Increase Your Typical Online Survey Response Rate with Reminders

When launching an email campaign, reminders are an easy and effective way to increase response rates for online surveys. Studies have shown that a simple reminder or two can double the response rates to your study.

After sending an initial email invite to a survey, a follow-up email should always be sent out to contacts that have not taken the survey yet. This serves as a helpful reminder to people and places your email invite back to the top of their inbox if it was missed the first time around.

The chart in Figure 1 is part of a field report that illustrates the daily number of qualified completes for an online survey. An email campaign for this study launched on October 4th, resulting in a rush of completed interviews. A reminder was sent out on October 11, which further increased the number of completes.

The chart is typical of most studies. Almost all the respondent that coming through a survey will do so within the first three days of receiving an email invite or reminder. If a respondent doesn’t fill out your survey after the initial invite, the reminder email is the second chance opportunity to have them do so again.

Chart of online survey response rate.
Figure 1: Number of daily completes for an online survey

Sending reminder e-mails can help improve typical survey response rates

Reminders are typically sent 3-7 days after the initial email invite. The exact timing depends on how quickly field needs to finish and how soon the number of additional completes begins to stall. The field report can help you make that assessment. While in the above example, reminders were sent on October 11, we certainly could have sent reminders on October 8 or 9th. By then, the number of new completes had diminished.

Do not wait more than a week to send a reminder. Studies have shown that waiting too long to send a reminder is detrimental to overall response rates. Reminders are for people that are on the fence or intend to take your survey but haven’t had the chance to. Moving the survey invite back to the top of their inbox through a reminder is helpful to these recipients. But waiting too long results in a loss of interest for your survey.

How many reminders to send

If additional completes are needed, a second reminder can be sent about a week after the first reminder. Careful consideration should be made when sending additional reminders beyond that. More than three isn’t recommended. While research shows that each subsequent reminder increases response rates, each reminder achieves diminishing returns, and too many reminders will annoy the e-mail recipient. You will get spam complaints. This is especially important to keep in mind with branded sends because spamming leads to negative perceptions of the brand.

As a rule of thumb, you can project that the first reminder will pick up about half the number of new completes compared to what was achieved by the initial send. Each subsequent reminder will then achieve half the number of completes as the previous one.

Content of the reminders

Provided that you have written a proper invite, it is effective to simply resend an exact copy of this initial invitation, and use that as a reminder. You may choose to include the word “Reminder” in your subject line or use a new subject line altogether.

Reminders are an important and simple way to boost response rates for online surveys. Be sure to include them as part of your overall research and fielding plan.

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