When should I send out a reminder to my online survey?

Response rates to surveys can be notoriously low and is one of the most significant problems affecting the validity of the survey results. However, there are number of things that can be done to improve the chances of getting a good response to your survey, which really starts at the design stage of the questionnaire. See my post: 10 easy ways to improve response rates to your online survey

One important approach is sending out reminders to your online survey. The question is when and how many times do you send a reminder?

If the questionnaire has been well designed, and your invitation email has been properly constructed etc. you see an increasing response for about two-weeks which then begins to flatten out. If no action is taken by the researcher, the response rate will then decline until it’s no more than a trickle.


So when should the first email reminder be sent?

To determine this, daily returns need to be logged and plotted as a graph. Once a plateau is beginning to be seen that’s the point at which your email reminder is sent. See 10 easy ways to improve response rates to your online survey  as how to construct a reminder email. This is can be around two weeks from the launch of the survey.

It’s worth noting that the intention of the reminder is not to convince those not interested in participating but, as reminder for those not having had time or have put the survey to one side to complete later.

As to when during the week to send the email can be an issue unless you know the behaviour patterns of your audience and the type of audience. For example it would be pointless sending a reminder to GPs over the weekend. However, for patient this might be an appropriate time. For most working people however, mid week tends to be the busiest. Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and the weekend are probably worth considering. However, one needs to be reflective and sensitive to religious beliefs and holidays.


What can I expect from sending the reminder?

It’s difficult to put a figure to this question however, response rates will show an improvement which can be as much as 40%.


Should I send a second email reminder?

Sending a second reminder should certainly be considered as this will result in a further increase. Not as much as the first but, could increase your response rate by at least 3-10%.

Choosing when to send the second reminder is much like the first. Keep tracking the returns and once a fall is seen to start then the email should go out.


Should I send more reminders?

Sending a third reminder will result in a little upturn in the responses but, this is likely to be minimal and possibly start to annoy your audience. Therefore, keeping to two reminders is good practice.



If your database enables segmentation such as age, sex and other relevant characteristics you can plot the response rates by these different characteristics. This will help you track the differing response rates and effectively gauge when and how to send out reminders.

View our post: How do I calculate response rates to my online survey 

Important note.

You will need to be careful to not send out reminders to who have already responded or have declined or asked not to be contacted again.


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If you would like to know more about how we can help you in the design of your online survey visit our website: www.healthsurveysolutions.com 

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Categories: Questionnaire design


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