How to Get Good and Honest Customer Feedback with Email Marketing Automation


Can we get your feedback?

Sending a customer feedback email can sometimes feel like you’re shouting in a crowded room and no one can hear you.

Not everyone is willing to fill out a 10-question survey, and a 1–5 rating scale isn’t enough information for your team to make critical business decisions.

But you can still get results from a simple customer feedback email—if you know exactly which customers to send it to and when to send it. I’m going to show you a few automation workflows and other processes that can handle both parts of this equation.

By the end of this post, you’ll know who to ask for feedback, what questions to ask, and how to set up your own customer feedback email workflow.

Of course, once you’re sending the right questions to the right people, you also need to make sure those people actually open your email.

Step 1: Nail Down How You’ll Use Customer Feedback

Collecting customer feedback can help you gauge customer satisfaction, improve product quality, and find your brand advocates—if you’re smart about it.

Before you even craft your first customer feedback email, you need to know the purpose behind your request. Sit down with staff across your marketing, customer support, and product teams and discuss what you want to gain from the customer responses. Then, you’ll be able to connect that end goal to your email messaging.

Without a clear purpose, your company may gather incomplete information or fail to ask the right questions.

Here are three areas you can focus on…

1. Track and Improve the Customer Experience

After a customer uses your product, you want to know whether the experience met their expectations. And don’t assume receiving no feedback equates to a positive experience. ThinkJar founder Esteban Kolsky says his company has found that only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain—the rest just churn.

That means you need to go out of your way to collect feedback to discover where you need to make changes throughout the customer journey. If a customer tells you she can’t figure out how to use your product, you’ll know you need to offer more training in the onboarding process.

And if another customer tells you that he can’t get a timely response from your support staff, you’ll examine the possibility of increasing your support staff during peak hours.

To track customer satisfaction, you’ll want to collect both qualitative feedback (so you know exactly what to change) and quantitative feedback (so you can track your “score” over time). Without a benchmark measurement, you’ll never know how to refine your processes and how to make your customers truly happy.

2. Improve Product Quality

In a highly competitive market, product quality is essential to positioning your business above competitors. Your commitment to ongoing innovation helps attract new customers and retain existing ones.

With customer feedback, you can discover which product features best solve your audience’s problems. You then can double down on those features, making them faster and better.

On the other hand, you’ll also learn what product features are a hassle for the customer. Your team may need to revise the entire feature, or totally get rid of it.

To make those important decisions, you need input from customers that address their particular concerns. You may want to ask them to rate specific product categories or features.

Then, you need to make sure that feedback gets to your product team. If your user base isn’t too large, you may even want to set feedback email replies to go directly to product managers so they get full access to the responses.

3. Find Brand Advocates

The best customers aren’t just customers—they’re advocates. They reach out to their networks to demonstrate how your product works and how others can receive value. They provide that third-party, unbiased recognition that promotes your brand.

But how do you identify your brand advocates? Where can you find them?

Well, I’ve got good news. You may be only one customer feedback email away from meeting your next brand ambassadors.

Giving positive feedback is one indication that someone believes in your brand’s values. Your team can use those responses as testimonials, or even enlist the person into your ambassador or affiliate program.

Map out a plan before you click send. It’ll help you structure the feedback process and earn more valuable responses.

Step 2: Know When and Who to Ask for Feedback

After discovering your purpose for feedback, you need to know who to ask and the appropriate time to ask.

You don’t want to send the wrong person a customer feedback email because the insight won’t help your team solve the problem of the targeted group.

And if you send the email at the wrong time, your email could get buried in the customer’s inbox, or you may receive premature answers.

“Planning the timing of when you ask for customer feedback is critical,” says Anna Jacobsen, Drip’s Education Director. “You’ll want to strike while the iron is hot and while the experience you’re inquiring about is fresh on their mind.”

For instance, if someone cancels their Drip account, Anna wants the team to know why right away. “If you want to know why someone cancelled your subscription service, for example, make sure you solicit that feedback in a succinct and timely way,” she says. “Asking for this kind of feedback right after the user cancels is ideal, as their reasoning is still fresh on their mind, and you’re more likely to get a response.”

Sounds great in theory. But doesn’t it also sound like a lot of work—constantly checking on which customers are in what stage, and then sending them the right email?

Not if you handle your customer feedback emails with automation. Let’s look at a few examples. I’ll be showing you how they work in Drip, but you could apply the same concepts with a different automation platform (though I can’t promise it’ll be quite as easy).

Feedback Scenario #1: Assessing Your New-Customer Experience

Let’s say you’d like to send a feedback survey to assess customer satisfaction after someone’s initial purchase. Maybe you want to make sure that your checkout and delivery process is as smooth as possible.

First, you’ll set up a workflow trigger corresponding to a purchase in your payment or ecommerce platform, such as Shopify. In this case, I really want to assess how first-time customers are liking my online store, so I’ll also add a decision to check whether they’re tagged as a customer already.

If they’re not, I’ll go ahead and tag them, add a delay to make sure they have time to receive and use the product they bought, and then trigger my feedback email.

What if they don’t open it? I might give them an extra chance, and sweeten the deal by having the feedback form enter them in a contest.

I’ll use my survey confirmation page to record who’s actually filled out the feedback survey. If I use a tool like Gravity Forms to create the survey, I can set my own post-submission confirmation page and add a trigger link where customers will enter the survey.

Here’s how this might look if I created this kind of page using Leadpages and published it to my WordPress site.

Once I’ve set that up, I’ll create up a rule that tags everyone who clicks the link as a contest entrant so I can later enter them into a random drawing.

To reach out again, I’ll just insert another delay, then check whether they’ve been opening my emails. (Tailor the number of emails to the number of emails your customer will have received during your time delay—it might be only one if you’re suppressing them from other emails.)

If they haven’t, I’ll send the second version of my feedback email, the one with the contest perk.

Once I activate this workflow, every new customer will be invited to share their feedback automatically while the customer experience is still fresh.

And because I’m using Drip’s Gravity Forms integration, I can automatically stream feedback data from my survey back into Drip. Depending on the way I structure my feedback form, I can have survey responses update custom fields, apply tags, and add customers to special campaigns in Drip based on how they respond.

For instance, if I ask customers whether they were satisfied or dissatisfied with the way their order was packaged, I can have Drip notify my support team whenever someone answers “Dissatisfied” so they can reach out ASAP and make amends. Or I can have Drip automatically send them an apology email with a coupon.

Powerful stuff. But let’s get back to how you ask for feedback in the first place and examine an approach that’s hyper-targeted from the start.

Feedback Scenario #2: Gauging Satisfaction Among Power Users

Say you’re interested in improving one of your signature products, and you’re hoping for the kind of in-depth feedback that a quick survey can’t produce.

Rather than emailing all your customers—many of whom just won’t have the time or interest needed to participate—you want to quickly find your top users.

Because this kind of feedback email arises out of a particular project, and isn’t something you need to send out continually, in this case I’d start by creating a segment.

Ask yourself what indicates that someone’s a super engaged customer for your business, then choose segment criteria to match. In the example below, I’m selecting customers who’ve attended my customer-only webinar and have a lead score greater than 100. Although lead scoring wouldn’t normally be used this way, if I keep it turned on even after someone’s purchased, I can keep tracking their engagement.

Once I save this segment, I can choose to send a broadcast or campaign email to them. Because I want in-depth feedback, I might simply ask them to reply with their thoughts and have my product team collect the responses. Following up is easy because I’ve carefully defined my feedback audience on the front end.

One final thing to note here: if you have a subscription-based business, avoid sending a feedback email right around a renewal date. You might not have time to fix the problem before their subscription ends, and the customer may decide to cancel due to the unresolved issue. Consider adding another filter to your segment to exclude these customers.

Feedback Scenario #3: Identifying Potential Brand Advocates

You know your customers are pretty satisfied—but that’s not translating into an avalanche of new business.

What to do? Here’s where a feedback email aimed at identifying brand advocates can be really helpful.

In this case, you want to sort your feedback responses into a couple of main categories: potential brand advocates and non-advocates. So I’d recommend starting there: with a simple 2- or 3-option survey right in the body of your email. Like this:

Set up a trigger-link rule for each option, as shown in Scenario #1 above. This time, you’ll have the rule tag respondents as an advocate or a non-advocate and send an advocate-outreach email campaign (or take whatever other action you’re planning to reach out to potential advocates) to those who responded positively.

Go ahead and have each trigger link send people to your feedback form. Anyone who fills it out will be a bonus. Meanwhile, you’ll be getting the essential feedback you need to act even if customers don’t go beyond clicking the link.

You want to be continuously identifying new potential advocates, so add this email to the automated campaign or workflow triggered when someone becomes a new customer. Just build in an appropriate delay so you’re reaching the people who’ve actually had time to engage with your product.

Step 3: Tailor Your Questions to Earn Valuable Responses

The questions you ask customers should be directly tied to the problem you want to solve. An offbeat question can confuse your customers and leave you with no response.

Beyond the topic, there are a few characteristics all your feedback questions should follow. Try these three tips to gain more quality responses.

Tip #1: Ask Clear & Concise Questions

Less is more when it comes to drafting feedback questions. A long, drawn out inquiry can puzzle your customers and give them no other option but to ignore.

Straightforward questions work best because they take the guesswork out of understanding what you team wants. The customer then can fully focus on giving an honest response.

So instead of asking:

How can we better serve you when it comes to our product, customer service, and brand?

You may want to ask this:

How can we improve our customer service?

Brevity helps your team focus on the purpose and leads the customer to a quality response.

Tip #2: Ask One Question at a Time

Information overload is a real phenomenon. When our human brains receive too much information, we start to focus on the level of difficulty involved and how much time it will take to receive the information, rather than on the information itself.

By asking multiple questions at once, you can scare customers away from your feedback emails and trigger indecisiveness.

This is especially true when you tell the customer up front that it will take only three minutes to complete a survey, but it’s clear that question #1 contains four mini questions that will require a 10 minute response.

Asking one question at a time makes the information easy for the customer to digest. Plus, you’ll ensure that all your questions get answered.

Tip #3: Ask Open-Ended Questions, Too

When soliciting feedback, you want to know exactly how the customer thinks and feels.

Rather than have them agree with your every word, open-ended questions make it possible to get insight from their own perspective.

For your next feedback email, stay away from yes/no questions, like:

Did you enjoy the product?

Instead, try an open-ended question:

What did you enjoy about the product?

You’ll receive a meaningful answer and discover their unknown expectations. This knowledge will be super beneficial as you trek toward your improvement goals.

Improve Your Business With Customer Feedback

The strategies outlined above can help your business receive the best quality responses from your customer feedback emails. With more customer insight, your team can make better decisions on how to improve your product and business systems.

From the customer’s perspective, of course, it all starts with your feedback email’s subject line.

Now, go launch your own feedback email campaign and connect with customers who have the most valuable feedback to share.

As a customer, what kinds of feedback requests do you tend to respond to—and which ones do you automatically delete? Tell us in the comments!