Seven tips for better email invitations for web surveys

February 12, 2008 at 9:54 am 2 comments

Further to my earlier post on ten tips for better web surveys, the email that people receive inviting them to complete an online survey is an important factor in persuading people to complete the survey – or not. Following are some recommended practices and a model email to help you with this task:

1. Explain briefly why you want an input: it’s important that people know why you are asking their opinion or feedback on a given subject. State this clearly at the beginning of you email, e.g. “As a client of XYZ, we would appreciate your feedback on products that you have purchased from us”.  

2. Tell people who you are:
it’s important that people know who you are (so they can assess whether they want to contribute or not). Even if you are a marketing firm conducting the research on behalf of a client, this can be stated in the email as a boiler plate message (see example below). In addition, the name and contact details of a “real” person signing off on the email will help.

3. Tell people how long it will take: quite simply, “this survey will take you some 10 minutes to complete”. But don’t underestimate – people do get upset if you tell them it will take 10 minutes and 30 minutes later they are still going through your survey…

4. Make sure your survey link is clickable: often survey softwares generate very long links for individual surveys.  You can often get around this by masking the link, like this “click to go to survey >>“. However, some email systems do not read correctly masked links so you may be better to copy the full link into the email as in the example below. In addition, also send your email invitation to yourself as a test – so you can click on your survey link just to make sure it works…

5. Reassure people about their privacy and confidentiality: people have to be reassured that their personal data and opinions will not be misused. A sentence covering these points should be found in the email text and repeated on the first page of the web survey (also check local legal requirements on this issue).

6. Take care with the “From”, “To” and “Subject”: If possible, the email address featured in the “From” field should be a real person. The problem will be if your survey comes from it may end up in many people’s spam folders.  For the “To”, it should contain an individual email only – we still receive email invitations where we can see 100s of email addresses in the “To” field – it doesn’t really instill confidence as to how your personal data will be used. The “Subject” is important also – you need something short and straight to the point (see example below). Avoid using spam-catching terms such as “win” or “prize”.

7. Keep it short: You often can fall into the trap of over explaining your survey and hiding the link somewhere in the email text or right at the bottom. Try and keep your text brief – most people will decide in seconds if they want to participate or not – and they need to be able to understand why they should, for whom, how long it will take and how (“Where is the survey link?!).

Model email invitation:   

Subject: XYZ Summit 2008 – Seeking your feedback

Dear participant,

On behalf of XYZ, we thank you for your participation in the XYZ Summit.

We would very much appreciate your feedback on the Summit by completing a brief online survey. This survey will take some 10 minutes to complete. All replies are anonymous and will be treated confidentially.

To complete the survey, please click here >>

If this link does not work, please copy and paste the following link into your internet window:

Thank you in advance; your feedback is very valuable to us.

Kind regards,
J. Jones
Corporate Communications
XYZ Company
tel: ++ 1 123 456 789

Benchpoint has been commissioned by XYZ to undertak this survey. Please contact Glenn O’Neil of Benchpoint Ltd. if you have any questions:

The following article from Quirks Marketing Research Review also contains some good tips on writing email invitations.


Entry filed under: Evaluation tools (surveys, interviews..), PR evaluation, Training evaluation.

10 tips for better web surveys Getting the final evaluation report right / write

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