A tech marketing manager seeks the best response to a new thought leadership initiative

A seasoned software marketing manager just wrote me. She’s looking for tips on getting the best possible response on an important marketing email for her company.

“As a growth stage company, we haven’t earned a lot of credibility yet outside our direct customers. What is one thing can I put in my email that will really make the people we are sending it to take the survey?”

This is the kind of question lots of marketing managers in tech have—so I’m sharing a sanitized version of our exchange here.

What makes a survey email get the best response rate?

Earned credibility does matter—just as she points out. We’re also statistically more likely to take a survey from a known reliable entity that often does research, like Wired Magazine or JD Edwards or ForeSee. So what does a growing tech brand do when it’s building that reputation?

The secret to a better survey response rate

The one thing I’ve seen work in dozens of email surveys is appealing to the self interests of the people on your list. Sounds simple—but in practice many growing tech brands try to “sugarcoat” why one should respond, and don’t think through the actual self interest angle that works for thought leaders. Or they have too many types of people in the list–meaning it’s not segmented enough to drill into needs at an individual level.

If you want to use this tip, you have to think backwards from the survey results you will be getting. As a B2B thought leader, you probably have a sense of the survey results you expect . . . at least a ball park.

Drilling into getting a better survey response rate–the “what’s in for me” way

Step 1: Let’s say you’re right.

Step 2: If so, what does that mean for your typical prospect? What are the direct implications of those results? If there are many, then perhaps that suggests a natural list segmentation.

Think a little beyond the need for your solution into their business-level impacts. There’s a great blog post in this, too, while you think through it!

Step 3: Quantify it if you can. Really get as precise as possible. Not precise yet? Maybe the survey questions could use a quick paring so you can get to precision.

Step 4: Make that one idea the subject line of your email, and embed it as the major reason they should take your survey. Because if they take it, you’ll share with them ahead of any public release the information that could “be of direct consequence” to them that they can’t “get anywhere else.”

Step 5: While they survey may be anonymous, let them sign up for the survey results. You can always just “share” survey results directly, but a more sales friendly way to do it is to email it to them from a customer advocate on your team and make sure there’s a follow up call to discuss their thoughts.

It’s an open door to tying in selling your solution through thought leadership approach.

While you’re at it, make sure you use the survey results in all the many ways you can “Use PR to Boost Sales.”