General Research Tips
Minimizing Non-response In a Mail Survey

There are several keys to keeping mail survey non-response to a minimum.

  • Keep the questionnaire short. Long questionnaires are a turn-off to most people.
  • Make the questionnaire attractive. This includes the layout of the questions, the amount of "white space" in the document (the more the better), and the fonts and colors used.
  • Mail the questionnaire with a compelling cover letter. The cover letter should clearly point out why the respondent's opinion is of importance. Consider including how the data will be used. If possible, the letter should come from an official high in the organization.
  • Enclose postage-paid return envelope. This is an absolute necessity.
  • Enclose an incentive. An incentive, such as a dollar bill, will compensate people for their time. However, when conducting customer satisfaction research this is not a good idea, since it amounts to "paying off" respondents.
  • Send a follow-up mailing. A post card with a brief reminder message can be sent two weeks following the original questionnaire mailing.
  • Keep your mailing list up-to-date. This is a highly mobile society. If you use a list that is even a year old, your response rate can decline dramatically.
  • Avoid "heavy mail" dates, and times when respondents are likely to be pre-occupied. The last thing someone wants to deal with the day before they pay their taxes is questionnaire. Similarly, there are certain times of the year, differing from culture to culture, when people want to spend time with their families.