Poorly Produced Survey Invites

(The First Part Five Of A Five Part Series):

From the series: Improving Survey Effectiveness – Common Survey Pitfalls … And How To Avoid Them.
Part: One Of Five
Written By: Paul Quinn


Unfortunately many of the survey invites that land in our inbox from various 3rd parties are very poorly constructed. Often it appears that a disproportionate amount of time has been spent developing the questionnaire, with the survey invite seemingly more of a last minute afterthought. To me this is akin to organising a lavish wedding of 500 guests and then sending the invites out on the back of an old newspaper. Just wrong.

Specifically, some of the more common e-mailed survey invite mistakes I see (and ways to avoid these) include:

  • Lack of information given about data confidentiality. Especially important when conducting sensitive staff surveys. You must take the time to explain: (a) exactly who will see the survey results, (b) whether participant’s responses will be linked to their name, and (c) whether results will be reviewed in cumulative format, or if individual results will be reviewed one-by-one.
  • No ‘What’s In It For Me?’
    You need to take the time to explain, from the respondent’s perspective:
  • What the purpose of the survey is.
  • Why participants should bother taking 10 minutes of their valuable time to complete the survey.
  • How the survey impacts them and their job.

Your invite needs address these issues and make the participant feel it’s worth their while responding. And while this tactic may not be appropriate for all survey types, the offer of an incentive to a certain number of people who complete your survey can also be an effective way to significantly boost response rates.

Inappropriate sender. Whilst sometimes surveys are co-ordinated by a marketing assistant or HR executive, it’s often not the best idea to send the survey invite out under that person’s name. If you want to ensure maximum response rates you need to ensure that your survey invite is sent from someone who your target audience will recognise as holding positional authority. Typically that’s someone at Director level. (Note – that doesn’t mean that this person will automatically receive any survey bounce backs. PeoplePulse lets you send a survey invite from Person ‘X’, but direct any bounce backs to e-mail address ‘Y’.)

  • No mention of next steps. As an employee of a company if I receive 5 surveys in a year from HR on various topics, and I diligently complete them all as instructed, yet never once hear back from HR with a summary of the data collected and a list of some of the key action points and plans that are in place to improve issues raised, do you think I’m going to be as motivated to complete more surveys in the year ahead? Of course not. As a general rule, people love being given a platform to express their views and opinions. But these same people also need to know that you’ve actually listened, and have plans in place to do something about the problems identified. For example, I’ve seen companies receive great survey response rates when they advise in their invite that a ‘Post Survey Action Plan’ committee has been established comprising representatives of various areas of the business and will conduct their first meeting the week after the survey closes.
  • How do I start? This may sound obvious, but I have seen survey invites where the survey link is buried under the sender’s e-mail signature and legal disclaimer. Not a great way of ensuring high response rates! You need to make it as easy as possible for your invitees to identify your survey link and start your survey immediately. I have a preference for adding the survey link twice – once at the very top of the page for those people that quickly scan their e-mails and want to quickly commence the survey, and once again below your key messages in the body of the invite. Survey links should always sit on a separate line and be easily identified by the standard hyperlink format of blue underlined text.

Next issue:

Part Two: Ineffective Invite Timing – What Time Of Day And Day Of The Week Works!

Also ahead in this series:

Part Three: Excessive Questionnaire Length
Part Four: Scant Consideration Given During Questionnaire Design to Reporting
Part Five: Optimising Your Post Survey Follow up


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