How Many Email Reminders Should I Send For My Online Survey?

Email surveys are the most common quantitative methodology used in market research nowadays. The reasons are plenty. First, they are a cost effective way to collect feedback from a sample pool. Second, they are timely. Email surveys can be conducted over the course of a day or a few days. Third, the representation of the larger population is strong.

The ability for surveys to be mobile-friendly has coincided with the growth of the smartphone in the past decade. With more people having access to iPhone and Android smartphones, it has opened up new windows and more opportunity to survey participants. In the industry, we see some excellent response rates in the evening from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. while respondents are likely multi-tasking on couch with their phone or tablet as they watch TV.

A decade or 2 ago, emails surveys were often viewed as a way to survey those younger generations. Not everyone had an email and therefore it was nearly impossible to survey the older generations through email and obtain a representative sample. This is why phone surveys remained a popular way of collecting feedback or a necessary component through a mixed-mode study. This has largely changed recently with a much broader population having email addresses.

But sending one email invitation is often not enough. In this post we discuss more about the topic of sending out additional reminders for email surveys.

How Many Email Reminders Should I Send For My Online Survey?

Reminder emails for surveys are almost always required. But the return is not always great.

Reminders Will Boost Response Rates

Fact is fact, email reminders assist with sample sizes. If your list is large enough, sometimes you can obtain enough sample through a single invite to make your pool statistically reliable. Other companies are not so lucky.

In those situations, reminder emails are sent to help boost base sample sizes or specific demographics. With a reminder email, you are likely to get another boost of responses, but it will never equal the number of responses you obtain from the initial invitation. No email invitation will get more of a response than your initial invite. It's the law of diminishing returns.

Our market research company also works with our clients to send a pre-survey email out to clients or customers. This pre-survey email explains the importance of the survey and a response and introduces Drive Research as the expert in the space. It details when to expect the survey invite.

These tactics help, but email reminders are still an uphill battle. Each new email reminder sent returns less conversions. It continually drops off for each new wave of reminders. In some cases, we even recommend using phone call reminders to assist with responses.

The law of diminishing returns is best explained through the Jaws movie series. As a movie buff you are likely familiar with the downhill slide of the 4 movies. Just when you think the next movie can't get any worse...

Good, worse, even worse, just awful.

For both Jaws and email reminders.

Change the Language

If you are planning on sending multiple reminders to your email list, at least make an effort to change the language. Rather than just using the same reminder text and subject line with the addition of "reminder" change it up a bit.

Particularly the subject line. If they have ignored it once, twice, or three times already, make a significant change. Have a little fun with the subject line. You have nothing to lose. It's a bit like impaling a shark with the broken bow of a boat to watch it explode in Jaws IV. Hey, you have nothing to lose when you see diminishing returns.


Send at least 1 and then a final reminder if response rates are still low. When it comes to surveys, your immediate responses are likely to be those who fall into the extremes. Sending a reminder helps weed out those in-between to make your results more comprehensive and representative.


Contact Us

Drive Research is a market research company in Upstate New York. Our team works with clients and businesses across the country to assist with their market research needs. Questions about an upcoming project?

Email us at [email protected], call us at 315-303-2040, or message us on our site.

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Online Surveys