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Web Survey Bibliography

Title Experiments with Email Formatting
Year 2014
Access date 28.08.2014
Email is essential to the success of many web surveys, facilitating easy completion. Despite the importance of email to web surveys, the nature of email invitations has received
surprisingly little attention. We suggest that extensive formatting lowers response rates and recommend using minimal formatting, comparable to a typical person to person email, due to display problems and resemblance to bulk email. We present the results of random assignment experiments on the impact of email formatting on survey response, conducted on elite populations. Experiment 1 tested two conditions in an email reminder: extensive and elegant HTML formatting against minimal HTML formatting (a scanned signature was included but otherwise the email appeared as text-only). The minimal formatting condition yielded more responses. Experiments 2 and 3 will be fielded in late 2013. Experiment 2 replicates Experiment 1 in an email invitation (as opposed to a reminder), comparing extensive HTML formatting against minimal HTML formatting. We repeat the treatment conditions of Experiment 1 to determine whether the results hold true for invitations. It is at least arguable that an extensively formatted invitation serves to enhance the legitimacy of the request by emphasizing the authority of the requestor and may enhance response to later reminders. Experiment 3 extends to the logic of Experiment 1 by comparing the minimal formatting used previously against Outlook-style formatting used by the sender in ordinary person to person email. Experiment 4 used a two-way crossed design. Based on marketing literature, the treatment conditions varied mentioning the subject’s name in the subject line in the email vs. not and including a photo of the sender vs. not. Consistent with our hypothesis, features inconsistent with ordinary email (photo and name mentioned in subject line) had fewer responses. Interestingly, personalization of the subject line generated higher open rates but fewer completions.
Year of publication2014
Bibliographic typeConferences, workshops, tutorials, presentations

Web survey bibliography (4086)