How to Maximize Survey Response Rates – Composing an Effective Email



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Below are the steps you should follow when creating a survey email invitation.

HINT: Do everything you can to make the survey email invitation look as if it is coming from a real person.


1) NEVER use html.
2) ALWAYS have the email invitation appear to come from someone respondents recognize at your organization. Don’t use your generic marketing email template or account.
3) Use the sender’s actual email signature block. Again, you need to make this appear to come from someone real.
4) Keep the email SHORT. The FIRST sentence should explain that you are conducting a survey and need the individual to respond.
5) Always personalize the email greeting, such as “Hi Joe”…don’t say “Dear Joe” if that is not how the person from whom the email is coming would normally start an email. NEVER say “Dear Member”…as that is too generic.
6) The only link that should be in the email is the link to the survey, and, of course, the opt-out link at the VERY bottom of the email.
7) Send no more than two follow-up reminders that are targeted ONLY to those who haven’t completed the survey.
8) Keep the survey in the field for about 7 business days and stagger the reminder emails about two or three days apart. PUT THE DEADLINE IN THE LAST EMAIL INVITE ONLY.
9) Most importantly, make sure to include the following in your subject line: “Please Respond” or “Participation Requested” along with the title of your survey. You need this call to action.

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About the Author

Joe Bates

Joe has nearly 25 years of experience in the research industry and is an expert in qualitative and quantitative research design, implementation, analysis and consulting. He has worked in a variety of industries including healthcare, political polling and nonprofit. Joe has spent 20 years in the nonprofit sector. His experience includes serving as vice president of research and strategic initiatives for the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), where he created a research program that generated $1.4 million in revenue, and as director of research for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) where he oversaw the $2 million research program. Joe has also worked with a variety of nonprofit and association clients including Sallie Mae, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), the Internet Society (ISOC) and the American Society of Ophthalmic Administrators (ASOA). Joe is a seasoned presenter and enjoys communicating research trends and statistical data to staff, members and industry professionals in a humorous and easily understandable style. He has presented research in dozens of cities around the world. Joe has been a guest lecturer at various universities including The College of William and Mary, the University of Virginia, Georgetown University, the University of Texas, George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College. In addition, he has presented at various industry conferences such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the Marketing Research Association (MRA) and the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). Joe has been interviewed or quoted by hundreds of media outlets around the world including the NBC Nightly News, WUSA-9 (CBS affiliate), National Public Radio (NPR), CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, BBC, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Forbes and Investor’s Business Daily.


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