We can lower the nonresponse rate in ten simple ways:
- Recruit from different sources: don’t send invitations just through email, but also publish your survey on different web communities (forums, social networking sites etc.)
- Personalize invitations sent through email: messages with personal address increase response rate by at least five percent, sometimes even more. Send invitations to "Mr Johnson" and not just to "Dear Someone".
- Email invitation should be short and simple: besides the link don’t forget to highlight the following:
- who are you and what is the purpose of this research;
- what does research mean to every respondent;
- length of a survey – especially highlight that if your survey is short, but do not mislead, because respondents prefer to answer to a long survey if they know what they are in for;
- the anonymity of the survey.
- The first page of the survey should be simple and attractive: it should motivate respondents. Don’t put instructions on it, because research shows that respondents don’t like to read long instructions on the first page.
- Specify how you will use answers: write this on the first page. People on the internet prefer to share information if they know how it will be used. Highlight the anonymity and confidentiality of the information and it’s sharing with others.
- Don’t forget to send email reminders: after a certain period of time, send another invitation to people that have not yet responded. You can do this by sending thanks to those that have already responded and to encourage those who have not yet responded. It is best not to send more than two reminders. It is especially important to remove the email address of people who do not wish to be contacted anymore.
- Consider encouragements – gifts, rewards etc.: studies show that in order to increase the response rate, strong encouragements are not necessary. Even small gifts can contribute to a higher response rate.
- Some people just want to share their opinion: a lot of people will respond just because they want to share their opinion and not because of the rewards. Therefore, think about optional rewards – e.g. lottery.
- Use graphics and other internet options strategically: surveys usually don’t need graphics. They can even be a disturbance or affect the answers. In some cases, graphics can increase response rate (e.g. link or an image of the reward etc.)
- Publish the results of the survey online and make them visible to all respondents: respondents are interested in survey results and their publication will help to convince them to take part in the survey.