Want to know what your customers think of your startup? Ask them. Now you already know that, but here’s an example from HootSuite that landed in my email box which demos how to ask them effectively:

  • Email from the top. The From is “HootSuite — Ryan Holmes, CEO”. Those three initials still have a lot of influence, more so than any other title or no title at all.
  • A subject line that grabs attention: “Tell Us The Truth — Quick Survey about HootSuite”. That got my attention. Now 9 out of 10 times, I’d glance at the body, see a lot of text, blah, blah, blah and hit delete, which brings me to the third thing they did right:
  • Show you really care by the quality of your execution. Have a look at the screenshot in this post, which is how this survey request appeared in my inbox –
    • A huge catchy headline,
    • A nice custom bit of art,
    • A big fat button,
    • Well-crafted 5 short sentences of text – no longwinded verbiage.
  • Now they had my attention and my interest, so I clicked to the survey. Right at the top: “Thank you for taking this survey. It’s 10-15 questions and should take under 1 minute and, it will really help shape how we evolve our passion and livelihood.
    Thanks HootFansRyan Holmes, @invoker, CEO”
  • The survey looked easy to do, had mouseover tips, and flowed right along. HootSuite used Wufoo – and the process was so smooth that I’ve bookmarked Wufoo for future reference.
  • When a company executes this well to ask me for one minute of my time about how to make their product more of what I want, it’s hard to say no.

One more point – have a look at their home page. The carousel of feature bullets – short headline, short text, and small, comprehensible  image  – is a great way to communicate their story without drowning you in text.
And if it sounds like I learned, or relearned, a few things I should be doing, that’s exactly what happened.


  1. Thank you! That’s refreshing and very helpful right now.
    Bob, would you mind forwarding that email to me at mark (at) estimatesoftware (dot) com? I’d like to see how they put the graphics together.

  2. I have to disagree. How can _any_ kind of survey stand out? I get invited to fill out a survey when I go grocery shopping, go to a restaurant, and just about every time I walk out the door. I get surveys at work about internal web sites. My inbox is already filled with invitations to fill out surveys. Usually 10/20 questions are irrelevant, 5 I have no idea what they mean, and the remaining five multiple choice questions are kind of applicable to a specific problem I encountered, so I skew them in a vain effort to try to tell them what I thought.
    Why not just ask people to reply and let them know what you think? That’s what I did for Zwibbler.com. I asked the top few users what they most wanted. They were generally flattered to be getting a personal email, gave it some thought, and the ideas I got were much more valuable than anything I could get out of a survey.

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