With advances in technology, the primary methods for getting electronic survey responses are email, websites, Intranets and scocial media. Paper surveys are becoming increasingly rare. They do have a place in some circumstances, however paper surveys are costly to distribute, difficult to follow up and even more costly to process.
Email invitations and follow up reminders
Email is a primary way to send survey invitations and to follow up outstanding responses. Engaging survey invitations are essential in order to make people want to help you. And targeted, friendly follow up reminder emails are essential to maximise the survey response rate.
Inbox management, and keeping your survey invitation at the top of inboxes (within reason), is a key objective.
A proportion of people will respond quickly and complete the survey shortly after receiving the initial invitation. However, there is always a group of people who will require follow up for various reasons. E.g. The timing might not be suitable when the first invitation is received, they may have other priotities, they may put off the survey until later, they may miss the invitation, or they may not want to complete it at all.
Who is your email going to come from?
Ever received email from someone whose name is “Do not reply”? Does it make you want to pay attention to the email? No, exactly.
Make the ‘From’ name easily recognisable. People like communications, not ‘blasts’.
Subject lines are important
Like the ‘From’ field, the subject line is your first chance to entice someone. Keep subject lines short, and test it on a mobile device.
Spam filters will catch words like important message, offer, and free. They are also more likely to catch subject lines with the recipient’s name in it.
Also avoid dollar signs, exclamation points, and all-capitals.
There are a number of free tools online like SubjectLine that will help you to test your subject for best results.
Personalise the email
When you have the opportunity to personalise an email, do it! Personalise information (like names) in the body of your email. This kind of personalisation can have a big impact on your response rates.
This is not such an unusual thing. People don’t like being sent generic things; they like to feel like they are contributing, and that the communication is in some way meaningful.
Here are some tips for creating great email copy
- Thank people in advance, and assure the confidentiality or anonymity of their responses
- Tell them why you’re doing the survey
- Tell them why participating is beneficial for them
- Tell them how long the survey will take (and be accurate – run it yourself in some tests to find out)
- Include a deadline, so there is a sense of urgency
- Let recipients know that they’re part of a select group who have been invited to participate
The idea is to make the entire exercise as unsurprising as possible. When people know what’s going to happen, they feel safe and comfortable, and that makes your survey feel easy to complete.
Know that the invitation isn’t the only email you will need to send
Your email invitation is just one in a series of communications that you will need to design. You will need to send several reminders to people who haven’t completed it. You should be conscious of email management – your survey participant’s email!
This will maximise the number of responses you receive. Like your emails, personalise the responses. Be friendly. Recognise that people have busy lives and demonstrate empathy. Be really clear, and immediately action any opt-out requests that you receive.
Where practical or relevant it’s good practice to offer the survey results to those who took it (remember to include an email address inside the survey!). To do this well, make sure you reference the survey or subject, and remind the recipient that they are getting the offer because they took part.
Right now, this might seem silly. But you know yourself that we all get a lot of emails. With everything else going on in life, they might not remember filling out your survey by the time you have the results.
Don’t be a spammer
Make sure that the people who get your emails are aware of your survey or have agreed to receive emails or offers from you. Unexpected email communications are far more likely to result in spam reports, or deletion.
Post on websites, Intranets and social media
Websites and Social Media programs enable communities to engage online. For some surveys, depending upon the goals and objectives, websites and social media can provide important forums to conduct surveys and get feedback.
When it comes to posting on websites, Intranets and social media we need to differentiate between private (or predominantly private) and public networks.
Intranets are private in that they are confined to an organization's employees. Some websites are very likely to only be visited by people with a close interest in that organization, a school for example. A private social media network is different open to the public networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google +. In a private network individuals must be invited to participate. This also typically means that all conversations that take place on the network are private to network members.
Public networks are open and it is difficult to control who sees the survey and responds to it. However, it is increasingly possible (with demographic information available on social media) to manage where and to whom the survey displays.
Contact Spark Chart if you need help to make sure your survey project is a success. Or sign up for the Spark Chart survey software to make the process easy. Here is a summary of Spark Chart survey software features.