How to Write a Proper Survey Introduction
Hello everyone! During my time as a survey creator, I have seen countless online surveys, each with its own format and structure. In fact, there is no concrete standard for online surveys that survey creators must follow. The lack of standardization can be seen most clearly in differences between survey introductions and the information provided within them. This freedom in the creation process does help researchers create their own unique look and feel, but it can also leave researchers confused on what information they should be including.
In this article, we will cut through all the colourful designs and interesting styles found in surveys and discuss what makes a proper introduction so crucial, as well as the key sources of content that should be included in all questionnaire intros!
Why are Introductions so Important?
It is argued by many research professionals that creating the correct introduction is the most important part of developing a survey. The reason for this strong sentiment is that the majority of potential respondents will decide whether or not to drop out of the questionnaire based solely on the first page. So, in essence, the intro of the survey acts as the hook to keep respondents.
Furthermore, just like in person interviews, the introduction will set the tone for the rest of the survey. Without providing the correct information your respondents may feel uncomfortable or suspicious of the research study. So when you create your introduction, look at your survey from the perspective of the respondent. Remember, each respondent has to decide whether they are going to provide you with their personal information. The best advice is to try to predict if there are any concerns a respondent may have, and address them immediately in the survey.
The Introduction Essentials
The screen shot below depicts a bare bones introduction. As you will see, each sentence of the intro has a purpose and represents a necessary element of the first page of any questionnaire.
To create an excellent first page a researcher should ensure that the introduction contains four key parts:
1) A thank you statement: An introductory thank you will go a long way for making respondents feel welcome and willing to participate. Not only should this statement reflect your gratitude to the respondent, it should also highlight the importance of their input. This will make the respondent feel valuable to the study.
2) The topic of the study: Many people can be reluctant to complete a survey that they do not understand or are suspicious of. It’s therefore best to be up front and transparent with your research goals and purpose. Explain why you’re conducting the questionnaire and how the data will be used. This will build respondent trust and encourage honest, truthful survey answers.
3) The expected time to complete the survey: Respondents will be more likely to take part in a study if they have an idea of how much time they can expect to spend on the questionnaire. Moreover, adding the estimated time will show that you take into account the respondent’s schedule and are not wasting his/her time.
4) A confidentiality statement: If you’re collecting data for the purpose of studying a group as a whole, rather than individual respondents, make sure you promote the survey as confidential. Assuring respondents stay anonymous will allow them to put their privacy concerns at ease and answer all questions truthfully.
TIP: If your survey requires external information on a topic or familiarization with a document, it is best to identify this and provide a link on the bottom of the introductory page. That way they can follow the link before they begin the survey. Do not cut and paste large documents to the introduction! This will look messy and increase the number of drop outs.
The styling is up to you, but by ensuring that each of these elements is present in your survey introduction, respondents will be more likely to participate and provide rich information!
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When inviting a respondent to participate in your online survey, the perception of your cover letter (email) is critical. One mistake people often make with online surveys is that the invitation may look like spam. To minimize this misinterpretation, we recommend using a text email, not html with embedded graphics. Personalize the invite with an email program that utilizes a full email address such as a merge program, rather than a bulk email option.
The most important part of your invitation is your subject line. Within that small area you will need to tell the survey respondent three critical pieces of information:
- Topic of the research
- Incentive (if any) for participating
- Sponsor of the survey
Once you’ve developed the best subject line for your survey you should expand on those three critical points of who, what and reward, in the body of your letter.
In addition, include the following information that will give your invite the credibility it needs for successful survey participation:
- The amount of time the survey will take with a statement such as: “Five minutes of your time”
- Contact information for any questions the respondent may have: A full name, address and contact phone/email
If you follow these basic rules when writing your questionnaire invitation, you will increase your chances of respondent participation, for a successful survey.
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Posted inOnline surveys, Survey design | TaggedOnline survey, Successful Survey, survey, Survey Invitation, survey software