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Getting Feedback on Relevancy Before it's a Problem

7/10/12

By Stephanie Colleton

Marketers have long asked subscribers for their feedback on product purchases and many ask, at the point of unsubscribe, why a subscriber is leaving. But we’ve seen more marketers trying to get out in front of the issue of program relevancy instead of waiting for a subscriber to move into a state of inactivity or to unsubscribe. “Rate-this-email” type calls to action are becoming more common. Below is an example from British online grocery retailer Ocado.

A “Rate-this-email” call to action appears in the upper right of the email:

Clicking on this link takes subscribers to a short survey form:

Below the ratings, subscribers are also provided with the opportunity to give some additional open-ended feedback in a text box.

While I like the idea of asking for feedback, the “Rate-this-email” link itself is very small and likely to be overlooked. I’d make it larger and test various locations. Also, the questions could be optimized. “Relevance of offers” and “Usefulness of content” are pretty similar unless Ocado supplies a good deal of non-offer type content such as party planning tips or recipes. A question about frequency would also be helpful.

Marketers need to think about exactly how they will use the data they are collecting. Are they collecting the information to get a general read on subscriber satisfaction? Are the questions being asked providing more information than can simply be gleaned from open and click rates? Or will the marketer make subscriber level changes based on this feedback?

For a subscriber who submits this form and says the overall experience is poor, how will the marketer change their messaging for that particular subscriber?

Chili’s takes a different approach. By clicking on “Yes” or “No” for the “Was this offer relevant to you?” call to action at the bottom of the email, the subscriber is brought to the Chili’s preference center:

The information collected here is specific enough to help Chili’s craft a very targeted email strategy for the subscriber.

In summary, I like the idea of directly appealing to subscribers for program relevancy feedback before they complain, unsubscribe or simply slide into a dormant state.

However, I encourage marketers to only ask for information that they will use to customize or improve the subscriber experience. The only thing worse than sending lots of irrelevant email is asking how to make it better and then continuing to send the same old stuff.

Also, I’d encourage marketers to make an even more direct request for feedback by sending a dedicated email at least once a year.

Have you asked your subscribers to rate your emails? And, if so, how has it worked?

Stephanie Colleton is Director, Response Consulting at email-certification and reputation-monitoring-services firm Return Path.

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