No matter how great or important your survey is, getting the invitation email right is vital to ensuring good response rates. Without a good survey invitation email template, you risk poor survey participation, which can jeopardize your ability to do any meaningful analysis of the data for your academic study, market research, customer outreach, or marketing campaigns.
Sending an email that people open and then click through is already an uphill battle: According to Campaign Monitor, email campaigns in 2020 had an average open rate of 18% and an average click-through rate of only 2.6%. You must try to minimize both the number of potential respondents who just delete your invitation and those who unsubscribe. A high unsubscribe rate could derail not only your current campaign or study, but also future ones that are targeted at the same audience, since it reduces the pool of contacts you can invite.
Fortunately, there are simple things researchers and marketers can do when crafting a survey invitation email template to maximize response rates. All the pieces of your email — the sending address, the subject line, the body content, the call to action — can have an effect and are important to optimize. Here are some best practices to follow.
Be Clear and Consistent About Who Sent the Email
The email invitation should be clearly “from” your organization, ideally sent from your own authorized domain. Spoofed addresses can hurt your deliverability rate, meaning your invitation ends up in spam folders. Even once it reaches the inbox, recipients are much more likely to open and engage with the email if they recognize the sender. You will want to do the same with any digital incentives you send, making sure they arrive from the same domain and preferably the same address as the invitation. That will ensure better claim rates, which means happy respondents and far fewer “Where’s my reward?” emails for you to field.
Write a Descriptive Subject Line
Another important part of getting your email delivered and opened is the subject line. In fact, 47% of recipients decide to open an email based on the subject line, while 69% use it to determine whether to report a message as spam, according to Invesp, a company that specializes in conversion rate optimization. For your survey invitation, start by clearly defining the purpose of the email in the subject line. If recipients can’t tell that it’s a survey with just a glance, they are likely to ignore it, delete it, or, worse, mark it as spam. It should explicitly mention the survey, without using buzzwords that may cause some email providers to flag it. Even some terms and phrases that would seem like a good idea to include, like “free gift” or “limited time,” can land you in the spam folder. When building your survey invitation email template, add a list of terms to avoid, like this one from HubSpot, and some suggested subject lines to start from, so it’s easier for your team later.
Make It Personal
The first thing you should do in the body of the email is explain why you chose them to take the survey. What makes them the target for this survey, and why is their response important to you? Start with a simple, personal salutation that is consistent with your brand identity. The formality should match your brand’s overall style and the nature of the recipients — “Hey John” could work for a more casual survey targeted at young moviegoers, but something like “Hello Mr. Smith” might be more appropriate for a survey invitation going to highly paid professionals.
Explain the Survey’s Mission
Next, tell invitees about the survey’s purpose and how you will use the information they provide. How will their feedback help you as an organization or company, benefit them, and/or serve the greater good? For a customer satisfaction survey, explain that their feedback will make future shopping experiences and customer interactions better for them and others. For a health survey, give a brief summary of the research being done and how it will help improve treatments.
Also mention in the survey invitation email template whether respondents’ identities will remain anonymous and whether the survey results will be made public. When anonymity is promised, make sure you have the proper settings activated to protect participants’ identities — both for the survey itself and any incentives you may be offering. Popular market research software, survey tools, and rewards management platforms make it easier to keep respondents anonymous.
Give a Realistic Estimate of the Time Involved
Your invitees are unlikely to click the survey if they don’t know how long it takes. Or, if they do and find that it takes longer than they are willing to invest, then they will simply abandon it without finishing. Explicitly mention the length of the survey, and be realistic. Underestimating the amount of time needed not only leads to more dropoffs, it also means potential respondents won’t trust any future invitations you send, a real problem for ongoing research studies and marketing efforts. It’s also a good idea to indicate in the invitation email if the survey can be stopped and returned to later. This will result in a greater number of complete responses.
Use Digital Survey Incentives to Show Your Appreciation
Everyone is busy these days, so a powerful way to increase survey response rates is to thank respondents for their time by offering a reward. Survey incentives are a key factor in driving response rates and achieving sufficient participation. Make sure your reward offer is placed prominently at the beginning of the email invitation. The amount of your incentive will vary depending on the nature and length of your survey, as well as your target audience. Incentives can range from as little as $5 for short surveys aimed at consumers to $100 or more for longer surveys targeted at executives and highly paid professionals.
In addition to offering the right value, there are other things you can do to make sure your rewards are compelling enough to maximize survey participation. First of all, since you are already sending your survey invitation via email, it makes sense to also use digital rewards. That way, respondents not only receive their reward in their email, they get the instant gratification of getting it immediately upon survey completion. Another great way to make your survey incentive more enticing is to offer participants a choice of reward. When they can select what they want from major U.S. and international brands, such as Amazon, Starbucks, DoorDash, or even Visa or Mastercard, the reward will be more meaningful to them.
Promise to Share the Results (If You Can)
Another way to incentivize respondents is to share the results of your survey. Of course, this is not always possible. But when it is possible, it allows you to show respondents how much their participation mattered and satisfies their curiosity to see the outcome. If you do plan on sharing the results, be sure to mention it in the invitation.
Create Urgency by Setting a Deadline
Finally, you need to set an obvious hard deadline that will encourage your invitees to complete the survey in a timely manner. Without this urgency, they may intend to fill out the survey later but forget or lose track of the invitation in their inbox. You can also use your digital survey incentives to create urgency by offering a reward to only a certain number of respondents, like the first 50 or 100. (It’s also a great way to keep your incentives budget in check, if that’s a concern.)
A Sample Survey Invitation Email Template
Here’s an example of a survey invitation email so you can get a feel for what works.
First, the email clearly identifies who it’s from and what its purpose is: Smith Hotel wants the recipient to take a short survey and receive a reward. Then, it succinctly explains the purpose and circumstances of the survey, preemptively answering questions that many recipients will have. The recipient is assured that the survey is anonymous, will be used internally to improve the webinar experience, and will take only five minutes.
The email then clearly defines a deadline, followed by a prominent, easy-to-click link that gives respondents quick access to the survey. Finally, the email reiterates the goal of the survey and concludes with a friendly message. It’s signed with contact information, providing a way for invitees to contact the company with questions.
Great Data Starts With Great Survey Emails
Starting your study or campaign with a well-constructed survey invitation email template is critical. These invitations are easy to write, but many researchers and marketers make key mistakes that prevent their invitations from being effective. By following these tips to make a strong template, you can easily and effectively create compelling invitations time and time again, driving up response rates and maximizing your data.