Mailing list or CRM software often include the ability to perform a “mail merge,” sending each recipient a customized version of your email. Combining mail merge information with the Data Overlays feature, you can easily create segments and filters based on information already stored in your mailing list.

Data Overlays or Survey Targets?

You may be unsure if data overlays or survey targets fit your needs better. It is possible to use Survey Targeting in a similar way, sending each recipient (or group of recipients) a different survey target link.

Mail Merge with Data Overlays

  • Can use the same survey link for every survey taker
  • Useful for tying mailing-list specific information directly to the survey taker.

Survey Targets

  • Each target is a different link for the same survey.
  • Automatically create broad segments based on which target was used
  • Useful for differentiating respondents by pre-defined criteria. For example, using the same survey with different survey target for each division of a company, different retail locations, or different events.

These two features can be used together in complimentary ways. Here are examples of how you might use that:

In human resources and workplace assessment

You wish to run a quarterly “pulse” survey, using survey targets to automatically segment responses based on which quarter the survey was taken during. Meanwhile, you’d also like to tie a unique employee identifier to each response, regardless of the quarter the survey was taken in. In order to do this, you would generate a survey target for each quarter the survey will run. When sending out the quarter’s emails, you would use the mail merge to add the employee identifier to the end of the particular quarter’s link.

In Venue Management

Your venue has regular events, for which you send out a benchmarking survey. Each event can be differentiated by using a different survey target link, while each patron can be identified by a data overlay unique ID added during the mail merge.

Setup and Sending

The method for going about this will vary depending on the list management or CRM software that you use. Below you’ll find specific help articles from platforms detailing their version of the process.

  • Salesforce - Instructions for using Salesforce’s mail merge to generate unique links is found here
  • MailChimp - Instructions for using MailChimp’s mail merge to generate unique links is found here
  • Constant Contact - Instructions for using Constant Contact’s mail merge to generate unique links is found here

The workflow will usually follow steps similar to these:

  1. Decide on a unique ID field. There is usually a recipient user ID provided by most CRM’s, which can be used for this purpose. If your CRM does not include such a field, you will need to add one to the CRM records and populate it with unique ID’s.
  2. Edit the CRM mail template you’ll be using to send your survey invitations. Include the merge code at the end of the survey link. For example, MailChimp denotes variables with |VariableName|. If you were to use a variable called “UNIQID” within MailChimp, your mail merge link might look like:|UNIQID|.
  3. Test your mailings. Once sent, the |UNIQID| will be replaced at sending with the recipient’s unique MailChimp ID.

Multiple Fields

It is possible to use multiple overlay fields with your mail merge. For example, your mailing list may already include information such as gender, state, country, or other demographic information you’d like to use while analyzing your results.

The instructions above walked you through building a mail merge survey link looking something like this:

You are free to add more information onto the end of the link, separated with an ampersand (‘&‘). For example:

It is suggested that you limit the number of extra variables included to those pertinent to the survey results. See the help topic for Data Overlays for tips on obfuscating variable names, in order to avoid influencing responses.

Updating Your List

The data collected from a survey can also be used to re-import into your CRM or Mailing List. This can be used in order to import demographic question information back into your contact list. For example: gender, income, and country/state information could be collected through a Survature survey, and subsequently used to update your contact list.

The method for performing this update will vary depending on your mailing list or CRM software. Please see your software’s help for details on updating records.

The workflow will roughly be as follows:

  1. Export Survature results to Excel.
  2. Export CRM List to CSV.
  3. Sort both lists by the unique identifier.
  4. Copy fields of interest into the CRM’s CSV file.
  5. Update fields in the CRM to expect these new fields.
  6. Re-import the updated CSV into your CRM.