MailChimp surveys are your most powerful tool for personalizing your email marketing

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Holy guacamole, there are a lot of great reasons to use  MailChimp surveys and polls in your email marketing. From taking the mental temperature for customer satisfaction after a purchase to learning more about your potential customers, surveys give you direct access to how people feel about your business. Side note: Surveys are also rule #532 in the Ferengi’s Book of Acquisition (more on Star Trek jokes in a minute).

This is a good thing (even if it’s bad feelings) because the more you know about how customers and potential customers feel about what you are selling, the more you can make it better customized to suit their needs.

Surveys and polls in MailChimp also tend have higher open and click rates, because who wouldn’t want to share their opinion (after all, isn’t that why the internet was invented)?

How to create an effective MailChimp Survey

Before we get into looking at SurveyMonkey, Google Forms and TypeForm integrations with MailChimp, let’s start by talking about how to get the maximum bang for your buck with surveys that you send via email:

  1. Make your survey or poll quick to complete. A few specific questions that will make sense to people as to why you’re asking (or explain why you’re asking, if it’s not obvious).
  2. Make your survey timely. For example, if you want to know how customers are using a mattress you just sold them, don’t send a survey 10 minutes after they bought if from your website—because they won’t have it yet.
  3. Don’t send surveys too often. Everyone likes to share their opinion, but no one wants to do it every few weeks. Send surveys at key points in a marketing plan: like after a large sale has ended (to see why they didn’t purchase) or after they sign up for your list (so you can learn about who they are and what they’re looking for).
  4. Make surveys easy to analyze. You can’t just collect data, it’s got to be easy for you to figure out what to do after you’ve collected it. So ensure that each question or answer they can pick will have a clear benefit or action to your business.
  5. If possible, provide a reason to fill it out. If you really need the data from a survey or poll for your business, give people a reason to take time out of their day to fill it it. Things like contests (win a $50 Amazon gift card) or discounts (get 20% off your next order if you answer the questions) can go a long way.

Integrating MailChimp’s simple polls and surveys into emails

Now that we’ve covered the why asking your customers their opinions, let’s look at how we can use surveys and polls  in MailChimp to learn more about the people on our list.

Luckily, MailChimp comes with built-in tools to let you create rating scales and actual surveys, directly from within their campaign and automation builder—this is definitely a feature that makes MailChimp better than their alternatives.

The only caveats are that subscribers can only vote once, there can only be one survey per campaign, each survey response has to be unique, and links inherit the link colour from your HTML template.

What’s a MailChimp survey? And how to do we create one?

Creating a survey in MailChimp is an easy way to add a single multiple choice question to your emails. For example:

What’s your favourite Star Trek series?
Star Trek Original
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Voyager

(To which the answer is TNG…or, anything but DSN.)

To create a MailChimp survey like this, you’d add the following merge tags to any email:

What’s your favourite Star Trek series?
*|SURVEY: Star Trek Original|*
*|SURVEY: Star Trek: The Next Generation|*
*|SURVEY: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine|*
*|SURVEY: Star Trek: Voyager|*

When you send the email, your subscribers will see the survey options as links which they can then click on.

So, why would you do this? Well, this is where personalization begins (personalized emails receive higher open rates, but even better, they generate more revenue). For the above example, if you asked the Star Trek question, you’d then learn what your subscribers are mostly interested in—and could create content or even products around the most popular series. Or, you could begin sending different emails to each group of people with automations, so: Star Trek Voyager-related emails to people who voted for that, or Star Trek Deep Space Nine emails to one person who voted for that (probably as a joke).

What’s a MailChimp poll? And how to do we create one?

Creating a poll in MailChimp is an easy way to add a way to rate anything to your email, by giving subscribers a way click on a number from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest).

While polls are clickable links from (lowest) 1 through 10 (highest), you do have the ability to add more than one to campaigns (unlike simple surveys where you can only use one per email).

To create a MailChimp poll, like this:

How much do you dislike Star Trek Deep Space Nine?
(lowest) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (highest)

You’d add the following to your MailChimp campaign:

*|POLL:RATING:H|* How much do you dislike Star Trek Deep Space Nine?*|END:POLL|*

When you send the email, subscribers would see the 1 through 10 link, styled using the default style in your HTML template.

From there, you’ll be able to see in MailChimp reports how many subscribers voted for each number (which is a feature available in free and paid accounts) as well as then segment subscribers, based on their responses. For example, if you want to send an email to Deep Space Nine lovers, you could send an email to people who voted 1-3 (since they don’t hate the show, which is weird). Or if you wanted to send an email just to people who really hate DSN, you could send a campaign to people who voted either 8, 9 or 10.

Just like MailChimp surveys, running polls helps you learn about your subscribers, making it much easier and more effective to talk to them, get them to open and click emails, and even purchase things from you. That’s because the more you can learn your list, the more value you can provide to it and the more you can empathize with the people on it. Who wouldn’t want to get to know their subscribers better? Quark, that’s who (sorry bad DSN joke).

Why I avoid using Google Forms in MailChimp

Google Forms can be a quick and easy (and free!) way to collect customer feedback. And, you can link to them from any MailChimp campaign by simply adding a link to a Google Form in a campaign.

The problem is that in order to use that data (and you’ll want to use that data), you need to get complicated with getting the survey results back into MailChimp.

Google Forms doesn’t directly integrate with MailChimp, but you can use Zapier to connect the two. While Zapier is fairly easy to use, Google Forms and Zapier can get complicated with multi-step zaps and filters. For that reason, I don’t personally use Google Forms to run surveys on my own MailChimp campaigns.

Embed Surveymonkey in MailChimp

Unlike Google Forms, SurveyMonkey directly integrates with MailChimp. That means, you simply connect your SurveyMonkey account to your MailChimp accounts in your integration settings page, and select which survey you want to send and embed  it to a campaign.

This makes SurveyMonkey a great option for creating surveys and polls in MailChimp, because you get the survey results within MailChimp’s reports and you can even segment based on whether or not a subscriber has started or completed a survey (that way you’ll never remind people who’ve completed a survey to fill it in again). Woo!

UPDATE: To be perfectly honest, the reason most people (myself included) didn’t use SurveyMonkey for surveys with MailChimp in the past was because it was ugly. Really ugly. They’ve recently redesigned everything, made their surveys mobile-friendly, and I will be taking a tough look at the possibility of using them in the future.

SurveyMonkey’s new interface looks great, even on mobile. It makes it easy to embed SurveyMonkey in Mailchimp to learn more about your subscribers.

Note that while you can see responses to your survey from SurveyMonkey on MailChimps reports, you can’t segment based on specific answers. SurveyMonkey is also free for your first 100 responses (and paid if you collect more than that, or want their advanced features).

Using Typeform with MailChimp for Surveys

My favourite way to survey my own list is to use Typeform with MailChimp. Typeform surveys look great, work well on mobile devices and integrate with MailChimp in some power ways, using easy Zapier functions (no filters, no multi-steps). You can also include the first question of a 1-10 poll from Typeform, directly in your MailChimp email.

According to Typeform, embedding a question doubles your CTR. You can use Typeform to conduct a survey with Mailchimp.

To send a Typeform survey using MailChimp, you simply include a link to the survey in your campaign. From there, you can watch the results come in on your Typeform account, and analyze the data from there (or export it as a CSV).

To get that survey data back into MailChimp, say, if you wanted to track which answer was selected for each question from each subscriber, you’d use this pre-built zap. From there, as you build the Zap, you can select which question should fill in which merge field on your MailChimp list—don’t worry, if that seems complicated, I teach a lesson on this in Chimp Essentials and walk you through how to set it up in a step-by-step video.

Typeform also lets you use something called a hidden field (available on paid accounts), which lets you share information about a subscriber with Typeform. This is handy because if you’re sending a survey to your list, you already know their email address, so why ask for it a second time on Typeform? With hidden fields, you don’t have to, and I show you how to do this in Chimp Essentials.

By creating a zap from Typeform to MailChimp, you can segment based on survey results and whether or not someone filled in a specific survey. Typeform, like SurveyMonkey, is free up to 100 responses (and is then paid if you want to collect more or use their advanced features).

Adding Typeform results to merge fields in MailChimp to use your survey information in your email marketing.

In conclusion…

Before diving into surveys and polls in MailChimp or embedding SurveyMonkey form into MailChimp, you should make sure you’ve setup the basic settings—read my tutorial for that right here.

You don’t have to be a Ferengi to master MailChimp for your business. To watch step-by-step video tutorials on creating simple forms and polls in MailChimp, using SurveyMonkey with MailChimp or even getting data from Typeform back into MailChimp—sign up for Chimp Essentials, my MailChimp tutorial course.

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