Before a customer can complete your meticulously developed customer feedback survey, they need to open the email invitation.
You have precious few seconds to prevent their finger jabbing at the delete key.
Your subject line is your first defence. So make it a good one.
Our clients have sent millions of survey invites and in this post I’ll review our tested best practices and research to show you know to write subject lines that are proven to maximize the open rates of your client survey invites.
1. Don’t Over Complicate it and Be Sincere
Believe it or not, your’s is not the very first customer feedback survey email invite the person has received.
Shocking, I know right!
People know about surveys so you don’t need to over complicate the invite but you do need to be sincere, and on brand.
2. Avoid Spammy Words and Capitals
Of course you want to avoid looking spammy in a customer’s inbox. To that end we already know we should avoid words like “free” and hype like ALL CAPITALS and “!!!”.
This is true but anti-spam engines have evolved dramatically and “Free” is no longer the fast lane to the junk mail folder that it used to be.
In fact there are some words you probably are using that you need to avoid. For example, you should not use any of the following:
- Percent Off
So the first to go in the customer survey subject line reject bin is:
Reminder to complete our survey
Also in that bin is anything where you are asking for help from the recipient. Does this look familiar?
Help us improve our customer service
Okay so “Help” is out but there is another problem in that subject line. Can you see it?
3. Make it About the Customer
We all like to think we are altruistic and give to the common good but when it comes down to it WIIFM [What’s in it for me] rules supreme.
Help us improve our customer service
… has nothing in it for the recipient. It’s all about the company.
Your subject line needs to have something in it for the recipient so they will want to open it and take the time to complete your survey.
4. Be Specific not Vague, Deceptive or “Creative”
People are not out looking for more emails to read. They are trying to eliminate the emails they don’t need as quickly as possible.
Subject lines that are vague, deceptive, “creative” or too clever require too much mental power. In those couple of seconds often it’s easier just to delete than try to work out what the heck is under that cool and wacky subject line you spent hours devising.
No need to believe me, there are stats. A couple of years ago Aweber released a report that shows that a clear subject line gets 541% more clicks than one that’s clever.
In this vein, your feedback survey invite subject line you should let respondents know how long the survey will actually take.
People are often looking to be able to cross easy things off their list. So put yourself at the top of that list.
If you tell them…
this task is easy: in just 3 minutes you can cross it off your list
…they will be more likely open and respond.
5. Subject Line Length: 4-7 Words
Lots of research shows that shorter subject lines have higher open rates.
This is even more important as the shift to mobile devices means that sometimes the full subject line can’t be read in scrolling mode.
Marketo did some nice research on this point looked at two different factors:
- open rate and;
- click rate.
If you look just at click rate, it maxes out at six or seven words but open rate maxes at just four words.
So it is four or seven words?
My preference is to keep it short: 4 or 5 words and then let your email invite copy take over. However many words you decide, it’s clear shorter is better.
6. Email “From” Address Should Be A Person
The From address is very important in driving response rates for customer surveys.
My advice is to have the invite come from a real person. Don’t send it from an impersonal (and non-branded) “Customer Service” group.
In this case study with Iron Mountain it was shown that simply sending the invite from a real person lifted response rates by 50%.
Often there is a fear that the person at the bottom of the email will receive lots of direct contact from customers but it turns out that this is not the case.
Just remember that you might also need to include your brand or company name if the person sending the invite is not known by the respondent.
“John Smith (Acme Ltd)” can work better than “John Smith” in these cases.
The goal is to ensure ensure you get the key brand information into the respondent’s view quickly and effectively.
7. You Probably Should Not Use Emojis 😥
To emoji or not to emoji, that is the question.
This thorough piece of research from Search Engine Journal showed the following:
- Emojis in subject lines reduce open rates; 😢
- But they increase click through rate; 😁
- And they increase unsubscribes, abuse reports.😢
To me this indicates that emojis gain you attention but that attention is not always good attention.
Test away if you like and if they suit your brand voice use them but, generally, you should avoid them.
Originally published: 25 February 2014. Last updated: 5 February 2021