10 Tips to Build a Better Email Survey Invitation

You can write the best survey in the world, but if your initial email invitation doesn't get opened, it was seemingly for nothing.

For this reason, emailing survey invitations has become a marketing and persuasion tactic to help increase response rates.

Your analysis and insights can only be as good as the sample size that backs your findings.

So if you bore, confuse, or discourage potential respondents in any way from clicking the survey link and taking your survey, you're setting yourself up for poor outcomes.

When designing your next email invite for your online survey consider the following 10 tips below.

10 Tips to Build a  Better Email  Survey Invitation

Tip 1: Use an attention-grabbing subject line.

Today, people are more interconnected than ever before and the use of email is expected to continue to grow! 

In 2019, global email users amounted to 3.9 billion which is set to grow to 4.3 billion users in 2023

Additionally, in 2019, 293.6 billion emails were sent and received each day. By 2022, this figure is expected to increase to over 347.3 billion daily emails.

With that being said, it's easy for your email survey invitation to get lost in a respondent's inbox. To alleviate this challenge, researchers must use a catchy subject line that prompts the respondent to want to read more.

Subject lines can make or break the chances of a respondent opening up your email. It has been found that 47% of recipients open an email based on the subject line alone

The idea here is to grab their attention and then get them to open the email.

Our market research company recommends using these tips to create a better subject line for email survey invitations:

Lastly, one of the worst things that can happen is to have your survey invitation end up in the “spam folder” of your recipients.

To combat this, avoid adding symbols such as ($$$, ###, &&&) or an all CAPS subject line which can trigger the email from spam filters.

Tip 2: Place the survey link near the top of the body text.

I see this mistake far too often in email invitations. After getting them to open your email, the next goal is to get them to click the survey link. End of story.

Don't invite them to read a paragraph or two and change their mind.

Studies show that the average person only spends 13 seconds reading an email, so it is crucial to keep survey email invitations simple and avoid using technical or industry-specific language. 

In composing the email, make sure to avoid long blocks of text and use shorter sentences in the email.

Keeping the email short, bold, and to the point allows respondents to understand what they are expected to complete.

If they want to read more about the survey process you can provide that text below the link.

Treat this like a "terms and conditions page", most people will skim and accept, very few will actually read all of the email copy.

Tip 3: Thank them for participating before they have a chance to say "no".

It's a little play on psychology, but get thank them before they've even agreed to participate.

This is why some of the best call center reps in market research data centers don't hesitate during the introduction of the survey.

Any little hesitation gives the respondent an out and a chance to say they're not interested.

If for nothing else, saying thank you in advance shows you value the recipient's time, feedback, and effort to complete the survey.

There are several market research tips and tricks that are based on psychology. Drive Research discusses this ideology in our blog post, 5 Best Market Research Practices Borrowed from Psychology.

Tip 4: Explain how responses will benefit respondents directly.

A simple line of text that says, "Your response is important to us" is not specific enough.

In the culture of WIIFM (what's in it for me?) you must provide some detail and relevance here.

For example, "Your survey response will directly impact how we create processes and checklists for our customer service staff to ensure you can be 100% satisfied with your next service call."

Tip 5: Explain how respondents were selected.

Before sending the email survey invitation ask yourself...

  • Is it a limited survey invitation to a few key stakeholders?
  • Is it a survey sent to all customers from your database?
  • Is it a survey sent to a random selection of customers from your database?

A quick description of this helps put the respondent at ease to ensure they are not being singled out for any reason unless you want that to be known.

Tip 6: Reference how long the survey will take, be honest.

Our online survey company recommends sharing the number of questions in the survey or the time it will take respondents to complete.

If you do mention completion times, remember these can vary so it is okay to offer a range.

When writing email survey invitations our market research company typically uses timeframes such as:

  • Less than 3 minutes
  • 3 to 5 minutes
  • 5 to 7 minutes
  • 7 to 10 minutes
  • 10 to 15 minutes

If your online survey tests longer than 10 to 15 minutes you may need to sit down with your internal team to find out ways to reduce the scope or streamline the questioning.

Recommended Reading: How Many Questions Should I Ask in My Survey?

Tip 7: Mention the raffle, sweepstakes, or reward if there is one.

An incentive is money or possibly a gift provided to participants in exchange for completing a survey.

Incentives commonly come in 2 main forms:

  1. Monetary. Monetary incentives involve money or a discount on products/services.
  2. Non-monetary. Non-monetary incentives can be a donation or a free gift.

This is for the fence-sitters. In aggregate, rewards have a large impact on market research because of the incrementally added interest in the study.

However, for each individual decision on a granular person-to-person basis, the incentive may not have a major impact.

There will be some fence-sitters in which a simple giveaway is enough to tip the scales.

Make sure this is referenced somewhere in your invite but not the subject line! Any mention of sweepstakes, giveaway, or $ signs will scream spam.

Learn more about why you should offer a reward for participating in market research.

Tip 8: Be clear on confidentiality and data privacy.

Respondents want to know their information will be kept private.

With a number of businesses using surveys as case management tools, the wording has changed from anonymous and reported in aggregate to confidential and private.

See the difference? The latter allows the analyst to single out a case and conduct a follow-up call for case resolution if need be.

With that being said, it’s better to avoid wordy details about confidentiality. For best results, add a hyperlink to redirect those to a respondent privacy page where they can learn more.

Here is an example of the participant privacy policy by Drive Research.

Tip 9: Include an unsubscribe link.

No-brainer. You have to include this. Simply an item to check off your email invitation checklist.

If you haven't created this checklist, now's a great time!

Tip 10: Include a relevant contact and signature.

It helps to include a c-level executive or someone higher up on the proverbial organizational totem pole as the person sponsoring the research and managing the project.

This ensures the data will be visible with the right people who can make a difference, eluding to tip 4 above.

Final Thoughts

While survey invitation emails can seem to be challenging to write, these tips will help increase the response rate of participants.

Adjusting the timing might also help as studies show certain times and days of the week are better to send surveys than others. Drive Research discusses this data in our blog post, When Is the Best Time of Year to Send a Survey?

Overall, by sending out a great survey invitation email, any client can benefit from gaining knowledge about their target audience. 

Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in November of 2016, but has recently been updated for readability.

For Maximum Response Rates, Conduct an Online Survey with Drive Research

Drive Research is a national online survey company in Upstate New York. With 30+ years of experience, our team of senior market research professionals know the best tips and tricks to create a survey that generates maximum results. 

View all of our market research services or contact Drive Research to learn more.

  1. Message us on our website
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Author Bio George Kuhn

George Kuhn

George is the Owner & President of Drive Research. He has consulted for hundreds of regional, national, and global organizations over the past 15 years. He is a CX certified VoC professional with a focus on innovation and new product management.

Learn more about George, here.

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