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Surveys Are the Way to Unlock Your Subscribers’ Hearts

5 min

Remember the last time you had a blockbuster post? A video that got more views that all your others… combined? What if you could do that more often? That’s what you can do when you know how to ask your subscribers what they want. That’s the power of surveys. Here are three different ways to use surveys – even single question “surveys” to do that.

1. The magic email

This is simplest, and the quickest to set up of the three techniques. All you have to do is to ask your subscribers a question in the welcome email you send them.  I’ve been trying this technique myself recently. To date, I’ve gotten 15% of my new subscribers to reply back to my welcome email and tell me what they most want to know.

Here’s how it works: After a subscriber has clicked the link in the confirmation email, they will

  1. See the final confirmation page on my site, where I give them access to download the free report I promised them and
  2. Get an email asking: “Thank you for subscribing to my free weekly email updates. Could you do me a favor? Could you reply to this email and let me know what’s your biggest question about [insert niche topic]? I’ll use your response to create more materials for the site. You’d be helping me, yourself, and everyone else who wants to [insert niche aspiration]. So give it a shot – just reply and let me know what you want to know. Thanks,”

The content ideas I’ve gotten from these replies have helped me create content that gets dramatically better results than my usual posts and updates.

I’ve finally found a way to get people to tell me what they really want to know – and it doesn’t cost me a dime.


Why does this work?

  1. Timing. I’ve asked them at a moment when they’re very engaged – they’ve just signed up for my email list, and so they’re hungry for information from me. Their hopes are high.
  2. Welcome emails get opened. Welcome emails get higher response rates than pretty much any other kinds of emails (except maybe transactional emails). That’s why welcome emails are so valuable. Unfortunately, many online businesses never bother to set them up. Only about half of the ecommerce email lists I sign up for send a welcome email. If you haven’t set up welcome emails for your lists, I urge you to do it – TODAY. Just use that template and start getting killer ideas on what your prospects want to know… right down to which words to use to describe it back to them.
  3. I got humble. I asked them for help. This technique does very well on social media. People like to help. If your audience has positive feelings toward you, they want to help even more. When they get to be helpful AND give their opinion about something… BOOM – it’s a win.
  4. I got somebody else involved. Sure, they’re helping me, and hopefully they’re helping themselves (because I genuinely do want to create exactly the content they want), but they’re also helping the wider community. By answering my email, they’re helping “everyone else” who wants to succeed. Helping other people, especially people like ourselves, wins big points for feel good motivation. My new subscribers are responding to that.

2. Three magic questions

This next technique builds on the first. Remember the wording of my welcome email, where it says “what’s your biggest question”? Well, there’s a fellow named Glenn Livingston who’s found a way to never mess up a product launch by asking people that and two other questions. He’s even figured out a way to quantify it, so you can score responses.

This is the jist of those three questions. If you want the exact version, you should seek out Dr. Livingston:

  1. What’s your most pressing question about X? (Text box for answer)
  2. How hard has it been to find information about that? Score 1-5 , 1 is easiest, 5 hardest
  3. What prompted you to sit down and begin your search today? (Text box for answer)

Notice anything?

Well, to start you might notice this survey format was designed for squeeze pages (“what prompted you to begin your search?”). But these questions work for email messages and display ads, too. Try switching the wording to “What prompted your interest in X?”

While this survey looks pretty simple, there are a number of powerful things about it. First, it’s only three questions. The fewer questions you ask in a survey, the better. There’s often a lot of push and pull about which questions to ask, and many surveys end up around 5-7 questions. This is a very short survey, and as a result it gets a lot of responses.


You’ve already seen why honing in on the biggest question is so effective – it focused the responses. But that second question is nearly as important. That’s because you want to know not only what is people’s most important question, but also if they would pay to have it answered.

If the information your audience wants to know is available everywhere for free, they aren’t going to pay for it. Mr. Livingston needed to know what information people a) really wanted to know and b) that was hard to find. This question showed him how to differentiate himself in the market – and how to do it in a way that resulted in sales.

The third question looks kind of odd at first, until you’ve actually run one of these surveys. This is the question that gauges how truly desperate (or motivated) someone is to find the information. It is amazing how much detail some people will go into for this question. You actually measure the word count of the answers to quantify and score the responses.

3. Unsubscribe surveys

This survey has been running for you all along. It’s a feature in every GetResponse account. It asks people why they’ve unsubscribed from a list.

Here’s what it looks like:


You can see the results of your unsubscribe survey in your account under  “Statistics” >> “Email Analytics” >> “Subscriptions”. Pick the “Unsubscribed” tab at the top of the page.

Have you taken a look at why some of your subscribers have left recently? Knowing why subscribers are leaving might help you decide which content to create… almost as well as what your new subscribers tell you.

Pam Neely
Pam Neely
Pam Neely has been marketing online for 15 years. She's a serial entrepreneur and an avid email and content marketing enthusiast with a background in publishing and journalism, including a New York Press Award. Her book "50 Ways to Build Your Email Marketing List" is available on Pam holds a Master's Degree in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University. Follow her on Twitter @pamellaneely.