Emma now integrates with SurveyMonkey!

Connect your accounts for one-click access to the leading online survey tool

If you're in the business of creating online surveys to collect feedback from customers, volunteers, and colleagues, then you're probably a fan of SurveyMonkey. Well, we've got great news! Now in Emma, you can connect with your SurveyMonkey account and have one-click access to surveys that you link to right from your mailing. It's the easiest way to send your survey invitation in style.

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The Brainiac Guide to Welcome Email Automation

Plan your next event with Emma’s help

Tools for creating invitations, managing RSVPs and more

Emma loves a party. And a webinar. And an open house. Emma’s a pro at planning events, and all the tools you need to promote, invite and create follow-ups for your own in-person or online event already exist in your Emma account (and are included in your monthly pricing) — no need to turn to a third-party solution to handle e-vites. Check out these simple steps for planning your next event with Emma.

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Take our survey for a chance to win a custom design or free emails

Tell us about your email marketing goals, challenges and more so we can help with your holiday plans
Emma Holiday Survey
One lucky survey-taker will win. Click above to take the survey.

My Nashville coworkers remark on the strangeness of planning for the holidays when it's still 80 degrees outside, but here in Portland, the weather has taken a decided turn toward autumn. With a chill in the air, I can't help but think of scarves and boots, pumpkin-flavored lattes and roasted sweet potatoes. And, yes, even holiday-themed emails. The holidays start early at Emma, as our design team gets excited about crafting holiday designs for our customers (from fall-inspired stationery to more traditional Christmas postcards), and as our team of bloggers plans a slew of fresh email tips and resources. (Last year's included, among other things, holiday subject lines and a video of holiday email ideas.)

This year, we'd love your help as we get into the holiday spirit. We want to know what you want to learn this season and how we can help you reach your email marketing goals.

Take our 10-question survey here.

Want another reason to feel merry? By submitting the survey, you're eligible to win one of three prizes of your choice: a custom holiday design, custom signup form for your website or a free month of emails. We'll announce the winner in November, along with results of the survey. Now, go get yourself a pumpkin latte.

And the winner of the Last Word survey is ... Stephen Colbert!

Can Tom Martin convince him to share his views on digital media?

Stephen Colbert captured 37% of the votes.

Ask big questions, and you'll get big answers. That's exactly what happened when we asked our audience to help decide who should have the last word in Tom Martin's social experiment, Talking with Tom, which we're sponsoring.

Each Monday since January, Tom has shared a new video interview with a leading digital thinker, asking them to answer the question, "What's next {in digital media}?" He's assembled an impressive list of folks, and as his last interview approaches in December, we wanted to help him kick it up a notch.

At the beginning of August, we drew up a dream list of possible interviewees for Tom's 52nd — and final — interview, and after a month of voting by new and old friends alike, the winner is … Stephen Colbert.

Colbert received 37% of the votes on a list of folks that included Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Steve Jobs, Marissa Mayer, Kevin Rose, Chris Sacca and Sheryl Sandberg. Steve Jobs and Arianna Huffington came in second and third place, respectively. We also encouraged write-ins and saw suggestions such as Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett and J.K. Rowling. Even will.i.am got a vote.

"We handed the reins to you, the online community, to tell us who you'd like to hear talk about the future of digital media. And you picked a doozy," says our CEO, Clint Smith. "But that's part of the fun. The challenge now will be to reach out to Stephen Colbert exclusively through social media and convince him to be part of the video interview goodness."

Yep, that's right. Now it's up to Tom to land an interview with Colbert via social networks alone. He can tweet at Colbert, send him a message on Facebook, try to join his LinkedIn network (A LinkedIn search reveals 256 results for Stephen Colbert – which one is the real Colbert?), make a video request and post it on YouTube, and, well, you get the idea. Think he can do it?

"To quote Yoda, 'Do or do not. There is no try,'" says Tom. "It's getting Colbert on camera or fail. I don't expect it to be easy. I imagine I'll need to spend a large portion of the rest of the year trying to Colbert to agree to give the last word."

To follow Tom's progress, subscribe to Talking with Tom here. And, while you're there, check out the more than 30 interviews he's already posted (they're around two minutes each). Tom will also post periodic updates on his pursuit of Colbert on his blog. And stay in-the-know on Twitter by following @TomMartin and @emmaemail.

Oh, and it goes without saying, if you know Stephen Colbert or someone who knows Stephen Colbert … or someone who knows someone who knows Stephen Colbert, tweet at us. Let's help make this happen, folks!

Surveys (and leaps) we like to take

Using Emma's free feature to request customer feedback and take your business to new heights

I love a good challenge, so when I saw the opportunity to go skydiving *and* meet some Emma customers in person, I couldn't resist. Located in rural Chester, South Carolina, they are the Carolinas' premier drop zone and consistently draw adrenaline junkies from far and wide (even design consultants from Nashville, Tennessee!). I recently caught up with James LaBarrie, the general manager of Skydive Carolina, to discuss the experience I had using their service and an Emma feature he has found quite beneficial.

Skydive Carolina | Emma Email Marketing Blog
Kelley en route to earth. Also pictured: just another day at the office for her tandem, Chuck, from Skydive Carolina.

James certainly knows a thing or two about customer service. He once worked in athletics at Queens University of Charlotte, a long-time Emma client that formally introduced him to the service, and he quickly became a loyal user. So loyal, in fact, that he took Emma along for the ride when he left for Skydive Carolina. (She is so flattered.)

Skydive Carolina regularly uses the Emma survey feature that's free with every account because it's a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of their customers. James is passionate about the company's commitment to building relationships with clients and providing superior customer service.

"We aren't only hoping to please our customers," he says. "We are hoping to amaze them. But when we fail, I see it as an opportunity to create a raving fan."

Of course, an important element of the service experience is the customer's ability to easily provide feedback and the company's willingness to listen. With a role that is mostly behind the scenes, James does not get the opportunity to interact with each customer who visits. For him, it is often the survey alone that provides the valuable feedback they need.

"The survey is a great way to know when we're falling short and when all is well," he adds. And in those rare instances that a customer does not have the best experience possible, James has been known to follow up with them personally.

The Skydive Carolina survey inquires about everything from how easy it was to find the location to how much the client liked the photo taken during the jump; each bit of information helps James make educated decisions about the business. But it's not just about asking the right questions — James is also very intentional about asking at the right time as well. Jumpers receive a trigger email the day immediately following their dive, when the experience is still fresh enough to recall details.

Kelley at Skydive Carolina | Emma Email Marketing
Survey says: Everyone's gotta try this.

From personal experience, I must say that I could hardly wait to tell *everyone* about my epic leap to earth — in fact, I'm fairly sure I even told the person ringing me up the grocery store. Most notably, I was eager to share my thoughts with the company that made it all possible. After all, they asked for my opinion … and I'm in good company, as quite a number of their guests have also chimed in with specific feedback about their adventure, and it's certainly information that James is eager to receive and use.

It's amazing how much information is available if you simply request it. When thinking about your own business, consider the difference that customer feedback could make for you and follow Skydive Carolina's lead. Heck, you may also like to follow their lead right out of a plane — you definitely wouldn't regret it!

Here's to surveyed customers, empowered email marketing and thrilling jumps.

Meet Cheekwood

How a museum used email and surveys together to make the most of a stunning Dale Chihuly exhibit.

This summer and fall, Nashville's Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art is the temporary home to spectacular glass sculptures by internationally acclaimed artist Dale Chihuly, and the museum extended its normal hours to allow visitors to experience the exhibit in the evenings. Chihuly's work is a sight to be seen any time of day, but artistic nighttime lighting transforms Cheekwood's grounds into a wonderland and transports you — at least mentally — away from the thick, humid Nashville air to an otherworldly place.

While the folks at Cheekwood had planned on offering extended hours on Thursdays and Fridays, overwhelming support for the exhibit made them consider adding another night of Chihuly goodness to the calendar. Rather than just assuming it would be well received, they empowered their email subscribers to make the call.

With Emma's survey feature, Cheekwood sent a short, stylish campaign (using their stunning Chihuly-themed custom stationery) inviting members, subscribers and volunteers to weigh in on the possibility of making Wednesday evening yet another time to drop by and take in the exhibit. They linked to an equally stylish survey, in which they posed the question, "Do you think Cheekwood should add Wednesday evening to Chihuly Nights?" and then gave survey-takers a chance to include comments to support their answer.

The response was fantastic. The campaign containing the link to the survey was emailed to more than 13,000 audience members, and more than 31% of them opened the email. Nearly 2,000 recipients clicked on the link to take the survey, which overwhelmingly favored adding Wednesday as a new Chihuly Night.

It doesn't end there, though. The Cheekwood staff created a follow-up campaign to announce the new night and to thank their subscribers for taking the time to give their input. They even shared the survey results (a whopping 94% were in favor of adding Wednesday nights) along with some of the great comments survey-takers offered up in their responses.

This was Cheekwood's first survey using Emma, and we love the way they kept it simple. They focused their approach on learning the opinions of those closest to the organization, and they thoughtfully followed up with the outcome, letting those email subscribers and Chihuly-enthusiasts be the first to hear the good news.

The “when and where” of surveys

Survey know-how series, part three of four:
Using Emma surveys can help you plan and streamline events.

Now that we've explored some of the best reasons to survey your customers and some things to keep in mind while you're designing a market research survey, let's take a look at another useful application of this free, integrated tool. Planning an event to support your business can be complicated and time-consuming to manage. But using email and surveys together can really streamline the communication and let you focus on, you know, the event planning.

Many of our savvy customers are using the survey submit button to collect event RSVP information. This pairs easily with an invitation email, which can provide event details and a link to the RSVP survey.

For example, consider this. You have an event coming up, and your goal is to invite your customers, while hopefully spreading the word to some prospective customers as well. But you need to know how many beanbag chairs to set up, so you'll be asking people to RSVP. Well, you can use an email campaign as the actual invitation, and then use a survey to collect RSVP responses.

Here's how:

  • Design a survey that asks the RSVP information you need.
  • Create an email campaign with all of the details of the event itself. This is your invitation.
  • Ask people to RSVP by linking to your survey in the email. Voilà.
  • You can even add our Social Sharing feature to your email if you'd like your recipients to be able to share your invitation with others.

This format lets you ask exactly what you need to know: Can you attend? Will you be bringing a guest? Will you be bringing s'mores as your potluck dish? (In that case, you can bet that a few Emma staffers will be there too.)

Once you've heard back from your audience, you can easily organize the responses so that you can report back to your caterer (yep, better order some more marshmallows) and get in touch with those who responded. For example, a timely "Directions and Parking" follow-up email to those who said yes can minimize both frantic inbox-searching for your clients and day-of phone calls for you. Or, after the event is completed, sending a follow-up survey soliciting feedback and suggestions can help you continue to improve.

Also, that whole link-to-the-RSVP-form-straight-from-the-email thing makes *actually* responding a lot easier for your recipients. That way, hopefully you and your staff will only have to say 's'il vous plaît' a few extra times.

The “why” of customer surveys

Survey know-how series, part two of four:
Explore the value of knowing what's on the minds of your customers.

We've all heard banal business expressions from motivational speakers and management books about customer satisfaction, right? Maybe something like …

  • It takes years to win a new customer and seconds to lose one.
  • It costs up to five times more to win a new customer than keep an existing one.
  • A two percent increase in customer retention has the same effect on profits as cutting costs by 10 percent.
  • The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

OK, so that last one was from my mom and not a *traditional* motivational speaker. But if you boil it down, these types of phrases are just reminders to make sure that you're taking care of your most important market: your existing customers.

Sending a customer survey means you don't have to guess what people want.

So, how do we do that?

By asking our customers to tell us about themselves and their experience with us and then – and here's the kicker – listening to them. You have several options when you think about using a survey tool like Emma's to connect with your customers.

1. Getting to know your audience helps you market and serve them better than you can by simply guessing. Additionally, just the experience of being invited to share an opinion can be therapeutic for a frustrated customer, or inspiring for one who likes you already. A positive experience like that is just one more touch-point that you now have with that customer.

2. Negative feedback is no fun, but it can be extremely valuable for you if it helps you spot and fix problems before a greater percentage of your audience catches on. Customers who are willing to go out of their way to share a frustration with you (instead of simply taking their money and their word of mouth elsewhere) are invaluable. Reward these folks and encourage your team to be truly thankful for them.

3. Surveying people who either have stopped being a customer, or decided never to be a customer during the sales process, can help you fill holes in your service and boost both sales and retention in the future.

4. Lastly, you may receive positive feedback, which is motivating and encouraging. At Emma, we regularly share positive messages about our team and our service along with customer suggestions, and they each fuel our staffers in different ways.

What now, you ask?
A good place to start is to think about your business strategy and form a survey to help you with that purpose.

If…
If you're finding engagement is decreasing

Try this:
Ask your customers what type of content and offers they are interested in

And don't forget…
List a few options – don't make your subscribers come up with them

If…
If you're wanting to boost sales and retention

Try this:
Ask your lost sales what you could have offered to snag their business

And don't forget…
Of course, that doesn't mean that you necessarily should offer it. But it'll give you a good idea of what types of customers your competitors are getting

If…
If you're interested in serving your clients better

Try this:
Ask them about themselves and what they've liked in the past so that you can continue to improve

And don't forget…
This also may help you create a picture of your customers, which may surprise you

Happy surveying! One thing to keep in mind in all this, however, is that unless you take great pains to get a representative sample of your clients, take care before you act on results. These types of things have a self-selecting characteristic, in that usually you will hear from the very happy and the unhappy. The reasonably satisfied aren't always motivated to reach out, so take your results with a few grains of salt, or any condiment of your choosing.

Missed part one? Read about the "how" of designing effective surveys.

Next time, we'll explore the "when" of surveys, with a post about using this tool for event registration and follow-up.

The “how” of designing an effective survey

Survey know-how series, part one of four:
Shape your survey questions to get the most valuable information.

In a world full of emails, advertisements and direct mail, adding surveys to your communication mix can be an effective way to let your subscribers know that you're listening as well as talking. The simple act of asking people what they think, want and know can open up a dialogue that will allow you to glean valuable information and also let your subscribers feel heard and valued.

Like email, however, a successful survey needs some careful planning and execution. In this first post of our new survey know-how series, we're covering the "how." That is …

"How the heck can I write solid questions and answers that will result in a positive survey experience for my audience and valuable insight for me?"

  • Think about the layout of your questions. Start with a few non-threatening questions, such as the person's experience with the subject or some non-specific demographic information, such as state of residence or an age range. You probably only have about 20 – 30 questions worth of attention span, so think about what questions are going to get you the most valuable answers. In most cases, asking up to 50 questions, such as Emma now lets you do, is best used for particularly devoted respondents or for a more in-depth look at an issue. In these situations, it's helpful to clearly explain the purpose and benefits of the survey to your audience so that they're more likely to stay engaged.
  • Ask one question at a time, to avoid frustrating or confusing your respondents. For example, if you allow Yes/No as answers for the question "Should we spend less money on A and put that money toward B," you may lose the attention of those who agree that A is getting too much funding but don't agree that B deserves it.
  • Write answers that are both exhaustive and mutually exclusive. To do that, make sure that all possible answers are available, but that none of them overlap. Add an "other" option if necessary to achieve exhaustiveness. So for example, if you're asking for age ranges, the following answer choices are difficult for both 19-year-olds and 30-year-olds: A) 20-30 B) 30-50 C) 51 and above. (Sure, that example seems obvious, but we've all taken surveys and been faced with similarly impossible-to-answer options.)
  • Lastly, use neutral language to avoid bias. Write your questions so that the respondent wouldn't be able to guess your opinion or preference. Steer clear of leading questions or particularly positive or negative language. For example, "What is your favorite Emma summer feature enhancement?" would work better than, "Isn't is awesome that you can now add up to 50 survey questions?"

Taking the time to order your questions thoughtfully and frame your questions effectively creates a survey that can give you just the kind of information you're hoping to learn about your audience. And this knowledge can be a valuable tool in your organization's decision-making.

Once you couple that survey with a "Thanks for taking our survey" automatically triggered email, you're well on your way to having customers who feel pleased and appreciated.

Next in the survey know-how series, we'll explore the "why" of customer experience follow-up surveys.