6 Simple Tips to Write Perfect Subject Lines For Your Survey Email Invitations

We get a lot of questions around survey response rates and ways to increase participation, particularly from those who send out email survey invitations. Often, we get asked “how can I get more people to respond to my survey? I’m sending out email invites, but my response rates are still low!” In this blog, we wanted to share some tips on the best practices to increase your survey response rates when using email invitations.

What is the email funnel and why is it important?

When you send out an email invitation to your survey, before your recipient submits a response, you need a few things to happen.

#1 – You need the email to be delivered.

If your email never makes it to the inbox and gets thrown straight into the spam folder, you’re out of luck before you’ve even started. Let’s be honest, nobody looks at their spam folder. Your email is as good as gone, and so is your potential response.

#2 – You need the email to be opened.

Look at your inbox right now. How many emails are there? And how many have come in in the past day? We all suffer from email overload. I’d say it’s an epidemic. In the sea of emails that your potential respondents are surely receiving, yours needs to stand out from the crowd. Your email needs to have a subject line that gets it noticed, and opened.

#3 – You need the copy to convert.

Even though you’ve passed the first two tests, the job isn’t done. What you’ve written within the body of the email matters. It needs to be personal and enticing. The body of your email needs to do two things: it needs to be read, and it needs to convince the reader to click on your survey link.

When sending out email invitations for your survey, attention has to be paid to each of these steps within the funnel. For your email to work, each has to work as well.

FluidSurveys will take care of the first step. We’ll make sure that all of your emails get delivered straight into your respondent’s inbox. The next two? Well, we’re here to help!

Writing subject lines that get your emails opened

It’s important to remember that most of the time, people are very time poor and easily distracted. This is particularly true in the case of emails. We get so many emails every day that we ignore most of them. For us to open an email, the subject line has to really capture our attention. Based on our experience, there’s a few things we’d recommend. We’ve come up with a list of tips that will help you improve the open rates of your survey invitations.

Tip #1 – Personalization is Important

If you were trying to get a friend’s attention on a busy street, you’d call their name. Do the same with your emails. Put the recipient’s name directly into your subject line, and in a crowded inbox, it’ll help your email stand out. Research has shown that personalizing emails with the recipient’s first and last name has a significant, positive effect on open rates.

Tip #2 – The From Line Matters

The “From” information can be just as important as your subject line. It’s important to clearly communicate who you are. If your respondent knows you by name, include it in full in the From field (both first and last). If they don’t know you personally but know the name of your organization, include that instead. Avoid using ambiguous terms like, “Info” or email addresses that the recipient has never seen before.

Tip #3 – Keep Subject Lines Short

Research has shown that shorter subject lines have higher open rates. Try to keep subject lines under 50 characters. Succinct, clear messages have the best chance of being read, and opened.

Tip #4 – Don’t Forget About Mobile Devices

How did you last check your email? On your desktop/laptop or phone? There’s a good chance it was on your phone. Research shows that almost half of people are viewing emails on mobile devices, so when crafting your subject line, it’s important to take this into account. Once again, short and succinct is the way to go.

iPhones cut off subject lines after 35 characters in portrait view and 80 in landscape view, while Android limits are 33 characters in portrait view and 72 in landscape view. On both devices, the “From field” is also more prevalent than the subject line. This great infographic illustrates how your emails will render on various devices. Optimizing for mobile is critical.

Tip #5 – Use the Right Words, Avoid the Wrong Ones

Crafting a subject line is very much like a fine art. It requires a high level of creativity and knowledge of what your customers and sample groups respond to. There’s no perfect formula, but there are some best practices.

More specifically, words like “urgent” and “important” tend to result in significantly higher open rates, and “announcements” and “invitations” perform better than “reminders”. People also love being thanked. Including the word pairing “Thank You” has shown to increase the likelihood of someone opening your email.

Tip #6 – Test, Test, Test

As we’ve mentioned, writing subject lines that get opened is far from an exact science. What works for one sample group might not always work for another. While there are general rules to follow, it’s always important to test different messages. For each survey you send, test out at least 2 subject lines on a portion of your recipients. See which one has a better open and response rate, and use that one to send out your remaining emails. Not only will you optimize your emails, you’ll learn what works for you.

Final Thoughts

There really is no perfect subject line. You’ll always have to experiment and test to see what works for you and your respondents. But we think the tips mentioned above provide some great rules to follow, and work off of!

Now, getting people to open your email is only part one. After, you need to convince them to click the link and complete the survey. But, with a great subject line, you’re off to a great start!

Next week, we’ll cover some strategies on what to include within the body of the email.

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