We set up a survey, we have the analytical tools in place to slice and dice the results. But, how do we get people to participate in the survey? What are the elements that will make an invite to take a survey inviting enough? When we want to reach beyond the circle of friends and well-wishers we have all of three seconds to catch and keep the invitee’s attention. It is a challenge indeed.
The first thing to keep in mind while writing that perfect invitation to take the survey would never lose sight of the aim of the invite. It is very easy to get carried away with filling in as much information as possible as if it were the last chance to approach the invitee. It might as well be, but loading your approach is not going to achieve anything and might push the reader further away. So, stay focused on the what you want from the invite and let every word, every image be directed towards that aim.
The second question would be how do you want to approach the potential survey-taker? Is it going to a Web invite in the form of a pop-up window? A Social Media invite over Facebook, Twitter and the like? An e-mail?
The forms other than e-mail are more likely to be even shorter and more direct than an e-mail. So, whatever we would advice for an e-mail invite would apply to the other forms, only you will have to skip the running text parts and try to achieve those by other design elements. You could consider creating an image as an invite and have the image do the rounds in all platforms.
However, with e-mail invites, there are certain other things you have to keep in mind while creating both the text and design of the invite.
An e-mail invite has three steps before the reader even reaches the survey:
– The e-mail should be delivered: it has to evade the junk/spam folder successfully.
– The e-mail should be opened: the reader shouldn’t hit ‘delete’ at the e-mail’s sight in their inbox.
– The e-mail should convert: the reader should be prompted to take the survey.
– In order to avoid the spam folder, make sure to send the e-mail from a white-listed e-mail address.
– Use a clean e-mail list so that you don’t end up sending the bulk e-mail to invalid e-mail addresses.
– Avoid words in the subject line that are known to be used by spam filters – free, discount, and so on.
– Again the from address plays an important role. Make sure you are using the company name or a person known to the reader in the from address. That validates the reader’s instinct that it is not spam they are clicking on.
– If it is from a subscription list, make sure the e-mail address is one that the readers are used to getting emails from.
– The subject line is a deal breaker! If you observe your own habits, you will realise, for most e-mails we decide whether to open it or not based on what the subject line stays.
– The first step is to avoid spam as mentioned earlier.
– It has to be short and focused. Remember a reader has their finger on the delete button while going through email. A long-winded sentence in the subject line is going nowhere but to the trash can.
– Be direct. State the purpose of the e-mail and maybe even the survey upfront in the subject line itself.
– Be creative, but not over-smart. You want to be different but not so different that the reader has to read the subject line twice to understand your wit. Because they aren’t going to. Read it twice, that is. The trick is to take the effort to make it look effortless and simple.
– Make the subject line about the reader. Here, you have to avoid highlighting a gift or a discount in the subject line because your e-mail might end up in the spam folder. An incentive of this sort is best left for the body of the e-mail.
– If the survey is short, highlight it in the subject line itself. You can tell them how much time it will take them or that there are only 3/5 questions in the survey.
– A good place to look for ideas for the perfect subject line is your Inbox. What is the kind of subject lines that make you open an e-mail? Another place to look at is your browsing habits – what kind of headlines make you click on them to reach the article – without being click bait?
In this context, a conversion is when the reader takes the survey. Remember, we are not to lose sight of that one aim. The battle is more than half won when the reader has reached the body of the e-mail. Now, we have to work on keeping them there.
– Like the subject line, keep the body of the e-mail short too. Make your point, point the reader to the survey, and leave.
– Personalise as much as possible. Do not restrict the personalisation just to the salutation using mail-merge. Of course, that helps and is necessary too, but it is a basic requirement. Try to engage the reader by having a conversational tone in the text of the e-mail too.
– Open the e-mail with the purpose of the e-mail. “You are receiving this e-mail because you signed up for our newsletter subscription,” is what you want to convey but is drab. An alternate like, “As promised, we bring to your our weekly subscription. Let’s start off with wanting to help you better. Here’s a survey about your recent experience at our site.” And so on. It is important to show them how they will benefit from taking the survey. This might be a good opportunity to mention an incentive (gift/discount) if any.
– Mention the average time was taken/number of questions. This tells the invitee how much time they need to set aside. Be honest. If you say 5 minutes and it takes 10, not only will get an incomplete survey or no survey at all, you will also be harnessing ill-will.
– Give your contact information and physical address. This builds credibility and gives the invitee an access point if they have questions.
– If you are taking personal/demographic information, assure them that you won’t be using the information for spam or sell the information. Make sure you stick to your promise. Confidentiality is sacred.
– Last but most certainly the most important, have a clear link to a survey. Avoid images because invitees who read text-only e-mail will not see the link. Else, provide alternate text link too. Make sure there is a lot of white space around the link. Don’t clutter that space with another call to actions. Remember the aim of this activity.
– Make sure you thank them for their time and effort.
– If the invitee list is from an e-mail list, an option to unsubscribe is as important as anything else you are doing.
Beyond these there are a few generic things that you ought to keep in mind while sending out an e-mail invite:
– Make sure you are adhering to spam regulations.
– Be careful about reminder e-mails, if you are sending them at all. These e-mails work for sure, but you could end up over-doing it. Keep them in balance and most certainly keep them short.
– Keep phone usage in mind. A lot of people check their e-mail on their phones. So, have the survey be as mobile compatible as is possible.
It always helps to take a step back and see what is the most interesting thing about your survey. Why would you take it? Try to highlight those points in your e-mail. If you can’t specifically point at one or two such points, something is not right and you need to fix the survey itself. Having said that, it is as important if not more, for you to put in time and effort to write the invitation, as it is to prepare the survey itself. Because, our ultimate goal for survey was to get to know our customer satisfaction.