Research and Consumer Insights

how to write b2b email survey invitations

Let’s Get Personal: Getting the Most out of B2B Survey Invitations

by John Page, VP, Integrated Insight

Published June, 2020

“Please take a moment to provide your feedba…” (clicks “delete”).

Does this sound familiar? We do it every day, sending survey invites into the virtual wastebin with little thought as we weed through more emails than we could possibly ever hope to read. It’s especially true of our work emails, where we may feel even less connection with the sender than invitations sent to our personal accounts.

So, we increase incentives and send more reminders, simultaneously increasing our costs while annoying the recipients. We try even more dramatic subject lines (“Only one day left!”) hoping to fill out the minimum we need to report out our findings. And, when the generous few respond, we fail to acknowldge them, disincentivizing their response to future invitations.

A Better Way

We don’t have to live in this cycle, particularly with B2B surveys. We have options and best practices to make the most out of our invitations, leading to happier respondents and better research.

  1. Rule #1: Don't avoid surveying your customers.
  2. Rule #2: Make it personal.
  3. Rule #3: Promise to keep it short...and keep it short.
  4. Rule #4: Your thanks can mean more than an incentive.

 

Don't avoid surveying your customers.

It can be tempting to trust your gut and the feedback you get from your team on what your customers want. Past survey attempts that didn’t succeed might serve to rationalize a lack of need. Don’t fall into this trap!

Soliticing feedback from your customers in the right way shows that you care about growing and evolving in meeting their needs. It’s a win-win when done right.

Make it personal.

Think about your own email habits – are you more likely to open an email from a business contact you know or an email from one of their generic corporate addresses? The same goes for survey invitations, which, if at all possible, should come from someone they know.

Recently, we programmed and fielded a survey for a client in which they contacted their business customers, asking for feedback on recent interactions. The invitation was relatively standard, and looked like many you likely receive on a regular basis. Of the 2,300+ invitations sent in two waves, only 19 completed the survey.

After reassessing with the client, we negotiated having each of their internal contacts for the businesses reach out with personal email invitations. We provided standard invitation language to draw from, but entrusted the internal contacts to send out the invites. This time, of 750 invitations sent, 130 completed the survey. That’s a 17% completion rate compared with fewer than 1% for the original invitations!

Promise to Keep it Short…and Keep it Short.

It’s always tempting to leave in that extra question, wondering “what if” if it’s not captured. Keep in mind that it’s better to get a completed survey covering most of the content you want than a high dropout rate on a survey that has everything. In the example above, the initial average survey length was nearly 12 minutes. The second version, which saw the dramatically increased completion rate, was only 5 minutes.

It’s tempting as researchers to think that there’s little difference between 5 minutes and 12 minutes, but for B2B surveys that extra length can break your best laid plans. Keep your survey length manageable, and be sure to note a 5 minute length in the invitation if accurate. It can make all of the difference in a response if your customers feel they can complete the survey in between everything else going on in their day vs. having to plan to spend the equivalent of “half a meeting” responding.

Your Thanks Can Mean More Than an Incentive.

Incentives are tricky, particularly for B2B surveys. Navigating corporate and government policies is difficult, as potentially appealing incentives or sweepstakes might land your customers in hot water with their legal departments.

Rather, build in a plan to thank those who complete the survey. It can go a long way toward building the relationship and will help a great deal with future response rates. Of course, sharing information on what you’ve learned in the recent survey is always helpful, but may not always be realistic.

Taking these steps can go a long way toward building more efficient, less expensive and generally better research. It can take more time and coordination to “get personal,” but it’s worth the effort!

 

in person research interviews coronavirus

Myth-Busting In-Person Research in a Socially Distanced World

by Terry Dolan, Director, Integrated Insight
Published May 5, 2020
Image source: Vantage Circle

As we begin the slow process of re-opening parts of the economy, market researchers, like so many in other industries, are closely examining how to uncover meaningful and actionable insights in a post COVID-19 world.

With safety at the forefront and increasing scrutiny on budgets, researchers are being asked to make difficult business decisions, often involving tradeoffs between mission-critical insights and what a tightening budget will allow.

I’m reminded of a conversation I recently had with a market researcher from a destination marketing organization (DMO) in a large city.  She shared with me that she is often asked to profile visitors to her destination, however she doesn’t have a single source she’s able to turn to that includes all of the answers.  As a result, she cobbles together bits and pieces of data from several sources as best she can.

But, in-person research? Now? The answer for many is an emphatic “YES.” However, we must address several myths to understand why:

Myth #1: In-Person Research Is Too Expensive
Myth #2: My Database Is Just As Representative
Myth #3: It's Not Safe Given COVID-19
Myth #4: It's Too Difficult To Start Up

Let's take a look at each of these myths to understand why right now is a good time to implement in-person research.

Myth #1: In-Person Research Is Too Expensive

Understanding the costs of conducting market research is always a key consideration.  However, when weighing costs for tangible things such as labor and technology against outlays for secondary sources of data, factor in the benefit of having total control over the effort.  Mobile phones and tablets are becoming less expensive and more durable and there are many survey software platforms that do not require a hard-core IT professional to program a survey.

Having the ability to design a survey instrument and sample plan that is targeted toward your customer will reduce or eliminate reliance on secondary sources. It puts you in the driver’s seat to answer questions about YOUR customer. If fielding longer surveys in-person is cost prohibitive, consider simply capturing customer contact information for a post-visit survey. There is also an opportunity to move from 1:1 surveying to a one-to-many approach by smartly leveraging multiple devices.  High participation rates can be achieved simply by asking customers to participate in person, even without an incentive. If a consumer has a relationship of any kind with a brand or destination, they are more willing to help than you think!

Myth #2: Other Data Sources Are Just As Representative

It is tempting to simply send survey invitation emails to customer databases. It’s an inexpensive and easy way to conduct consumer research. However, that simplicity comes at an intangible price, as survey respondents from databases don’t often reflect the full customer base. Those in your database are likely your most engaged customers. Email surveys often only capture one person in the household. Those who are willing to respond to an unprompted survey are likely even more skewed and may only represent a small fraction of your total customer base.

There are also some companies (airports, destination marketing organizations, and attractions, for example), that have a mostly anonymous customer base and do not have a list.  For them, conducting market research in person is really the only approach to do it efficiently. In-person research allows for more structured sampling. It also aids in calibrating other data sources, including secondary sources and online research.

Myth #3: It's Not Safe Given COVID-19

Now more than ever, the safety of your customers, employees and data collectors is paramount given the conditions of COVID-19.  However, it’s still possible to safely conduct in-person research. As with any interaction, social distancing, mask usage and device cleanliness are key.  It is also important to think creatively about how in-person data might be collected.  For example, data collectors might intercept respondents and provide a vanity URL that the respondent could enter into his or her own device in order to complete the survey versus stopping to do it in that location. Use good judgment about where and when to place interviewers and make sure they are always aware of their surroundings.

Myth #4: It's Too Difficult To Start Up

At Integrated Insight, we have many years of experience in leading in-person collection teams for a variety of clients. Organizations wishing to dive into in-person research should know it’s critical to identify ‘right fit’ talent who possess both the ability as well as the willingness to conduct the research.  A good data collector is someone who is self-motivated, outgoing, and works well independently in a quota driven environment. They also need to genuinely like people. You might already have some of these people in your organization whose roles could be re-purposed given the changes happening to businesses today. Once hired, put measurements in place and coach them regularly to reinforce positive behaviors and identify performance issues.

Also, don’t be afraid to leverage your data collectors’ expertise as the ‘voice of your customer.’ Remember, they are regularly interacting with your customers and are hearing more unsolicited feedback than could ever be captured in a structured questionnaire.

Standing up an in-person data collection team can be a daunting task even during the best of times, but the insights you will gain coupled with the control over the process, will pay dividends.

For more information on market research and how we partner with brands across the globe, please contact us at info@integratedinsight.com or explore Florida Market Research Companies.

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