How to Convert Leads into Paid Customers with Email Surveys (and what to do if you can’t)

The first step someone takes when they think your product is the solution to their problem is signing up for your trial, subscribing to your free email course, or registering for a webinar. It’s great when this happens — that means your marketing message is resonating with people! Most people then put these leads into a email drip campaign to move them through the funnel.

But after trying your best to educate and convince them your product is the best — most people never convert. And worst of all, you’re not exactly sure why.

If this sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone.

Customer.io reported a 6% free to paid conversion rate. That means for every 100 who signed up, only 6 converted to paid customers. That’s not good. The average conversion rate varies between industries, but most companies don’t do much better — 1,500 companies participated in Groove’s SaaS survey reported an average of 11% free to paid conversion rate.

How can we do better?

You’ll never convert every lead and there are a lot of factors that are outside your control, but not having enough insights into your customers should never be one of them.

You might say, “That makes sense, but I’m busy. I don’t have enough time talk to everyone!” No problem. You can get amazing insights without talking to anyone by using inline surveys in your email drip campaign.

Here’s an example of an inline email survey:

There are 3 big advantages of using inline email surveys:

  1. It feels like a natural part of your email content
  2. Customers can respond painlessly with one click
  3. You don’t have to send extra emails asking leads to take a survey

It’s literally the most scalable, yet non-intrusive way to get customer intel.

And if you ask the right questions, you can actually get people to recommend your product even if they never convert to a paid customer. It’s very powerful.

So without further ado, here are the 5 surveys you need to include in your email drip campaign:

1. “What is your single biggest challenge you are struggling with?”

Goal: The goal here is to segment your leads into a few different buckets based on their use-case or features they’ll find most valuable. With this information, you can then personalize your marketing.

You might be tempted to directly ask ‘what feature do you want?’ — but that would work horribly.

People are notoriously bad at imagining what they want until they see it. They are, however, good at telling you want they DON’T want. Because of this, you’ll get much more informative responses by asking about their biggest challenge — which basically is the thing they DON’T want to do. You can then interpret their response into features they’ll use.

Best practice: Send this as early in your email flow (the 1st or 2nd email).

2. “How are you enjoying our trial/course so far?”

Goal: This is actually an influence technique disguised as a survey question. The goal is to reinforce the usefulness of your product by getting leads to explicitly say it.

You want to only send this only to people who you believe are getting value by looking at some signals of engagement. For instance, if you have a free multi-day email course, you might send this to people who opened all your emails so far.

The psychological principles of commitment and consistency are well documented, which means people who reply ‘Yes’ will likely uphold what they say. This makes leads easier to convert and opens the door for other forms of support down the line.

Best practice: You want to send at or near the highlight of their experience. For instance, in an email course, you want to ask the day after your leads read your most memorable lesson.

3. “What’s the single biggest reason why you haven’t you bought/subscribed yet?”

Goal: If a lead is far along your drip campaign and still hasn’t converted yet, this is a great question to uncover what objections they might have. You can then use this information to convert these leads and tweak your marketing message to address these objections earlier in the funnel for future leads.

Be aware that this is a ‘hot’ question and most people will find it difficult to answer if asked directly. To get around this, you should make the content light-hearted or funny. Ryan Levesque, the author of Ask, likes to jokingly lead with ‘Do you hate me?’

Best practice: Send this after you’ve educated or attempted to sell your lead as best you can, but they still haven’t converted yet.

4. “What topic would you like to learn about next?”

Goal: So you’ve addressed your lead’s objections but still haven’t been able to convince them to buy/subscribe to your product. That’s OK. You can still try to discover if there’s another product they’d like to use.

Of course, we just can’t ask ‘What should we sell you next?’ directly. Instead, ask if they would like to learn more about X, Y, Z topic. Using these suggestions, you can create a new product in the future or build features in your existing product. When this happens, reach out to these respondents again.

Best practice: Send this to your leads after they are absolutely sure they’re not going to convert. This is generally the very last email of the drip campaign.

5. “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

Goal: This is another influence technique disguised as a Net Promoter Score survey. The goal here is to get people to recommend your course/product by getting them to explicitly say it.

You only want to send this to people who previously answered that they found your course valuable. It doesn’t matter whether if they bought the final product or not. If they liked your course, you’re in their awareness and may still buy from you in the future. When people give you a NPS score of 9 or 10, you can follow-up and ask if they would recommend it to a friend.

Best practice: You want to send this after your prospect has had the chance to get extract some value from your course. It could be as soon as a week the last drip email in your campaign.

Ready to get started?

If you’re ready to incorporate inline email surveys as part of your drip campaign, YesInsights is an easy way to get started. Here’s how easy it is:

1.) Create your survey

2.) Pick your email marketing service:

3.) Copy your survey snippet:

4.) Paste it in your email draft:

That’s it! YesInsights works with all major email marketing services (including Drip, shown in this example) and comes with a 7 day free trial.