1. Target your audience.
Consider a variety of sources
for possible respondents. In addition to email mailing lists, for example,
consider posting your survey to newsgroups and web communities.
2. Personalize your email invitations
Emails with a
personal salutation result in increased response rates of at least five percent,
and sometimes much higher. Send your email to "Dear Mr. Wright" rather than
"Dear Valued Alumni."
3. Keep your email invitation short
Please keep your
email invitation short and simple, with just one link - the one to the survey.
Please be sure to explain the following:
a. Who you are and the purpose
of your study
b. The survey's benefit to the individual as well as to your
c. Length of survey - if it is short, emphasize that. But be truthful
about times - people are more likely to stick with longer surveys if they know
about how much time they will take.
d. Privacy statement, if required by
4. Make your first survey page simple - let people take the
Once people have decided to take your survey, they will want to
get started. Studies show most people don't read extensive instructions.
5. Be clear about privacy protections
The first page
of the survey is the place to include information about how you will be using
people's responses. People are more comfortable sharing information on the
Internet if they know how it will be used. Are they anonymous? Confidential?
Shared with others? A university human subjects statement, if needed, would go
6. Send reminder emails
Some people will take your survey
right away. You will get increased responses, however, if you send follow-up
email reminders with the survey link included. It is best not to send more than
two reminder emails. Be sure to filter out email addresses of people who do not
wish to be contacted again.
7. Consider offering incentives - gifts, prizes,
Studies show that incentives need not be large to increase response
rates. A small token, gift certificate, etc., can increase responses
8. Some people just want to share their opinion!
number of people will complete a survey to share their information rather than
to receive an incentive. Consider making your incentive optional - you must
choose to be included in a raffle or donating to a relevant cause for example.
9. Use graphics and Internet features strategically.
Surveys generally don't need fancy graphics, and sometimes graphics can
distract from the content of the survey, or influence answers. But there are a
few ways to use graphics to improve your survey responses. These include
providing an image and web link for a prize or incentive, using a multimedia
embedded content survey.
10. Publish your results online to survey
People who respond will want to see results, and getting
these results will encourage them to complete the survey.
And a bonus?
Use friends, family and colleagues
targeting Use your respondents to share your survey to interested. Offer
respondents an opportunity to send the survey to others, and if their friends
and family take the survey, the original respondent has a better chance of
winning/earning a gift incentive. This can be easily achieved by collecting
email addresses as part of the survey.