A Customer Survey Invitation Should Be Focused and Honest

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"At all times remember the goal of the invite: to persuade the respondent to provide their feedback on your organization. That's it. Nothing more. Don't add words into the invite that do not directly help you achieve that goal."

That quote come from a good post I found on Writing the Perfect Customer Feedback Survey Invitation—by Adam Ramshaw of Genroe, headquartered in Sydney, Australia, of all places.

Since there has been a lot of recent talk about listening to your audience and designing surveys for them, it seems good to take a step back and make sure they respond. The above quote makes a great point about being realistic with your goals. Don't try to do too much—focus on the goal at hand.

Here are his steps to invitation perfection, SIPA-fied a bit for our purposes.

1. Personalize in your usual way. The greeting should fit your company's usual communication style. If you've been more on the formal side, don't begin "Hey Jane."

2. Why them? "Give the respondent some context for the invite." Why has he or she been selected? "This answers a common concern of email recipients: why am I getting this request?" Have they been on a webinar, to a conference, in a training session or just get the free newsletter? Or simply, "We are inviting you because you are a valuable client."

3. Keep neutral, or stay medium as a football coach here used to say. "Don't tell them how great you are," Ramshaw writes. And don't start like this: "We are the market leader and provide a great service. So we can do even better..." This doesn't help responses and could give biases. Better to let others sing your praise elsewhere.

4. Tell the purpose of the survey. This is about how they will ultimately benefit, not you Jim Sinkinson will expand on this in his Pre-Conference workshop on copywriting at SIPA 2016. It's their time at stake here. Ramshaw's two examples are:

  • "So we can provide you an even better experience we are collecting feedback on how we performed in our last engagement."
  • "We actively use feedback to constantly improve our delivery and provide you with the best possible service."

5. Be honest about the time it will take. "Resist the urge to deliberately under-estimate the time." I definitely agree with this one—if someone tells me a survey will take five minutes and I've gotten through 33% in five minutes, I may abandon. But if they say 10—and Ramshaw advises to be specific on this—and it takes 10, it's building a level of trust.

6. Be available. "Ensure that you put some simple contact details in the message." Most people probably won't contact you, but it "lends credibility to the invite."

7. Make the link and call to action very clear. "It is obvious but make sure you include a clear link to the survey and call to action." Do not make the link an image but if you do, add a text link to it—one that stands out. No reason to be coy.

8. Add a simple thanks. "The respondent is doing you a favor by spending time to help you improve your business so you should thank them for that effort."

9. The invite should come from a real person. There's an entity here in Washington, D.C., that has recently switched from sending out from the entity to Greg. It feels more personal and sincere and makes me pay attention.

10. Offer incentives. A SIPA member raffled three Amazon gift cards to participants and received nearly 500 responses. "Editorial and tangible giveaways, and even gamification elements will improve response," said another member.

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…