Cool Email Idea of the Month

What: Email satisfaction survey

Who: Sierra Trading Post

Why we love it: Catalog and online retailer, Sierra Trading Post was interested in learning more about what its audience of email subscribers liked and didn’t like about the emails they were receiving. The started with a simple survey that they included as a button on their regular promotional email. The response rate was low – around 0.03%. More importantly, while the data was interesting, they felt that they were probably missing some good feedback since the survey was only seen by recipients who were already opening their emails. Further, by making the feedback message compete with a promotion they were doing a disservice to both the survey and the sales message.

They decided to re-run the survey, but to send it as a standalone mailing to the list. This was a bold decision since it meant foregoing a sales message in service of data that could help their program in a long-term way. It worked! They increased the response rate to just shy of 3% — and 8,000% increase! More importantly, they got richer data and felt more confident that they were hitting a wider range of recipients – both those who love their email and those who are less satisfied.

They also made a few tweaks to the survey to help make the data more helpful. They re-wrote a few questions to be more specific to the email experience. They also provided open boxes after each question – rather than at the end of the whole survey – to give respondents a chance to give personalized feedback to each part of the survey. The result was pages upon pages of rich, interesting comments straight from consumers about their experience with the email program.

What would make it better: The huge response and open comment fields did create an embarrassment of riches. A back-end system that could have sorted and categorized the user comments would have been a huge plus. As it was, the team had to slog manually through all those comments – a time-consuming task.

Bonus points: We’ve seen way too many surveys that go on for pages and pages (and pages!). Sierra Trading Post got a lot of really good data while still keeping the survey easy to answer, with a grand total of 4 questions.

Check it out: Sign up for the DealFlyer at You might find yourself receiving the next email customer satisfaction survey!

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