How to Perfect Your Survey Invitation Email

Creating a powerful survey invitation email can shape your CX programme’s success and boost response rates.  Here’s our definitive guide to creating a highly effective survey invitation email:


First and foremost, make sure your recipients are happy to receive emails from you – sending an unwanted email can harm your brand’s image and frustrate your customer straightaway.

Companies must clearly inform participants about how their data will be used as well as the purpose of the survey. Check your company’s GDPR policy to make sure your survey mail-outs are fully compliant before you press ‘send’!

Use a clear email subject line

You need a great subject line to entice your customers. In today’s world customers are bombarded with emails and the competition is ever increasing. A subject line that draws the customer’s attention is the first step – it must be clear and concise.

Trialling different email subject lines and determining how it affects your response rate is a great way to determine the most effective subject line. With the majority of respondents now using mobile devices to complete surveys, this needs to be considered. Most mobile phones only display the first six or seven words of a subject line, so keep it short and sweet.

Make sure your email is coming from a legitimate address.

Your customers may not even open your email if they don’t recognise the email address or company name. Make sure these are displayed clearly so your customer knows the email is coming from a legitimate source and that they can trust you, the sender.

Test your email

When you send your invitations, you want them to land in the recipient’s main inbox, rather than being lost amongst junk or spam mail or even blocked entirely. This way there is a much greater chance they will be seen and responded to.

There are numerous online tools that can be used to test your invitation and make sure that it is configured correctly and that it will be recognised as a legitimate email. Your email will be assessed on a variety of important factors such as the html content, language, inclusion of unsubscribe options, validity of DKIM signatures, verification of IP addresses and plenty more.

If your tests come back with low scores then respond to the issues identified and continue to test until they have been fully resolved.

Test sending it to a range of common email clients such as Outlook, Gmail and others to see how the invitation will display for recipients and again make any changes if required.


Personalisation is absolutely key when sending out a survey invitation. Tailor the invitation to include the customer name and make your email relevant to a specific purchase, product or experience where possible. A customer is far more likely to respond if they can recall a specific interaction in their mind.

Similarly, if you sign-off the email with the name and job title of someone from your organisation, for example the Head of Customer Experience or someone else who will be recognisable to recipients, it will help to reinforce the legitimacy of the invitation. It also demonstrates that there is someone within the business who is responsible and accountable for the service being provided to customers.

Explain the survey's purpose

Respondents are more likely to fill in a survey when they know its purpose. Inform your targets how the results will be used – for instance, to provide better service in the future or improve product quality – and guarantee the data won’t be used outside of your company.

Make sure that you include all relevant information regarding privacy policies, company details etc. and link to these so that customers can be reassured as to their rights, how their data will be used and what to do if they have any questions.

Inform your respondent

Let your customer know exactly how long the survey will take.  This lets the respondent know what to expect once they start – this will also minimise people dropping off halfway through completion. It can also be helpful to create urgency with a deadline or send reminders to increase response rates.

Embed the first question into your email

The first question of your survey should be embedded into your email so when the respondent clicks, it takes them through to the beginning of the online survey in their browser.  

This gives your respondents a taste of the survey by letting them respond to the first question in your survey right there from their email client - NPS is a popular first question choice for this but any metric question works well.

Make sure the first question and any buttons that take the recipient through to the survey are prominent in the invitation and positioned towards the beginning. Having extensive preamble ahead of the survey links can result in lower click-through and completion rates.


If you have decided to offer incentives, make sure any rules or requirements are explained clearly in your survey invitation. An incentive could be in the form of cash, loyalty points or a gift card but can come in many different ways.

It’s worth noting that incentives are by no means a necessity to online surveys and can sometimes cause biased data – respondents who are only in it for the incentive may rush through the survey and not give much consideration to their answers.

How you communicate the incentive on offer is important as this is another factor that could be flagged when testing your email. Always review the test results and adjust the language used accordingly.

When to send

Once the invitation has been designed and fully tested, an important step to consider is when will be the best time to send the invitation. In many situations sending invitations as close to the experience as possible will help to generate higher response rates and there will be greater recall of specific events, leading to more focused feedback.

It is however important to test different days of the week and times of day as different customer types will respond in different ways. Many studies point to Tuesday and Thursday mornings generating the highest open and click-through rates, with Friday evenings and weekends often leading to the lowest rates.

Every audience will be different so it is important to test upfront and be agile in responding to the data you receive and tweaking the contact strategy as you go.

Unsubscribe options

It is essential to be considerate of the fact that customers won’t always want to receive your email communications. Customers must be provided with unsubscribe links so that they can remove themselves from future survey invitations and that there is a robust process for maintaining this list so that it can be referenced prior to any subsequent mail-outs.

For more help or ideas with designing your CX survey please contact Mark Barrett:

“Listening to customers can identify opportunities, avoid mistakes and positively impact word of mouth...”

Mark Squires, Chief Executive - Watermelon

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