The invitation matters. A well-crafted email invitation is critical to driving survey response. At the end of the day, the world's greatest survey can suffer from low response if the email sent with it isn't effective in generating interest. Branding within the email and a consistent look with other marketing emails is important to convey a cohesive experience. The invitation I received from American Airlines looked and felt like it belonged within the company's overall messaging program, while the Westin survey was sent by Westin's survey partner and was basically a Westin logo and some very long copy blocks. Key points to consider when crafting these emails are to:
· Keep it short and direct. Quickly explain what the survey is about (be specific) and what you want readers to do.
· Let them know how long the survey will take to complete.
· Use imagery to support the brand and guide the reader, rather than making it a boring, text-heavy email (which seems to be the standard practice among most marketers).
· Have a prominent and clear call to action (e.g. "Take the Survey Now").
Keep the survey short. Numerous studies have shown that shorter surveys lead to higher completion rates. Fortunately, each of the surveys I received recently was in the range of 20 to 30 questions, and took less than 10 minutes to complete. Marketers can keep their surveys short by keeping the following in mind:
· Remove questions that don't directly address the survey's goal.
· Only ask each question once (some surveyors like to validate responses by asking essentially the same question two or three ways).
· Limit the number of open-ended questions, as these drive up completion time for respondents.
· Use skip functionality to move respondents past sections that don't apply.
· Integrate and use CRM data to inform the survey.
· Break long surveys (especially very detailed ones) into multiple sessions or among different target groups.
· If there are multiple sections of lower importance, randomly display only one of these sections to each participant.
Have a strong closing and actively leverage the user's participation. Most of the surveys I have taken seem to end in a rather underwhelming page that basically says "Thanks for taking the survey. Click to close this window." But this acknowledgment page presents marketers a great opportunity to further engage survey takers by encouraging interest in future participation and feedback. How about giving a small (and previously unannounced) token of appreciation, such as a discount or freebie, to further thank the respondent? Why not invite the user to join an ongoing feedback panel or survey group? Sending participants an email thanking them for their time further reinforces the value and importance of their feedback (and provides another chance to extend an invitation to join a feedback panel). Some of the better survey platforms these days can also automatically identify issues which may need immediate remediation (based on responses), and these issues should be quickly addressed. Marketers can also leverage Net Promoter Scores to identify those customers who may serve as brand advocates (or brand detractors) and target them accordingly in the future.
As important as the survey itself is marketers' need to drive people to it, and what to do with respondents after they complete it. The tips above are meant to be a starting point for marketers as they consider the three phases of a survey program: driving to the survey, the survey itself, and post-completion.