Increase NPS Survey Response Rates with Great Subject Lines

By Nancy Parra
on 28 December 2018

Having top-notch NPS survey response rates help ensure a true representation of loyalty and sentiment along your customers’ journey. An advantage of a simple, quick NPS survey is that it garners higher response rates from customers and clients. While the average email click-through rate ranges from 3 to 9%, done correctly NPS survey click through and response rates can be as high as 40% or more. We’re going to explain why and how to make your response rates even better.

Can an NPS Survey Subject Line Really Affect The Response Rate?

Think about this from the customer’s view. Everything they receive in their email inbox, including an NPS survey, is competing with all other emails they received. Customers won’t respond to your survey if they don’t open it. So for the moment let’s think of your customer’s inbox.

Here are some interesting statistics for you:

     35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone

     69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line (Convince and Convert)

The next factor to understand is that an email’s subject line is also the second most important part of an email’s success. 

Expected Length 4%
Intro Paragraph 14%
Other 26%
Subject Line  47%
Sender Name 64%

Study source: SuperOffice.com

Consumers are Wary

People get so many emails on a daily basis that we’ve all learned to skim. We look for words that set off internal alarms and send those straight to trash. You can find an extensive list of alarm words here.  (Note: spam filters analyze subject lines in much the same way.)

Speaking of spam filters, beware of urgency in your subject line. Spam filters also look for words that imply urgency and will filter them.

Is Shorter Better?

Some experts believed that the shorter the subject line the better the open rate. This has been hotly debated for a couple of years. Thinking about how your customers get their emails is more important than following a rule about the number of words or characters in your subject line. Current wisdom is that mobile phone users prefer shorter subject lines. It might pay to test a couple of subject lines to see what length best encourages your customers to respond.

7 Things That in Subject Lines That Increase Survey Response Rates

1. Personalization

2. Emotion

3. Relevance

4. Incentives

5. Clarity

6. Questions

7. Brevity

Survey subject lines are competing with the other close to 150 emails your customers get every day. Let’s take a look at some things that have proven to work:

Personalizing the Subject Line

“The most simple form of service personalization is to learn and use your customer’s name.” – Becky Roemen, CX expert.

Personalizing subject lines can increase open rates by 50% and lead to 58% higher click-through rates, according to data by Yes Lifecycle Marketing made available in a press release. Personalized subject lines with names are opened 21.2% of the time, and those with pronouns are opened 22% of the time. Non-personalized subject lines only had an open rate of 14.1%. Remember your customers can’t take a survey if they don’t open it.

Emails that include the first name of the recipient in their subject line had a higher click-through rate than those that don’t (HubSpot). Subject lines with your customer’s name in them are less likely to be filtered out by spam filters.

What do we mean by personalizing a subject line? Personalization calls the customer by name or uses a personal pronoun.  

  • Angie, Please Share Your Thoughts
  • Jeff, We’re Improving, Could You Help?

No names available? Use a personal pronoun, but remember that it is best to use their name:

  • Your Feedback Helps Make Us Better
  • How Was Your Experience?
  • You Bought an Appliance From Us. Do You Have Feedback?

Emotion in Your Subject Line

Customers will open surveys that drive a relevant emotion.

  • Excitement: It’s Your Time, Alex! Tell Us More
  • Humor: Billy, Here’s Your Chance to Give Bob a High-five or a Thumbs Down
  • Curiosity: Phyllis, What do You Think?
  • Action: Betty, Be The Future of [Company]
  • A sense of specialness: Psst: Cindy, We’re Improving our Process and Your Voice is Needed!

Relevance in Your Subject Line

Create a message that corresponds to their “moment of truth” in the customer journey.

  • Bill, It’s Been a Week. Tell Us What You Think
  • Steph, Your Subscription is Expiring. Tell Us How You Feel
  • Welcome, Cody! Your Opinion is Important

Incentives in Your Subject Line

Incentives to fill out a survey can drive higher response rates. A word of caution: be careful with incentives as they can skew survey results and people can try to game the system to earn more rewards. If you use them, it’s best to make the incentive relevant to your customer base. Incentives can be as simple as helping your customers feel like they have a voice in your product.

  • Tell Us What You Think, Dawn, and help us help you
  • Take Less Than a Minute, Frank, and we will send a donation to (Charity)

Clarity

Back in 2012, Marketing Sherpa did a study on subject lines that tested clarity against creativity and found “On average, each channel garnered 541% more responses from the clear subject lines.” That’s a big difference.

How do you know what’s clear and not misleading?

  • “Tell Us Why You are Happy With Our Service” is misleading and tells the recipient what to do.
  • “Frequent Flyer, We Need Your Input” is too vague.
  • “Share Your Travel Recommendation” is more direct.

Ask a Question

People are hard-wired to notice a question. It can be as simple as Would You Recommend Us?

Keep It Short

As discussed earlier shortness is hotly debated. That said, brevity is not only easier to read on a mobile device, but it is less work for the customer. Less work can equal a higher response.

  • Long: We Want to be The Best [product/service] For You. Take This One-Question Survey and Tell Us What You Think.
  • Short: Your Feedback Matters. Would You Recommend Us?

These tips will go a long way to helping you increase your survey response rates. Keep an eye out for our next blog on how to optimize your survey responses. Soon, we’ll be tackling the “from” line.

Want to learn more about NPS Best Practices?

Download Best Practices Whitepaper

Having top-notch NPS survey response rates help ensure a true representation of loyalty and sentiment along your customers’ journey. An advantage of a simple, quick NPS survey is that it garners higher response rates from customers and clients. While the average email click-through rate ranges from 3 to 9%, done correctly NPS survey click through and response rates can be as high as 40% or more. We’re going to explain why and how to make your response rates even better.

Can an NPS Survey Subject Line Really Affect The Response Rate?

Think about this from the customer’s view. Everything they receive in their email inbox, including an NPS survey, is competing with all other emails they received. Customers won’t respond to your survey if they don’t open it. So for the moment let’s think of your customer’s inbox.

Here are some interesting statistics for you:

     35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line alone

     69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line (Convince and Convert)

The next factor to understand is that an email’s subject line is also the second most important part of an email’s success. 

Expected Length 4%
Intro Paragraph 14%
Other 26%
Subject Line  47%
Sender Name 64%

Study source: SuperOffice.com

Consumers are Wary

People get so many emails on a daily basis that we’ve all learned to skim. We look for words that set off internal alarms and send those straight to trash. You can find an extensive list of alarm words here.  (Note: spam filters analyze subject lines in much the same way.)

Speaking of spam filters, beware of urgency in your subject line. Spam filters also look for words that imply urgency and will filter them.

Is Shorter Better?

Some experts believed that the shorter the subject line the better the open rate. This has been hotly debated for a couple of years. Thinking about how your customers get their emails is more important than following a rule about the number of words or characters in your subject line. Current wisdom is that mobile phone users prefer shorter subject lines. It might pay to test a couple of subject lines to see what length best encourages your customers to respond.

7 Things That in Subject Lines That Increase Survey Response Rates

1. Personalization

2. Emotion

3. Relevance

4. Incentives

5. Clarity

6. Questions

7. Brevity

Survey subject lines are competing with the other close to 150 emails your customers get every day. Let’s take a look at some things that have proven to work:

Personalizing the Subject Line

“The most simple form of service personalization is to learn and use your customer’s name.” – Becky Roemen, CX expert.

Personalizing subject lines can increase open rates by 50% and lead to 58% higher click-through rates, according to data by Yes Lifecycle Marketing made available in a press release. Personalized subject lines with names are opened 21.2% of the time, and those with pronouns are opened 22% of the time. Non-personalized subject lines only had an open rate of 14.1%. Remember your customers can’t take a survey if they don’t open it.

Emails that include the first name of the recipient in their subject line had a higher click-through rate than those that don’t (HubSpot). Subject lines with your customer’s name in them are less likely to be filtered out by spam filters.

What do we mean by personalizing a subject line? Personalization calls the customer by name or uses a personal pronoun.  

  • Angie, Please Share Your Thoughts
  • Jeff, We’re Improving, Could You Help?

No names available? Use a personal pronoun, but remember that it is best to use their name:

  • Your Feedback Helps Make Us Better
  • How Was Your Experience?
  • You Bought an Appliance From Us. Do You Have Feedback?

Emotion in Your Subject Line

Customers will open surveys that drive a relevant emotion.

  • Excitement: It’s Your Time, Alex! Tell Us More
  • Humor: Billy, Here’s Your Chance to Give Bob a High-five or a Thumbs Down
  • Curiosity: Phyllis, What do You Think?
  • Action: Betty, Be The Future of [Company]
  • A sense of specialness: Psst: Cindy, We’re Improving our Process and Your Voice is Needed!

Relevance in Your Subject Line

Create a message that corresponds to their “moment of truth” in the customer journey.

  • Bill, It’s Been a Week. Tell Us What You Think
  • Steph, Your Subscription is Expiring. Tell Us How You Feel
  • Welcome, Cody! Your Opinion is Important

Incentives in Your Subject Line

Incentives to fill out a survey can drive higher response rates. A word of caution: be careful with incentives as they can skew survey results and people can try to game the system to earn more rewards. If you use them, it’s best to make the incentive relevant to your customer base. Incentives can be as simple as helping your customers feel like they have a voice in your product.

  • Tell Us What You Think, Dawn, and help us help you
  • Take Less Than a Minute, Frank, and we will send a donation to (Charity)

Clarity

Back in 2012, Marketing Sherpa did a study on subject lines that tested clarity against creativity and found “On average, each channel garnered 541% more responses from the clear subject lines.” That’s a big difference.

How do you know what’s clear and not misleading?

  • “Tell Us Why You are Happy With Our Service” is misleading and tells the recipient what to do.
  • “Frequent Flyer, We Need Your Input” is too vague.
  • “Share Your Travel Recommendation” is more direct.

Ask a Question

People are hard-wired to notice a question. It can be as simple as Would You Recommend Us?

Keep It Short

As discussed earlier shortness is hotly debated. That said, brevity is not only easier to read on a mobile device, but it is less work for the customer. Less work can equal a higher response.

  • Long: We Want to be The Best [product/service] For You. Take This One-Question Survey and Tell Us What You Think.
  • Short: Your Feedback Matters. Would You Recommend Us?

These tips will go a long way to helping you increase your survey response rates. Keep an eye out for our next blog on how to optimize your survey responses. Soon, we’ll be tackling the “from” line.

Want to learn more about NPS Best Practices?

Download Best Practices Whitepaper


About the author

Nancy Parra

Nancy Parra, Content Manager at AskNicely, is the author of several best-selling books. When she's not thinking up new content, she's at home writing murder mysteries and making homemade candy.

Other posts by Nancy Parra

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