Improving survey response rates: The effect of embedded questions in web survey email Invitations

Mingnan Liu, Nick Inchausti


Survey response rate is one of the most critical survey data quality indicators. Many research efforts have been devoted to exploring new ways to improve response rates, especially among web surveys. When inviting participants to web surveys through email, the survey email invitation is the first point of contact made to the survey participants. Several previous studies have examined the impacts of content and design of an email on response rate. However, to our knowledge none of them tested the effect of presenting a survey question in the email. In this study, we report our findings from a web survey experiment focused on embedding the first survey question within the email invitations. In this condition survey takers are able to see and answer the first question of the survey within the survey email invitation. The results show that as compared to the standard email invite (a link without any survey questions shown), the embedded question email invite improves the email click rate, and survey completion rate, with a small cost to survey drop-out rate. Additionally, the responses to the first question of the survey has shown no difference between the embedded and standard email conditions. The implications of this study and future research directions are also discussed.


web survey; experiment; email invitation; embedded question; response rate

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