Communication Matters: Building Buzz

Sometimes, increasing the response rate of a survey comes down to communication, communication, communication. Communication allows you to explain the importance of the survey and how the results of the survey will impact the life of the participants. Communication gives you an opportunity to initiate conversations and create a buzz for the survey. Communication sets expectations and promotes transparency.

In our many years of working with many clients, we have seen this method – when used correctly – consistently pay rich dividends. For all the planning and work that goes into constructing a great survey, the data won’t mean much if nobody participates. It’s like planning a huge party and then forgetting to let people know that it’s happening! Nobody wants to host a party for one, and nobody wants to see low survey response rates.

So, what’s the right way to communicate with the participants?

We have seen that internal surveys – those going out to employees and colleagues – tend to show better response rates than surveys sent out to clients or to a survey panel. The reason is obvious: a small, close-knit group, can be engaged around a common topic and in more intimate ways than just sending an email. Clients have used posters, Facebook posts, newsletter mentions, postcards, contests, and internal portal sites to create buzz and increase the chances of participants taking and completing the survey. Surveys connected to events benefit from communication integrated with the event itself: if a speaker tells you to take a survey, it’s pretty likely that survey awareness – and participation! – will be increased. Thoughtful consideration when engaging participants will invariably yield a higher response rate.

Once you’re at the invitation stage, we have seen that the email sender’s profile carries a lot of weight in a participant’s decision on whether or not to take the message seriously. An email from a Sr. VP or the CEO of the organization tends to grab more attention than one from a Marketing Coordinator – as I know all too well! The subject line, too, is very important. Next to the sender’s name, this may be the only information a participant has in deciding whether or not to click and open this invitation. Subject lines should be concise and specific, including a call to action. Within the invitation itself, do not focus on why the survey is important for you: turn that around and let them know how the results of the survey will impact them. Knowing how their participation will benefit them will encourage participants to complete the survey and will make their experience with your products and services more meaningful. Plus, keep setting those expectations – how long the survey will take, if there’s a deadline, and, of course, what it’s about!

Pre-survey communication – a small step, but one that goes a long way in improving the response rate. Try integrating communication into preparations for your next survey and share your comments with us.