How to Use Polls and Surveys to Engage Clients and Boost Retention

Invitations to learn more about a topic by following a link involve a reader absorbing information, a survey involves a reader providing information. In other words, the information flows in the opposite direction.

Ever feel like your client relations are a little one sided? If writing the next newsletter makes you feel like the dorky kid at the prom asking for attention, try a new approach. Client communications can (and probably should) be more than one directional. One of the easiest ways to engage your clients, or potential clients, is to include a call to action in your newsletters. While there are more options than we could list here, the two best may be to include polls and surveys those client communications.

While all communications should engage your readers and seek to answer their questions, polls and surveys take that basic premise a step farther. Some newsletters invite their readers to go more in depth on specific topics by providing a link or invitation to an event. Surveys and Polls change that dynamic: invitations to learn more about a topic by following a link involve a reader absorbing information, a survey involves a reader providing information. In other words, the information flows in the opposite direction.

The simplest survey is to ask your readers to respond to your emailed newsletter (or e-newsletter) with questions or specifics about the topics covered in your newsletter.  Some companies do so by directing readers to a specific part of their website set up to take in contact information.  Others do so by asking readers to simply respond to the email. You'll most likely get the most results from the easiest option (hitting reply) but the best quality of response by directing clients and readers to a a website with a pre-set form to fill out.

If you are already sending out separate surveys to your clients, either by regular mail or by email, it could be helpful to know that including surveys in emailed newsletters increases your response rate by a significant amount. Some ecommerce advisors note increases in response rates of nearly double or triple.

Surveys and newsletters also provide your company with the opportunity to resolve negative experiences with clients before they become negative reviews. Additionally, positive experiences can help shape how you market your services. Where clients allow, their reviews or feedback can help add authenticity to your marketing. Newsletters that quote or refer to anonymous clients' questions also help you promote your responsiveness towards your clients. While surveys seek responses to specific questions, polls ask for rankings and choices. Sometimes the difference between polls and surveys isn't that far apart.

Unlike surveys, which ask for specific information from readers, polls help you determine the level of interest your readers have in certain topics. While that information can help you determine how to better serve those clients, it can also help your clients determine where their interests are in relation to others in the industry. By publishing the results of polls, your clients not only feel like they've been heard by you, but also helps to build community among your clients.

Ideas for polls can include how satisfied your clients are with their relationship with your company or your services. Polls can ask for choices among multiple options or to rank choices on a preset scale. The polls that have the highest engagement are those asking for a favorite or where one option wins. You can warm your clients and readers up to polls by choosing aspects of your work or office culture. Surely your clients don't want to vote on an investment product, but a cute nod to which of the office staff's dogs is the cutest and a resulting win for that dog's favorite animal charity boosts engagement and loyalty at the same time. Similarly, polls for which topic for the next seminar or educational session may be the most intellectually relevant, but favorite dessert to serve at the dinner accompanying the session can also be a lighthearted way to engage your readers. Both polls show that your company is concerned with their clients. But engagement on flourless chocolate cake versus red velvet cupcakes may spark a higher rate of clicks.

Don't wait for the end of your newsletter to add a poll: instead add a poll whenever an article or section of your newsletter could engage your readers.

If you are stumped on how to include polls or surveys in your newsletter it may be time to change the platform you use to communicate with your clients. Some services, like MailChimp, have polls and surveys that can easily be nestled into your newsletter. If changing your email platform sounds like a nightmare befitting Freddy Krueger, consider embedding links to stand alone online surveys like Survey Monkey.

Consider also the audience that you are seeking to reach. Millennials are more familiar with polls and also favor responding to polls. And when it comes to Millennials, polls may help you identify educational areas to focus on. For example, Turbo Tax launched a successful "true/false" poll to help readers learn more about exemptions.

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