Is it what you say, or how you say it? An experimental analysis of the effects of invitation wording for online surveys

Z. Fazekas, M.T. Wall, A.P.M. Krouwel

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In this article, we present results from a study of how varying e-mail ‘‘cover letters’’
in the implementation of an online survey can influence response rates. Historically,
there is little evidence that the content of survey cover letters has a strong effect on
response rates in off-line survey environments (Harvey, 1987), although empirical
research on this question is limited and some research has pointed to small, but
significant, effects due to varying letter content (see Brennan, 1992; Redline,
Oliver, & Fecso, 2004). Online self-completion surveys differ from paper versions
in that the link that survey targets must click on to complete the survey is embedded
in the ‘‘cover letter’’ e-mail. As such, we have reason to suspect that the content of
such e-mails may affect the likelihood that targets respond to the survey and influence
the quality of the responses that they provide.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)235-244
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Public Opinion Research
Volume26
Issue number2
Early online date13 Jul 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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