If your company has completed, is currently conducting, or plans on conducting some online survey research, it’s important to do everything you can to boost response rate to minimize cost and speed up the turnaround time.  Although Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) manages all types of online surveys methodologies in Central New York and beyond, these tips specifically relate to online surveys where an invitation would be sent to the respondent via email.  Use these to help you get the best possible response rate from your audience.

First you have to grab their attention.

1. Create an engaging subject line.  Many readers determine whether or not they are going to read/respond to the email without even opening it.  The subject line may be your one and only chance to get the respondent to participate, so it needs to spark interest.  The only time general subject lines such as ‘Click Here to Take our Survey’ or ‘We Need your Feedback’ are clicked is when they are moving it from their inbox to the their trash.  Depending on the survey – find a topic area or something that will strike a chord with your audience.  For example, in a recent healthcare study to business decision makers, RMS used the subject line “Let Your Voice Be Heard on Healthcare Reform.”  On specific surveys that offer a reward for completion, mentioning the incentive in the subject line can also increase the chance of the email being opened.

You have their attention, now you have to get them to take the survey.

2. Make the email text direct and as short as possible. Once you have grabbed their attention through the subject line and made the respondent actually open the email, you have little time to get them to click on the survey link.  The first sentence of the email text needs to mention what the survey is about, how long it will take, and what they will get for completing the survey (if applicable).  The survey link should be embedded before including any other text beyond the introductory sentence.  Once the hyperlink to take the survey is placed, the sender may include other detailed information about the survey or the company sponsoring or administering it, but these are all secondary items.  Keep in mind, the goal of tip 2 is to get them to click the link!  (But making the text informal and personalized will help.)

Your respondents still don’t want to take the survey?

3. Send reminder emails.  The beauty of doing an online survey is that reminders can be sent to respondents with little to no effort.  The format for the subject line and email text (tips 1 and 2) should remain similar for consistency purposes, but in an effort to add something fresh to the reminder you could try changing some key words or adding the verbiage ‘last chance’ or ‘final reminder.’  RMS believes changing something in the reminder is good – remember, there is a reason they didn’t choose to do your survey the first time.

Using these tips, perhaps the respondent has agreed to at least make an attempt to complete the survey. Keeping them engaged from this point on is a post for another day…

Keep in mind each of the survey tips are focused directly on the subject line and language used in your email invite.  These alone do not guarantee an excellent response rate for your survey.  Other more integral factors such as type of audience (past relationship with you versus no relationship), worth of the incentive or honorarium, survey subject area being tested and how up-to-date your email database is will all play a more significant role on response rate.