Survey emails  are the most popular way to invite people to complete surveys. And great survey invitations make people want to help you. If you can do that, then you are well on your way towards maximum engagement.

First things first: Don’t be a spammer

Make sure that the people who get your emails are aware of your survey or have agreed to receive emails or offers from you. Unexpected email communications are far more likely to result in spam reports, or deletion.

That might not sound like a big deal. But every spam report you get harms your ability to connect with people long-term. It applies not just to daily email but also to your marketing emails. So, make sure that you are giving yourself the best chance of getting to people all the time: Try to send to people who are aware of your survey or have agreed to get your email.

Who are your survey emails going to come from?

Ever received email from someone whose name is “Do not reply”? Does it make you want to pay attention to the email? No, exactly.

Make the ‘From’ name easily recognisable. People like communications, not ‘blasts’.

Subject lines are important

Like the ‘From’ field, the subject line is your first chance to entice someone. Keep subject lines short (35 characters or fewer), and test it on a mobile device.

Spam filters will catch words like important message, offer, and free. They are also more likely to catch subject lines with the recipient’s name in it.

Also avoid dollar signs, exclamation points, and all-capitals.

There are a number of free tools online like SubjectLine that will help you to test your subject for best results.

Personalise survey emails

When you have the opportunity to personalise survey emails, do it! Personalise information (like names) in the body of your email. This kind of personalisation can have a big impact on your response rates.

This is not such an unusual thing. People don’t like being sent generic things; they like to feel like they are contributing, and that the communication is in some way meaningful.

Here are some other tips for creating great email copy:

  • Thank people in advance, and assure the confidentiality or anonymity of their responses
  • Tell them why you’re doing the survey
  • Tell them why participating is beneficial for them
  • Tell them how long the survey will take (and be accurate – run it yourself in some tests to find out)
  • Include a deadline, so there is a sense of urgency
  • Let recipients know that they’re part of a select group who have been invited to participate.

And remember to include the URL of the online survey, and any instructions they will need to access it. If you redirect them afterwards, tell them!

The idea is to make the entire exercise as unsurprising as possible. When people know what’s going to happen, they feel safe and comfortable, and that makes your survey feel easy to complete.

Know that the invitation isn’t the only email you will need to send

Your survey emails are just one in a series of communications that you will need to design. You will need to send several reminders to people who haven’t completed it. You should be conscious of email management – your survey participant’s email!

This will maximise the number of responses you receive. Like your emails, personalise the responses. Be friendly. Recognise that people have busy lives and demonstrate empathy. Be really clear, and immediately action any opt-out requests that you receive.

Where practical or relevant it’s good practice to offer the survey results to those who took it (remember to include an email address inside the survey!). To do this well, make sure you reference the survey or subject, and remind the recipient that they are getting the offer because they took part.

Right now, this might seem silly. But you know yourself that we all get a lot of emails. With everything else going on in life, they might not remember filling out your survey by the time you have the results.