Tips for Writing Effective Email Invitations to Your Surveys

October 16, 2015 by Dr. Jian Huang

Creating an engaging survey is only one aspect to running a successful feedback campaign. You also need to figure out how to make your audience aware of your survey and encourage them to take it.

Using email is an effective and efficient means of inviting your target audience to take your survey. The email’s format, wording and degree of personalization all play an important role in increasing the open rates of your invitation and converting recipients into survey takers. Here are few things that you should keep in mind in order to get better survey response rates when using email invitations.

Pay Attention to the ‘Subject Line’ and ‘From Field’

The subject line and how the name appears in the ‘from’ field are the first things email recipients see and can make all the difference in whether someone opens your message. Subjects lines should be kept succinct and feature a compelling message that your audience will respond to. The name used in the ‘from’ field should be recognizable to your audience. If they don’t recognize you personally but are familiar with your organization then use that.

Personalization Can Make All the Difference

Whenever possible, include personal information such as the recipient’s name. People will likely ignore your email if they don't see their name or worse their name is incorrect. Many email tools have features that allow you to dynamically add personal information into the to line, subject and body of your email. Doing so adds a degree of personalization and can improve the conversion rates of your email invite. Just make sure you have their correct personal information first.

Format for Mobile Devices

Email opens are trending more and more towards mobile. Larger portions of your target audience view their email through mobile first, as high as 65% - 80% in some cases. If you’re using an HTML based email design, you need to make sure that it reads well on mobile devices. Also, the subject lines need to be short enough so that they aren’t cut off in mobile email readers.

Be Careful When Using Incentives

Incentives can help entice your audience into providing their opinion, but they must be used carefully. Improperly showcasing a survey incentive could actually work against engaging an audience. For example, in an email distribution campaign, featuring the survey incentive in the email subject line may lead to users to believing the email is spam. This is an unfortunate side effect of the constant spam most people receive.

Getting participants to take your survey is not a cut and dry process. What works for the target audience of one survey may not work for the audience of another. You may want to try experimenting with various approaches and test them against a portion of your audience to see which garners the best response rate. Keeping these best practices in mind is a good place to start and will help encourage your audience to take your survey.

Contact an Expert

Jian Huang is the Chief Executive Officer at Survature providing the vision for reinventing the way the world experiences surveys. He is a professor of computer science at the University of Tennessee (UT) researching data analysis, visualization, and human-computer interaction. His research has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the US Department of Interior, Intel, NASA, and UT-Battelle. Jian received his PhD from the Ohio State University.