Email Marketing & Email Marketing Automation

How To Properly Build A Survey With Any Email Platform

Building a webpage with a form is ideal if you’re trying to capture information like a survey. However, getting an email subscriber to click through to a form isn’t advisable. The best approach is to have your subscribers respond to the survey directly by interacting with the email.

Unfortunately, email clients don’t support modern HTML standards, and several email clients have limited support for HTML forms. Here are some examples of email clients that are known to have limitations when it comes to rendering HTML forms:

  • Gmail: Gmail has limited support for HTML forms in its email client. While basic forms may work, more complex forms with JavaScript interactions might not function as expected.
  • Outlook (Desktop): The desktop version of Microsoft Outlook can be inconsistent in rendering HTML forms. It often restricts the functionality of forms and may not support advanced form elements.
  • Yahoo Mail: Yahoo Mail may not fully support HTML forms in emails, especially those with complex elements or scripts.
  • AOL Mail: Similar to Yahoo, AOL Mail may have limitations in rendering HTML forms and might not support certain interactive form elements.
  • Apple Mail: Apple Mail on iOS and macOS has some limitations with HTML forms. While basic forms may work, complex forms may not behave as intended.

Don’t Use Forms In Email

The best practice isn’t to use forms at all. Email clients do support links in HTML so the most reliable means to capture a simple poll or survey via email is by including separate links for each answer. Here’s an example from Netflix:

netflix survey

Nice and simple. No login was necessary, no clicking a link and then opening another form, no entering data…. just a click. That’s simple… and it doesn’t mean you can’t collect the necessary information you want or even pass it back to a CRM or other platform. Here are a few scenarios:

Good: Building Two Different Landing Pages for Yes and No:

By tracking the click-through rates on these links, you can simply review your email platform’s reporting and compare the results for each link. While this is the most straightforward approach, it may not be optimal for a couple of reasons:

  • If a subscriber clicks on the link multiple times, it may erroneously inflate some results.
  • Outside of folks landing on the pages, you can’t capture this data about the subscriber in your analytics or CRM.

Better: Build A Scripted Page That Captures The Subscriber ID and Their Response

If you have a destination page where the votes can be captured with a querystring (eg. ?id=*|subid|*&vote=yes), you can write code to capture unique votes based on the subscriber identifier in your list and their vote. This is a better approach with one exception:

  • The vote isn’t fed back into your marketing platform or CRM so that you can utilize it for personalization, targeting, or segmentation.

Best: Build A Scripted Page Integrated With Your Marketing Platform or CRM

Along with a destination page where the votes can be captured with a querystring (eg. ?id=*|subid|*&vote=yes), you can write code to capture unique votes based on the subscriber identifier in your list and their vote. Additionally, you can utilize the subscriber ID and the platform’s API to push this data back to the CRM or marketing platform. In this scenario, you may wish to allow the subscriber to click more than once, but always store the last vote.

Optimize For Mobile Email

One last tip: Optimize for mobile email clients and users who will vote with their fingers. Providing a region that appears as a button and has both width and height for easy tapping is essential. Here’s an example:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
    <meta charset="UTF-8">
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
    <title>Survey Email</title>
        /* Add some basic styling for the buttons */
        .survey-button {
            display: block;
            width: 100%;
            max-width: 300px;
            margin: 0 auto;
            padding: 10px;
            text-align: center;
            background-color: #007bff;
            color: #fff;
            text-decoration: none;
            font-weight: bold;
            border-radius: 5px;
    <p>Dear recipient,</p>
    <p>We'd love to hear your feedback on our service. Please click one of the options below:</p>
    <!-- Three anchor tags acting as buttons -->
    <a href="*|subid|*&vote=good" class="survey-button">Good</a>    <a href="*|subid|*&vote=okay" class="survey-button">Okay</a>
    <a href="*|subid|*&vote=poor" class="survey-button">Poor</a>

    <p>Thank you for participating in our survey!</p>

In all scenarios, email client compatibility and the overall user experience must be kept in mind. For surveys, using clear and actionable buttons or links is often more reliable than incorporating HTML forms directly into emails.

If you need assistance building surveys and collecting survey data via email, don’t hesitate to request assistance from Highbridge.

Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of the Martech Zone and a recognized expert on digital transformation. Douglas has helped start several successful MarTech startups, has assisted in the due diligence of over $5 bil in Martech acquisitions and investments, and continues to launch his own platforms and services. He's a co-founder of Highbridge, a digital transformation consulting firm. Douglas is also a published author of a Dummie's guide and a business leadership book.

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