The Survey Introduction
When you have created a great online survey, you’ll want to generate as strong a response rate as you can, as any meaningful actions you’re able to take will depend on the reliability and quality of your response data.
That’s why the introduction to the questionnaire is so important, as you only get a very short window of time to get the attention of respondents, to hook them in and to encourage them to take your survey.
So not only does it need to be enticing, the aspects of what you include in your survey intro are also vital, if you’re to get as many completed responses as you can.
Survey intro essentials
Your purpose: state the reasons behind your survey and exactly what you are looking to achieve with it. By being clear and transparent about your survey’s purpose, you’re more likely to be perceived as a company the respondent can trust and may want to help.
For example, if you were distributing a questionnaire to find out more about peoples’ views on the climate and wider environment, and the potential impact that their lifestyle choices were having on this, you may want to write something similar to the following:
With this questionnaire we’re looking to find out more about what you and your peers think about lifestyle choices and their effect on the climate and environment.
People will be more reluctant to share any data with an unknown company, so it’s important to provide your company name and maybe some basic information about yourself.
So, if you were a gym owner and you wanted people to take your survey, you might want to write something along the following lines:
Nice to meet you. We’re the Serious Fitness Gym, and we want to do more to improve your health and fitness.
Every survey has a target audience, but if you can quickly let respondents know what it is about them that fits in with your criteria, it will increase their recognition and interest in helping you.
So, if you were targeting a teenage audience you may like to write something as follows:
Wondering why you have been chosen? We’re looking to get the views of teenagers between the ages of 13-19, which is why you’re the ideal fit!
Be honest and upfront about the length of your survey, as you’ll risk people abandoning it, if when they get half-way through it appears to be taking much longer than they expected.
Generally, most people prefer shorter surveys, so to ensure this make sure you limit your questionnaire to essential questions only.
When discussing the length of your survey in your introduction you may like to write something such as:
We appreciate how precious your time is. That’s why we’ve included just a few essential questions, that should take you no more than a minute in total to complete.
It’s also important to be clear and upfront about this, letting respondents know exactly how you intend to use their data, both for respondents that are anonymous and those that are not. If you do this, they will be more likely to answer your questions truthfully.
If we were to use the climate survey example again, for anonymous respondents you may like to write something as follows:
The results of this survey will help give us a greater insight into peoples’ lifestyle choices and how they may be changing due to a greater awareness of climate and environmental issues. But don’t worry we will not spam you in any way. Your responses will remain completely anonymous.
In contrast for respondents that weren’t anonymous you could write something similar to the following instead:
We appreciate you letting us know who you are. We don’t want to spam you in any way, the data we collect will be used for this research purpose only.
People love to win things, so they’re an ideal way to boost your participation rates. Although the prize does not need to be expensive, make sure it has some relevance to your survey’s topic and the audience you’re trying to reach out to.
For example, if you were a retail company that was trying to collect the views of your customers in a satisfaction survey, you may want to offer them the chance to win a voucher for participating, which they could then spend at one of your stores.
Ultimately participants are giving up their time for your benefit, so don’t forget to include a thank you line somewhere in your survey introduction.
Putting your intro together
Having considered all the elements you’ll need to include, you’re now ready to write your introduction. However, it can still be a challenge to ensure it’s not too long, doesn’t contain too much information and will it appeal. So, to help you, we’ve outlined a short, generic survey intro example for you below:
Survey introduction example
Thank you for agreeing to take part in our [state survey’s duration] survey.
We at [company name]are on a quest to find out [briefly state your survey’s aims and objectives], which is why we need your help. Our target audience includes [state target audience parameters). That’s why we have chosen you!
And don’t worry about your data confidentiality [choose either option a or b, depending on whether your respondents are anonymous are not]
(Option a: for anonymous respondents) Be assured that your responses will remain completely anonymous.
(Option b: for non-anonymous respondents) Be assured that the data we collect will only be used for the purposes of this research.
Get started now and grab your opportunity to win [state details of prize to be won]
Extra tips to fine-tune survey intros
There are a few additional points you might want to consider, but the inclusion of some of these will depend on the type of survey or audience you’re trying to reach and whether it’s a largely consumer or B2B orientated one.
Enhance brand recognition:
By adding your logo at the top of your introduction, you’ll not only help to increase your brand recognition, your response rate should improve too. Branding helps improve the clarity of a survey’s origin, making people feel much more comfortable about taking it.
For more information about how you can incorporate your brand’s look and feel across your whole survey, why not take a look at our survey design and branding features.
Make your survey more conversational:
Bringing more personality into your introduction, particularly if you’re trying to appeal to a consumer audience can also benefit your survey participation and completion rate.
Consider using emoticons:
Although this will depend on the audience’s composition, you may want to think about using emoticons in your introduction, particularly if you’re trying to create a lighter or more playful tone.
Show off your incentives:
If you’re offering respondents the chance to win a prize you may want to illustrate it with a picture, as an extra incentive for them to participate in your survey.
When a serious tone is ok: there will be occasions when a more serious and professional tone works better, such as an internal employee survey. For example, if you were running an employee competency assessment survey, a serious tone would help highlight to your employees’ the importance of feedback, to reviewing their progress and highlighting any improvements that needed to be made.
Improving the quality of your survey introduction
From your choice of question types and the wording that you use for them, to your preferred distribution channels, having taken the time to perfect all other elements of your survey, you don’t want to neglect your survey introduction.
While there are no absolute rules about how you should write it, by following some of the advice we’ve outlined you should be able to create a clearer, more enticing survey introduction, which will encourage more respondents to complete your survey and give you more impactful data to work with.