How To Do A Non-Buyer Survey


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There I was, staring at my screen on a Friday night and about to tear my hair out. Why didn’t they buy? What step did I miss? Should I give up? I had launched a program to my then-tiny email list, followed up with dozens of contacts individually, and still seen less-than-stellar results.

Was my offer wrong? Was the audience for my offer wrong? Was the way I wrote about my offer wrong? The truth turned out to be none of these. Reader feedback made me discover that, by launching two different offers three weeks apart from one another, I had created confusion. The main reason people didn’t buy my program is that they thought it was the same offer as a mini-course I had pitched three weeks earlier.


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It was a weight lifted off my shoulders. Whew! Easy fix. Just change my timing and give it another go in a few months to my new subscribers. 


I never would have known any of this — and would have remained in my head for weeks or months to come — had I not sent out a non-buyer survey. And in fact, the feedback from a non-buyer survey will give you clarity and direction on what to do next in your business or freelancing efforts. Resist the urge to wallow in indecision; get the feedback, dust yourself off, and move on.

What Exactly Is A Non-Buyer Survey?

A non-buyer survey is a 3-5 question survey that is sent to the segment of your list or audience who knew about or looked at your offer, but didn’t buy. It’s short and takes just a few minutes to complete. The survey is sent immediately after your sales cycle closes — within 48 hours of cart close is best — to capture feedback while the offer is still fresh in your reader’s mind. Here’s what my entire non-buyer survey looks like, front-to-back, and I use the same one every time.


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We glorify the email list. Hell, I glorify the email list. From a sales perspective, though, selling to an email list is a long game. Did you know that when selling to an email list, the industry standard for your conversion rate is 0.5-1%? That’s right: If you take all the right steps, attract and build a list of 1,000 subscribers, then sell something to them, having 5 subscribers sign up to buy would be considered a success.


The numbers can be discouraging. That’s why I’ve written before that if you want quick cash, you should do personalized outreach and then pitch a proposal instead. Monetizing an email list takes time. But what many writers and entrepreneurs gloss over about a list is that email subscribers are willing to give you real-time feedback — leverage that excitement.

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Core Questions of a Non-Buyer Survey

Since I pummel my email list during a sales period, I make the survey email really short. Here’s my exact script:


SUBJECT: Can I get your feedback, <NAME>?


Hi <NAME> –


We just finished up promoting <YOUR OFFER> — and I noticed you didn’t sign up.


Would you consider filling out this five-question survey? I want to ensure I am improving my communication with you moving forward and your feedback will really help.






It’s clear, it’s to the point, and it actually gets a pretty good response rate when I send it soon after the end of the sales promotion. My survey then consists of the following questions:

#1: “Were you considering joining, or not considering it at all?”

Right out of the gate, this question will help you figure out if your offer was congruent to the subscribers on your list. If people join your list for daily horoscopes, but then you try to hit them with a workshop about stocks and bonds, this question will clearly expose the dissonance in your offer. In my underperforming launch, I did discern that those who observed the launch and didn’t buy were at least thinking about the offer.


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There are many survey options out there; I choose Google Forms because you can get some graph and chart visualizations of your results and you get unlimited responses for free.

#2: “Which of the following factors played a role in your decision?”

I let my survey responders check as many of these boxes as they want, and I also like to offer an “Other” category. Here are the options I recommend you have at a minimum:


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You’re welcome to add more options if your audience traditionally has industry-specific reservations, but don’t overdo it. You want the subscriber taking the survey to generate the reasons themselves to set up the next question.

#3: “In your own words, why didn’t you buy? Please be specific as possible.”

This is by far the most valuable question of the survey. It is the question in which respondents will give you the exact reasons they did not hand over their money to you and what you need to fix in your offer to make it better convert. I love this question!


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Even though feedback stings, I pinky-swear that when you read the responses to this question, you will feel a sigh of relief. It’s because you’ll now have direction and insight from a very valuable audience: subscribers who probably don’t know you personally, but are really interested in your work.

#4: “If you were interested, but didn’t buy, what will you do instead?”

This question is also very strategic. You can use the responses to this question to potentially learn about competitors or other solutions that are in your market. What I also love about this question is that it forces the non-buyer to think about their problem and how it’s still not solved. This twists the knife a bit and can potentially set you up for sales in the future


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#5: “May we contact you for research purposes down the line? If so, please provide your email address”

This question is optional, but I prefer to ask it. If you make contact information optional, you’ll probably get more total responses since your survey takers can remain anonymous, but you also may get more trolling responses. 


These survey takers, especially ones who give detailed or interesting feedback, are perfect candidates for you to do informational interviews and research with at a later date. It’s a great customer service play because you’ll give them some personalized attention, and you’ll get awesome customer insights that can help you make your next move. It’s all about momentum!




Never let yourself stay in the dark as a freelancer or an entrepreneur. Ask for more feedback than you think you should, figure out what works and what doesn’t, and keep your momentum up. When you have feedback loops in your business efforts, you’ll always know what action step to take next.

Thanks for reading. 🙏🏼


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Nick Wolny is a media and marketing strategist for entrepreneurs. Named a “40 Under 40” by the Houston Business Journal, he’s a contributor for Entrepreneur and Fast Company and a technology commentator for NBC and FOX with over 60 live TV appearances.