The Simple Free Trick That Increased Email Opt-Ins by 22%

The Simple Free Trick That Increased Email Opt-Ins by 22%

Last year I wanted to build a “decision engine” – a customizable WordPress plugin that would allow users to answer a few quick questions and arrive at relevant recommendations.

Those recommendations could be your own product or service offerings, or affiliate offers.

I even went so far as to have the project quoted out by a professional plug-in developer. The estimated cost was over $5000.

And I’m so glad I didn’t do it. Here’s why:

I discovered that Google Docs could do 90% of what I wanted for the low low price of FREE. The answer was their free Forms tool, which allows you to make custom surveys and embed them into your website.

The only downside was I couldn’t figure out how to redirect visitors to a customized results page based on their survey answers, so I just added an email input at the end and promised I would email them their results.

Almost as an afterthought, I added a final question that asked respondents if they’d like to subscribe to the email newsletter (and offered the free ebook that all subscribers get).

Initially I was hesitant about this bottleneck in the process, but the results speak for themselves. In six months since embedding the Google Docs survey, respondents make up 22% of new list subscribers.

These are incremental subscribers I might not otherwise have been able to capture.  And beyond the new avenue for opt-ins, the survey has also provided a number of other unexpected positives.

Unexpected Bonuses:

  • Providing a genuinely helpful service visitors love
  • Incremental customer engagement – a chance to start a conversation
  • Incremental affiliate sales

Of course, it did take some time to craft the survey questions and build out the response templates.

But now that the response templates are written, I can send out recommendations that look and feel like personalized emails (because they are!), and spend less than 10 minutes a week doing it.

Here’s how to get started with a survey tool of your own

The first step is to outline in Word or on paper the 3-5 questions your survey will have. They need to closed-ended so they’re quick to answer, but detailed enough to give you the insight necessary to make valid recommendations.

For example, I ask users on my Virtual Assistant site where they prefer their potential new VA to be located. This allows me to skip a possible follow-up question regarding budget or pricing because in general, everyone knows a North American VA will cost more than someone in India or the Philippines.

I would also avoid open-ended questions like “describe your perfect t-shirt” (maybe you’re running a clothing company). This can be stressful for respondents and hurt your completion rate. Many visitors will still be in the research stage of their buying process and may not yet have a clear vision of what their perfect t-shirt (or whatever) is like.

The basic idea is to gather enough information to start a meaningful dialogue, but not too much that visitors have to recount their entire life story to finish the survey.

Building the Survey

Once you’ve got your outline set up, you’re ready to build your survey.

First, go to Google Docs (now called Google Drive). On the left hand side, choose Create, and then Forms from the dropdown menu that appears.


That should take you to a new blank form, where you can start creating your questions. The initial screen will look something like this:


From there, you can enter in the questions you have from your outline. Multiple choice questions and checkbox questions work best.

At the end, you’ll want to make sure to add a text-entry question for people to enter their email address. Ask, “Where can I send the recommendations?” and check the box to make it a required question.

And here’s where you can get fancy with your newsletter sign-ups as well.

Add a multiple choice question that asks if people would like to join your mailing list and receive a free bonus (ebook, or whatever else you use to incent sign-ups). It will looks like this:


Google Forms allows you to add page breaks and to customize the “theme” of your survey as well.

When you have a survey you’re happy with hit Save and it will be saved to your Google Drive account.

Getting Notified

The problem is you won’t have any way of knowing when someone completes your survey. A simple free add-on solves that problem.

It’s called FormEmailer.

Here’s how to set it up.

From your main Google Drive page, select your survey.


That will open up a spreadsheet of your (empty) survey results.

From there, go to Tools > Script Gallery.

In the search box, enter “FormEmailer”


Install the one by, and follow the prompts.

Once the installation is complete, go back to Sheet1 of the Spreadsheet, which should still show your empty results. Click Tools > Script Editor.

Then choose Resources > Current Script’s Triggers.

Then you want to add a Time-Driven trigger onFormSubmit. It will look like this:


Hit Save.

Testing Your Survey

From the spreadsheet view, select Form > Embed Form on a Webpage.

Copy the script that pops up into a page of your choice. You may need to edit the height and width to make it look right.

Find that page and test your survey. If all goes well, you should have a response notification in your inbox!

Use this lean marketing strategy to promote increased engagement on your site and generate more leads.

I also put together a short video which walks you through all these steps:

About Nick Loper

Nick Loper is an online entrepreneur, aspiring author, and lifelong student in the game of business. His latest project is a directory and review database for virtual assistant companies.

  • Slava

    Amazing tip Nick, thank you so much for sharing. I am building my email list. Feel free to join it on my website. I will use your trick ;)

  • Justin Garza

    Great tips, always great to survey the readers and take into consideration what they would like. Thanks for the ideas.

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  • Brad Russell

    Great article Nick. I’ve just set up a test form on our website Kitchenware Direct. The possibilities for us are endless – what customers want from our promotions, product recommendations, a general survey about our site etc etc. Thanks!

    • Nick Loper

      That’s great! Let me know how it goes!

      • Brad Russell

        My only suggestion with your post is that when I was setting it up, I had to edit the FormEmailer settings so that it triggers the emails. I don’t think that was clear enough (IMO) – I had to go to notifications under the trigger settings. Anyway, fantastic post – I’ve managed to set up a test form at and all is well!

        • Nick Loper

          You’re right, it’s definitely a little tricky. Had trouble remembering how I’d set it up myself when I was re-creating the steps!

          Tried to a better job in the video version :)

          Hey great looking cookware site! When I tried to check out the survey I was locked out and it gave me an option to request access. “you don’t have permission to access this item.”

          • Brad Russell

            Ah yes it was locked to internal view only, should work now. Nothing too exciting anyway, just proves that it’s very easy to use – and use it we will :)

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  • Mike Patch

    You are a lifesaver Nick!
    My 2013 goal is to enhance a complex wordpress site to feature many tools just like this. I also needto figure a away to embed sortable tables that a reader can enter specific data, kinda like Excel macro, I’m hoping Drive can get me there. For all the things Google does that pisses me off, Goole drive is hands down the most useful tool I have used in the past year.


    • Nick Loper

      Thanks Mike! If you figure out that macro-style project, definitely let me know… I can already think of one site where that would be super-useful! Basically going back to that decision engine idea — taking customer inputs and making reliable recommendations across complex data sets.

      • Mike Patch

        Will do Nick. Thanks again.

        By the way, went to read your reply on my IPhone this morning and noticed your blog is struggling its width proportions. The home page seems fine but the articles are cutting off half the post. I may have a few tips for you if you need them.

        • Nick Loper

          Thanks — yes we’re working on making the design a bit more “responsive” this year, especially with the continued growth in mobile traffic!

  • Stephanie

    Hey there Nick! This is great!

    Do you know if there is a way to use logic with google docs? For example if answer is A send them to Q2, If answer is B Send them to Q4, etc.


    • Nick Loper

      Yes! They do have a “skip-logic” feature. I’ve found it works best along with the page breaks so it will skip ahead to the Q4 like in your example, and Q3 will never be seen by that user. I imagine you could design some pretty intricate question-mapping to guide users down certain paths.

      Powerful stuff!

      • Stephanie


        This is going to be so useful for one of our clients! I’ll make sure to send you a link to it once it is finished!

  • Matthew Hunt

    Great tip!

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  • Lillian Leon

    Wow, what an awesome tip! Thanks Nick. Will be sharing this post and trying out your idea on my blog… Cheers!

  • lian

    Nice tips! I’m looking for mailing list service , I hope I can find a new one.

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