Mail surveys offer opportunities to reach populations not easily accessible online, but they require significant logistical planning and can be expensive. This resource discusses strategies for reducing the cost and time requirements of mail survey preparation.
Pre-notifications and advance letters seem to boost response rates (Rao et al. 2010). Sending replacement questionnaires has also been shown to increase responses (P. Edwards et al. 2002).
Mail surveys use postal services to deliver questionnaires to sampled populations and request their return in an enclosed prepaid reply envelope. They are relatively inexpensive to conduct compared to other interview modes, can reach broad geographic areas, and provide population-based data more quickly than in-person field interviews. Mail survey methods are particularly attractive to researchers who want to collect information from populations that do not respond well to other interview approaches.
Research suggests that gaining compliance with a mail study requires that the design of its materials be as appealing and enticing to potential participants as possible. This is especially important in cases where the survey or its mailed materials may reveal sensitive or private information. To encourage participation, a pre-notification or advance letter should be sent to prospective study participants. This letter should include information about the topic, purpose, and organization of the upcoming study. It should also observe guidelines for aesthetic style and legibility.
In addition, incentives can help to encourage survey participation. These incentives can be in the form of cash, prizes, or gifts. Providing incentives can also signal to participants that the research team values their participation and is concerned about the outcome of the study. However, researchers must carefully consider the cost and implications of offering incentives.
The mailed material for this 付郵便送達 現地調査 included twelve-page questionnaire booklets and a folded cover sheet in an inner envelope (8.5 by 5.8 inches) inside a larger outer envelope (9.3 by 6.5 inches). The inner envelope was printed with the return address, delivery address, and Every Door Direct Mail indicia (which substitutes for postage) directly; the outer envelope required manual addressing and stamping. The weight of returned questionnaires and the paper ink added significantly to the final packaging’s weight.
A customizable button can be added to your email to allow recipients to begin the survey directly from the email. This can be used in conjunction with an embedded question to launch the rest of your survey (or a completion page for single-page surveys) in a web browser. To add a button to your email, select “Add a custom start or complete page link” from the Actions menu in the GetFeedback Survey Builder.
Mail surveys provide a powerful opportunity for researchers to reach specific populations that might not be readily accessible through other interview modes. However, a number of logistical issues arise in the post-design phase from printing through distribution, which can dramatically impact both time and costs.
Printing of survey materials is one of the major logistical challenges associated with mail surveys, particularly if the questionnaire is lengthy. A significant amount of time is required to hand-fold and assemble the individual survey booklets and cover letters into the outer envelopes. The weight of the questionnaires and other mailing pieces also impacts shipping costs, although attention to discount codes, opportunities to pick up printed material at local printers, and aggressive pursuit of printing discounts can help reduce these costs.
The final implication of weight is the need for a substantial level of storage space, particularly when the mailings are produced in large quantities (e.g. 10,000 units for this project). Additionally, the physical size of the items requires coordination between research staff to determine how many boxes will fit into a single vehicle and then how to coordinate transportation to and from the printing shop.
In addition to these logistical challenges, the use of merge fields in email lists will require additional considerations, since responses from recipients who have forwarded a survey link will be recorded as those of the original recipient. This can be problematic if the unique survey link is intended to capture data for an entire community rather than one specific respondent. This is why we recommend only using merge fields if your survey is not designed to be anonymous. Otherwise, consider using a survey call to action that encourages respondents to share the link with others.
Mail surveys present opportunities to reach specific populations that are often difficult or impossible to survey by Internet or telephone. However, the logistics of a mail survey require careful consideration of tradeoffs between research staff time and financial costs.
This particular mail survey was a twelve-page questionnaire booklet inside of an outer envelope, with a folded cover letter and self-addressed stamped return envelope. A total of 240 labor hours were required to manually prepare this mailing, excluding background research. This includes time spent printing, stuffing, hand-addressing, and placing stamps. In addition, this mailing was designed to take advantage of the United States Postal Service EDDM indicia, which reduces postage cost to two ounces per piece.
Postage is one of the largest expenses associated with a mail survey. Paying attention to the weight of materials, using a discount code to reduce shipping costs, and opting for picking up rather than shipping items can significantly mitigate this burden.
While mail surveys have been a longtime staple of many research studies, response rates have declined significantly in recent years. This resource explores possible strategies for increasing responses to physical mailings that are part of a field survey.
Email is an increasingly popular method of survey distribution for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer surveys. It is relatively inexpensive, easy to personalize, and provides real-time insight into how many recipients have opened the survey or clicked through to complete it. However, there are some unique challenges to using this distribution method, such as the potential for emails to get lost in a spam folder or not reach all recipients due to email filtering.
The first step in maximizing your survey response rate is to make sure that the survey link you provide is unique to each recipient. This can be done by using merge fields in the email invitation and/or survey question. It is also important to make your survey short and concise. A longer, more complex survey is less likely to be completed.
To increase your survey response rate even further, consider implementing an email call to action or embedded question in your survey invitation. A Call to Action is a button or graphic that prompts the respondent to take your survey, while embedded questions display the first question of your survey directly within the email body. This is particularly effective when used with a first-question-only call to action, as respondents are more likely to click or open the survey if they see the rest of it already displayed in the email body.
Another method of distributing your survey is to embed it on your website. This is especially useful for business-to-business (B2B) surveys where the survey is being distributed to a specific audience that has already opted in to receive information from your organization. It can also be helpful when you are looking to gather feedback on a specific piece of content or page of your website, such as a blog post.