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Sending Survey Emails? Learn From Orbitz' Example

Orbitz has been my online travel site of choice for years – I’ve strayed occasionally, but they always seem to be where I end up booking.

Most recently, I booked a hotel room in Philadelphia through them for New Year’s Eve. The day I checked out, this email arrived in my inbox:
Orbitz Post Trip Survey Email

Triggered survey emails like this are a nice touchpoint that can help a brand learn more about its customers and create a better experience for them in the future.

The challenge, of course, is getting people to:

  1. Actually take the survey; and
  2. Provide useful information.

Sure, you can offer a reward to people for completing the survey (this takes care of #1), but you’re likely to get people flying through the survey just to get the reward (which causes a problem with #2). So how do you get quality survey data from a high proportion of your subscribers?

I think this email does a great job at achieving both aims. Here’s why:

It’s Timely

This email showed up while the stay was fresh in my mind – Orbitz sent it the day my reservation ended.

Had they waited (either intentionally or due to an inability to generate and send the email promptly), the experience I had at the hotel might have faded from memory – meaning I wouldn’t have felt comfortable sharing my thoughts about it, or simply wouldn’t have cared enough anymore to bother doing so.

It’s Easy To Use

This is a beautifully simple email. It tries to do one thing – get me to click to the survey form – and it focuses solely on that. Yes, there are some navigation links at the top but they don’t distract from the point of the email.

And Orbitz was smart about the call-to-action: they realized that I might try clicking any of three places to get to the survey form…

  • “Take our hotel survey”
  • “Click Here”
  • The image of the survey link

… so every one of those is linked to the form. No chance for confusion there.

It Sells The Survey Effectively

Upon receiving emails like this, I typically have two questions:

  • What’s in it for me if I fill this survey out? They’re not offering me any discounts…
  • What do you do with this data? What’s the point?

Orbitz anticipates and answers those questions cleanly, right in the email body. They even remind me that I’ve probably used others’ feedback to make the best choices when booking my own stays (and they’re right, I do). The appeals to karma and reciprocity make it hard to not take a few minutes and share my thoughts on the hotel.

Other Quick Thoughts

There’s a lot I could say about this email, but the important thing is that it’s focused, relevant, timely and effective.

A few other things that came to mind:

  • I like that they personalized the email body with the hotel name – good thinking, since I might have stayed at multiple places (perhaps not booked via Orbitz) during my “trip.”
  • Human review of this message should have caught the broken HTML in the bold-text line of copy at the top.
  • Interesting that they put information on how to add Orbitz to my address book in both the preheader and the footer – and I love the “learn how” link that accompanies it. (Here’s where it goes.)
  • I’m not crazy about the subject line. Technically, I didn’t take a trip (I live outside of Philadelphia, and I did not book any airfare through Orbitz as part of this reservation). I also think that adding the hotel name might be helpful. I’d test the current subject line against variations like “Tell us about your stay, Justin!” and “How was Club Quarters at Philadelphia?” to try to increase response.
  • I wonder what, if anything, Orbitz will do to personalize future emails to me based on my responses. Will they suggest similar hotels? Email me in 10-11 months to see if I want to stay there again for the next New Year’s?

All in all, this was a quality survey email and I’d love to see more like it.

Justin Premick, Director of Education Marketing at AWeber

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1 Comment

  • by Scott Hardigree | Indiemark
    Posted March 4, 2010 10:57 am 0Likes

    Wow, great find and great observation!

    With so many data points available to the marketer, personalization can often times become unwieldy, as evidenced by their subject line. But their execution seems to strike a good balance.

    Thanks to your responses they’ll be able to take personalization even further–or at the very least–receive feedback that’s worth its weight in CRM gold.

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