the area that you’re marketing to. For example, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation covers what you need to do to obtain consent to send marketing emails to Canadian citizens. 

It’s also not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with laws like HIPAA, which protects sensitive health care information. This can help you understand why you can’t request personal health information in your surveys, as well as what information is covered under HIPAA. 

Staying in-the-know on the different laws, even those that aren’t directly data privacy related, can help you make solid decisions moving forward and protect yourself from any potential legal ramifications. 

Get Started With beehiiv Survey Tools

Ready to create your own email feedback survey? beehiiv’s robust tools can help you leverage this incredible opportunity with your own audience. Start your free trial with beehiiv today. 

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