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Effective Survey Invitation Tips

Effective Survey Invitation Tips using Email

Survey Invitations Which Increase Response Rates

A compelling survey invitation will increase the number of recipients who read your email and in turn increase the number who click on the survey link to complete it. Below are some tips to improving te survey participation rate when you use email to invite your audience. These basic tips will significantly improve the effectiveness of using email to invite folks to take your survey.

Focus and Relevance

The folks you are targeting with your email solicitations should have at least some potential interest in the survey's topic. If you send an email message indiscriminately to a large number of recipients, then by definition you are sending spam. Nobody likes spam. Such activity will have unintended consequences which include inaccurate and unreliable survey data collected.

For the best survey outcome, meaning quality response data has been collected, your email audience should be directed towards a focused group. Additionally, such focused group will be more inclined to respond to your future surveys.

The better you know your respondents, the more likely you will have a higher response rate. Consider choosing a smaller sample to survey first. Building a relationship with your respondents may make them more likely to respond to future survey invitations.


You want to be sure the email you sent to your participants actually reaches their inbox, and not their email program's spam folder or spam filter. To do so, you will want to avoid the common traits of spam. Refrain from using words and phrases that are commonly used in spam email messages, like "FREE", "Act Now", "Please respond", and "URGENT", to name a few.  Also avoid using all UPPERCASE text. Not only is it a common practice of spammers, it is more difficult to read the text. One last tip is to be sure to spell check your email document. Naturally, an email message looks more professional when it is typo free, but also improves the likeliness the email message will not be flagged as spam.

If possible, personalize the email message by including their name. Use a real, actively monitored, "reply-to" email address. You should provide a way for anyone to opt-out and clean all lists to remove opted-out email addresses.

Email Subject Line

An effective email starts with one that is read. Typically the first thing that is read is the email's subject line. It is important to make a good first impression. An effective subject line will briefly describe the survey and the organization conducting the survey. The organization name is important as users are less likely to think the email is spam. For example, "Child Car Seat Safety Survey Invite by Acme Corp." A subject line be free of words and phrases that trigger spam filters such as "important message" and "free". Also avoid using all caps, exclamation points, or dollar signs in the email subject line.

State a Purpose

In the email message body, you should briefly state the purpose of the survey. Be sure to communicate to invitation recipients how the survey will benefit them. For example, will you use the data you are collecting to improve your service to them?

Folks are more likely to take action if they are given a "reason why". This is also helpful in improving the survey response rate when the "reason why" statement is included within the survey's introduction as well.

Attractive Format

Create attractive messages by using your email program's formatting toolbar to format the text. Email programs such as Microsoft Outlook permit recipients to preview the email before opening it. Attractive format emails are more likely to be read.


If you are offering an incentive to take a survey, be sure to clearly indicate such in the body of the email message. Providing an incentive is a great way to motivate folks to complete a survey response and improve your survey's response rate. Be sure to provide all necessary information about the incentive if you are offering one.

Contact Information

The people you solicit for a survey response should be able to contact you. They may have a question prior to taking the survey or during the survey. By having a reachable contact, they will feel more comfortable with your survey invitation request.

At a minimum you should send the email invitation that contain a real "reply to" email address as in one that is read by you or another human. A contact name and phone number also raise the comfort level for your email recipients as it promotes a message that assures confidentiality of responses.

Advance Notice

It is advisable that you provide your survey participants with sufficient advance notice. Alert them about the upcoming survey and the reason it is being conducted. Give your respondents the option to opt out of the survey before creating your recipient list.


If your audience is mostly working professionals, then you may want to avoid sending surveys on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. In addition, Mondays are good to avoid as many people have work to get started for the week and emails to catch up or clean out their email program's inbox.

Students tend to have a different usage pattern for emails. Try scheduling a message Monday afternoon, with reminders to non-responders on Thursday morning and again on Saturday afternoon. Also, consider student holidays and activities like football games and schedule around those events.


Some people will then go to complete your survey immediately after reading your email, but not everybody. You will receive more responses when you send a follow-up email reminder with the survey link included. In general, 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 and if feasible, those who already completed a survey response.

We hope these practical tips are useful and further ensure your invited participants actually read your email invitation and respond to your survey.

Last updated: 2012 March 03