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3 guidelines for survey invitations to increase response rates

You’ve invited 500 respondents by email to your survey. So far, only 17 people have opened your survey – and…

You’ve invited 500 respondents by email to your survey. So far, only 17 people have opened your survey – and only 12 people have completed your survey, not even a measly 3% of your target group. You keep hitting ‘Refresh’ on your browser, hoping to collect more data from respondents – but as the days pass, you lose all hope. Does this sound familiar to you?

What you’re experiencing is a question all survey managers struggle with – “How do I get people to open my survey invitations?” In today’s day and age, users are overwhelmed with surveys, from their local coffee shop to workplace reviews. This means respondents are experiencing survey fatigue – before they’ve even opened your survey!

Let’s be honest, nobody wants to open unsolicited emails. Your respondents value their time – and you value their opinion. As the creator of a survey, you’re asking respondents for a transaction, where the burden of the cost lies with them, often with little apparent reward.

Understanding this dynamic is critical when trying to convince users to answer your survey. So how do you break through? How do you get respondents to click on an email they might not have opened otherwise, and how do you convince them to open your survey? Keep reading.

1. Personalize

The importance of sender and subject line are often overlooked when writing survey invitations, with deadly consequences. According to a recent study, 33% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based on subject line alone. This means getting this one line of text right is absolutely essential for getting your foot in the door.

According to Adestra July 2012 Report, open-rate of email increases by over 22% with personalized subject lines and over 90% of marketers say they don’t spend enough time on subject lines. This is good news! It means that a personal, interesting subject line will outcompete most other emails your respondents are receiving.

Did you know?

Phrase your subject as a question. For example, instead of Answer our Customer Satisfaction Survey, try: Leonora, have you ever felt let down by Pure Digital? You can easily merge in the name of your respondent and company with Enalyzer’s merge field function.

It is also important to think of the sender name and the sender email. Over 43% of email recipients will mark messages as spam based on the ‘from’ address and sender name.

2. Inform

You need to tell your respondents what your survey is all about. I mean, it’s just good manners. Respondents are far more likely to answer if they know beforehand, what they are getting themselves into. So we’ve made a little checklist of information that is shown to increase response rates:

  • What is the purpose of the research
  • How will their feedback be used
  • Any privacy protections and anonymity settings
  • Length of the survey (in minutes and number of questions)
  • A contact person

Did you know?

CSS-heavy emails often get labeled as “Promotion” in tabbed inboxes like Gmail. Sending a plain text survey invitation may increase your response rates by over 200% to users using Gmail according to one study.

3. Motivate

This boils down to our last guideline: motivate your respondents. Because even after they’ve been greeted personally and informed about why you need their responses, they still don’t know why they should care. This is why you must motivate them.

  • Invoke reciprocity (Be nice and give them gifts)
  • Use incentives (Bribe them with rewards)
  • Publish your results (Make them curious)
  • Follow up with Reminders (The Stop Bothering Me Strategy)

Did you know?

Timing is key. 2-5pm is when most emails are opened and 10pm-9am is the worst time to send emails.

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