How To Read Your Customers' Minds With One Email

man thinking office

How well do you know your customers?

Getting to know your audience is one of the most important parts of growing a business and it can be as easy as sending a single email with a well-structured survey. With the in-depth understanding that you’ll gain from conducting a customer satisfaction survey, you’ll be able to create better online shopping experiences for your customers and build more targeted marketing campaigns that expand your influence and help you reach your ideal audience.

In this post, we’ll walk-through how you can collect actionable data by building more powerful surveys and delivering them right into the hands of your customers via email. We’ll also take a look at how you can analyze the results of your survey to anticipate the needs of your customers and design the products and services that they actually want.

You’ll never find out how your customers really feel unless you ask. In fact, for every dissatisfied customer that complains about your business, there are 26 others who won’t say anything at all. So even though writing a survey may seem intimidating, it’s actually one of the most effective tools that you have for gathering valuable feedback from your audience.

Let’s find out what your customers are really thinking.

Planning A Successful Survey

person laptop notebookBefore you start building your survey, you’ll need to do some prep work to figure out which questions you should be asking and how you should be asking them. Here are two key things you should consider:

1. What are you hoping to learn?

Ideally, your survey should be built around accomplishing a single goal. A laser-focused set of questions will produce higher quality results that are easier to analyze and put into action. Every question in your survey should act as a puzzle piece, helping you gain a more thorough understanding of how you can serve your customers better one step at a time.

2. Who are you going to be asking?

It’s very important to think about who will be participating in this survey. Determine whether you’re going to be collecting data from your entire list, new customers, long term clients, etc. and then keep that in mind while you’re putting together a set of questions.

Narrowing down your target audience will help you write questions that speak directly to your customers’ familiarity and experiences with your product. Try to make use of any data or insights that you already have about your audience to figure out who you should be targeting.

Asking The Right Questions

Okay, now that we’ve figured out what you’re trying to accomplish and who you’re going to be contacting, it’s time to think about the most important part of your customer satisfaction survey: The questions.

If you’re aiming to take a general pulse of how your customers feel about your business, it can be as easy as asking these three questions:

  • What are we doing that you like?
  • What could we be doing better?
  • What would you like to see us offer?

With just the answers to these questions, you can gather a wealth of data to help you improve your business. You’ll be able to discover your customer’s pain points and favourite features as well as get ideas for future products and services.

Another great option for getting customer feedback quickly and easily is by putting together embeddable one-click surveys with apps like ClickInsights. These are ideal for collecting single pieces of information at a time from your user base and their bite-sized format makes participating much more appealing for customers.

Although they’re highly customizable, this example survey that was sent to me directly from ClickInsights shows how a more streamlined approach can simplify the process for your customers.  

clickinsights example survey

However, if you’re looking to deep dive into certain topics, you’ll need to ask questions that more closely relate to your products. For these kinds of surveys, a tool like SurveyMonkey is a better choice. While you won’t be able to embed your survey in an email, you will be able drop it right onto a landing page.

The questions that you ask are going to depend on what you’re hoping to achieve, but they should always follow a few general rules. Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Keep It Simple

Your questions need to be as simple as possible to ensure that you’re getting results you can actually use. Be straightforward - if you’re looking for an opinion on a particular product or feature, ask about it specifically - and make sure that you’re only asking one question at a time.

An overcomplicated survey can seem like way too much effort and discourage customers from participating, so keep it short and sweet.

2. Be Goal-Oriented

Every question that you ask should be asked with a purpose in mind. Think about the central challenge that you’re trying to overcome with your survey and brainstorm questions that can help you get the data you need to be successful.

There’s no room for fluff, so make sure that every question is actually useful to you. Remember: You need to show your customers how much you value their time by not wasting it.

3. Ask Closed And Open-Ended Questions

Closed-ended questions with yes/no, multiple choice, and scaled answers can be great for collecting demographic data, but your most fascinating insights will probably come from asking open-ended questions. Think about it this way: Use closed-ended questions when you’re looking for a specific response and open-ended questions when you want general feedback or suggestions.

Give your customers lots of opportunities to share how they really feel about your business and products. What they have to say may surprise you!

4. Use Neutral Language

Avoid using leading or loaded questions when you’re building your survey. These landmines can completely skew your results by unfairly influencing the way a participant responds. Try to keep your wording as neutral as possible and avoid any emotional language or value statements about your business, products, or customers.

You should also avoid making assumptions about your customers’ experiences. Don’t say things like: “We’ve recently made this tool better…” and “We know our customers love our new features…” - the less biased a question, the more valuable the response.

Writing Your Email

laptop houseplant coffeeNow that you’ve created your survey, it’s time to write a well-tailored email to deliver it to your customers.

Subject Line

Every great email starts with a compelling subject line. Your subject line should be succinct while also accurately describing the contents of your email. This part will definitely take a bit of creativity since you need to be able to catch your audience’s attention and make them actually want to open your email.


Everyone gets bombarded with an overwhelming amount of emails on a daily basis, so anything that you can do to stand out matters. This is where personalization comes into play. Even by just adding a personalized subject line to your email, you can boost open rates by 26% - but that’s not where your personalization efforts should end.

Start the email off by introducing yourself and letting your customers know exactly why you’re conducting the survey. Being transparent with them will not only help your customers contextualize your questions, but it will also give them a real reason to give you a hand.

To help nudge your customers along, you should also remind them of any recent success that they’ve had with your product. Whether they’ve just hit a milestone or made a new purchase, you need to keep the value that your business adds to their lives at the top of their minds.

Be sure to sign your email personally (even if it’s being sent out through automation) and ask that the recipients reply to you directly. This personal touch will go a long way.


Unless you’re only targeting a small segment of your audience, you’ll definitely want to use email automation to make sending out your survey more efficient. Platforms like Vero and MailChimp are great for sending out large batches of targeted emails. If you use Shopify, the MailChimp app can also help you refine your targeting by syncing up customer data and automatically capturing emails to build out your list.

Another important factor to consider is the timing of your email, although the best time to send emails can vary from industry to industry and business to business. You’ll have to experiment and pay attention to your open and clickthrough rates over time to figure out what works best for your customers.

Before sending your emails out, be sure to double-check that they’re mobile-friendly. Responsiveness has become a crucial part of email design, since ⅔ of all emails are now opened on mobile devices. Test your email on smartphones and tablets to make sure that it’ll show up properly for your customers, regardless of which device they’re using.

Putting Your Data Into Action

Once the responses have poured in from your survey, you’ll be able to take that raw data and put it to good use.

Staying organized should be a top priority for you when you’re compiling the results of your survey. If dragging and dropping data into Excel isn’t your thing, you should definitely look into using something like Zapier’s Email Parser. This bot can pull data together from email responses and automatically sort it into an easy-to-read dashboard which is perfect if you aren’t already using a platform that organizes your results for you.

zapier email parser

After you’ve compiled your results, look for trends in the data. Keep an eye out for common responses and don’t be afraid of your customers having something negative to say about your business. In the long run, negative feedback is even more valuable than positive feedback because negative feedback will make your business better.

Now that you’ve collected and analyzed your data, you should have a clearer idea of what you need to improve on and what you could be doing to fine-tune your business. If you end up implementing changes inspired by the results of your survey, let your customers know - they’ll appreciate that their opinions have not only been heard, but also used to make things better.


Who knew that reading minds could be so easy?

With a carefully crafted customer satisfaction survey, you’ll finally have the insights you need to create a more convenient and efficient shopping experience for your customers.

If you have any more questions about understanding your audience, we’d love to help you out! Let us know in the comments below.

kevin donnelly shopify-author

About The Author

Kevin Donnelly is a content creator at Shopify with an unhealthy Drake obsession.