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March 10, 2014 // 8:00 AM

How to Use NPS Surveys for More Powerful Marketing Automation

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nps_surveys_marketing_automationHave you ever used NPS surveys in your marketing? If you dismissed NPS as something only customer service should worry about, think again. If you're not using these surveys, you're missing out on a big way to grow your business. 

How? Well, I was reading the HubSpot Ecommerce section the other day, and stumbled on this brilliant article from Tom Schwab, Founder of Goodbye Crutches, on using NPS surveys to fuel post-transactional emails. I'm not an ecommerce marketer, but it got me thinking -- could NPS surveys help all marketers get more customers into their funnels, and nurture those leads to become customers?

Thus, this article was born.

If you're an ecommerce marketer or interested in the technical implementation of the NPS survey with HubSpot tools, check out Tom's post. Otherwise, keep on reading. We'll quickly walk you through the basics of NPS and how you can use it to guide your marketing automation. 

What Is NPS and How Can You Calculate It?

For those who haven't heard of NPS before, here's a quick rundown on what it is. NPS is short for Net Promoter Score -- it's a way to measure customer loyalty and happiness. You send a survey to a group of customers, leads, partners, etc. with one question: "On a scale of 0 - 10, how likely would you recommend [INSERT YOUR BUSINESS NAME HERE]?" 

Respondents will fall into three categories:

  • Promoters: Anyone who rates you a 9 or 10. They'll consistently recommend your company when asked about it.
  • Passives: These folks give you a 7 or 8 on the survey. They'll be fairly neutral when asked about your company and not deter anyone from buying from you.
  • Detractors: This group gives you a score between 0 and 6. They will discourage others from buying from your company.

To get the NPS score, you calculate the percentage of people who are Promoters and subtract the percentage of people who are Detractors. The fewer Detractors, the better your score will be. You'll end up with a score somewhere between -100 (people don't like your company too much) to 100 (people love your company). 

There are lots of situations you can use NPS in, like measuring customer happiness or determining the effectiveness of a piece of content ... or even using it to guide your marketing automation and customer acquisition strategies.

How to Use NPS Surveys to Fuel Your Marketing Automation

Typical marketing automation is fueled by data on what actions people take on your website and how they interact with your marketing. You know -- someone gets added to a workflow because they visit your pricing page, or click on an email, or subscribe to you blog. All of this is based on behavior.

NPS surveys give you a whole different type of data -- how people feel about your company. It can help guide your marketing automation in different ways than you're used to. NPS surveys can help you set up your marketing automation to 1) nurture the leads into customers, 2) weed out folks who don't really want to hear from you anymore (and could be dragging down your email marketing stats), and 3) bring new people into your marketing funnel. 

Here's how you can set this all in motion.

1) The Email Survey

First step is actually emailing the survey to part of your database. I'd recommend sending at least two sets of emails -- one to your leads and one to your customers -- so you can better analyze their feedback and segment them down the road. (Note: You can segment even further than that if you have different lead and customer types.)

The email should be short and simple -- taking the survey is the one and only call-to-action you should have in the email. Here's an example of an email you could send:


By clicking on the survey numbers, people will be taken to a custom thank-you page and their response will get recorded in their contact record in your database.

I'd recommend sending two reminder emails to people who don't fill out the survey on the first try -- you'll get a higher response rate than a one-and-done email. 

2) The Thank-You Pages

When people click on their response, they'll be taken to a page to thank them for taking the survey. Depending on which number your leads and customers click on, they should be shown different content on that thank-you page. For example, people who fall into the Promoters bucket shouldn't be shown the same content at Detractors -- these are two different audiences with different follow-up needs. 

If your marketing software has dynamic content enabled, you can make different content appear to different audiences on the same thank-you page. If not, you'll have to make three separate pages -- one for each type of responder. (If you decide to do that, be sure you're not running into any duplicate content issues.) 

What type of content should you put on that thank-you page? It all depends on your goals.

For Promoters, you could try giving them a form-free piece of content and ask them to share it with others. They'll be naturally more excited to share it simply because they'll be more likely to recommend you in general.

For Neutral folks, maybe you urge them to follow you on social media. It's a low-touch way to stay in touch that could eventually help them become promoters.

For Detractors, you might offer a way for them to unsubscribe from your emails or change what types of emails they receive from you. It seems counterintuitive, but if you can creatively position the unsubscribe, you could actually make your Detractors love you just a little bit more. Groupon's unsubscribe page does a great job at letting you unsubscribe ... while also making you like them. At the very least, it could help you cleanse your list a bit

Regardless of what content you show on the thank you page, just remember it should be tailored to the NPS bucket they're in. 

3) Lists From Results 

After you're done collecting results, make lists in your contact database of your Promoters, Neutrals, and Detractors. I'd suggest making these lists "smart" -- aka, allowing them to be automatically updated based on actions people make on your website. They'll be easier to maintain when you're running email nurturing. You wouldn't want someone who used to be a Detractor but is now a Promoter to get an email catered to a Detractor, right? Enabling smart lists will help make sure your marketing automation is accurate over time. 

To make lists "smart," you can either automatically add people to a certain list based on what they click in an email (if you're using dynamic content on your landing pages), or based on which landing page they visit (if you're creating separate landing pages for Promoters, Neutrals, and Detractors). Don't forget that you've already segmented leads and customers in the initial step -- so you'll end up with six different lists total.

As people move through this NPS nurturing campaign, they can be automatically removed and added from these smart lists, too, if you have the right marketing automation workflows set up. 

4) Nurturing and Smart Content for Each List

Now, you've just got to take the strategy you used in the second step and expand on it over time. Figure out how you want to interact with your Promoters, Neutrals, and Detractors -- if at all -- to make them become (or stay) in the ideal NPS "stage." 

The key to creating a nurturing plan for each is to remember what each of these groups typically do. For example, Promoters ... promote things. So capitalize on that behavior. For example, you could send all Promoters content that was gated with a button that says "Email This to a Friend to Get This Offer." Or let them know about a free perk that can only be accessed by referring folks to your business. 

For Detractors, you might want to steer clear of doing any more email marketing to them -- maybe even go so far as to put them on one of your suppression lists. Instead, you could try interacting with them in a low touch way, such as talking with them on Twitter. If you're a HubSpot customer, you can easily monitor this list in Social Inbox -- otherwise, you'll have to manually go through to follow and monitor the Detractors yourself. 

Neutral folks are a little trickier. You want to turn them into customers and Promoters, right? You've got to figure out what will delight them. This could be access to premium content, or maybe a form-free offer they can download -- no strings attached. My guess is that you'll have to run a few tests before you figure out what this group of people enjoys most. 

The key to successfully executing your nurturing strategy lies in giving each NPS segment the right content at the right place at the right time. 

5) Send a Follow-Up Survey

After you've nurtured each of these groups consistently for a set period of time, you'll want to send out another NPS survey to see how well your nurturing worked. I'd recommend making this time period either your average buying cycle, or once a quarter, so your respondents have enough time to move to the next stage.

And then rinse and repeat as necessary -- you may find that NPS is a great way for your business to nurture leads and customers, or it might not be the best way to segment. Only by testing can you find out for sure!

How are you using marketing automation to nurture leads into customers? Would you try segmenting by NPS?
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Topics: Email Marketing Marketing Automation

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