“You can’t get there from ‘ere!” (yes in fact you can)
Let’s assume for now that the survey itself is going to be entirely online, (yes there IS still a place for paper surveys, but I’ll discuss that in another post).
There are three primary ways to let people know about your survey:
- Individual and personal emails and links (but only if the survey is run externally)
- General internal online communication channels; online bulletin boards, internal web sites, internal communication software and apps (so so)
- Physical communication channels; physical bulletin boards, leaflets, and other non-personalized physical invitations (a last resort unless you’re running an external / public / customer survey)
What are you thinking about when choosing which is best?
- How do I get the invitation and survey link only to the people that I want?
- How do I ensure that everyone I do want has easy access to the survey?
- How do I prevent someone from filling the survey out multiple times? (the current record I’ve seen is 5)
- How will I know where I’m at mid-stream re completion rates overall and by groups?
- How can I send reminders that only go to those who have not filled it out?
As physical communication channels satisfy none of these, let’s say you’ve decided that personalized emails and links or internal communication channels are the way to go.
General internal communication channels: (“Yes sir. This IS the best bad idea we have.”)
Pros are this is very easy to run and set up, you can filter access to the survey to a degree, and this is the way to go if you are running the survey internally.
Cons are everything else:
- anyone and their cat can fill the survey out as many times as they like (I’ve seen as many as 5, that I’m aware of)
- there’s no way to track demographics without asking them directly in the survey
- they can’t re-enter the survey if it’s half-complete
- you can’t add or remove individuals if needed
- and you can’t send individual, personalized reminders.
Again you’ll have to use this method if you are running the survey internally – but or if you DO use company emails for an internal survey, then you’ll need to go with one common link for everybody. (More on that in the next post.)
You might also have to use this method in cases where some or all respondents either don’t have their own email, or don’t have access to a computer. (In the latter case we’ve used “kiosk” terminals to take care of that).
Personalized email invitations: (“The best of the best of the best, sir!”)
You’ve probably figured out by now that I’m leaning toward individual, personalized emails with personalized links as the best option, and you’re right. This method – if you can do it as it requires an external third-party – is better in SO many ways:
- You can laser-focus the sendout to exactly the people you’d like to respond.
- It prevents multiple submissions.
- If you need to add or remove an individual mid-way though you can do that.
- It allows the respondent to return to the survey and edit/complete later, (IF you want to allow that).
- You can track responses not just overall but by whatever demographics you can ask in the survey or already have on hand.
- Because you can track by, say, department or location, you can notify the head of that group as to how their people are doing and perhaps suggest they have a chat.
- You can send personal reminders ONLY to those who have not completed the survey – (though try to avoid any “we know who you are” language).
But “Hey” you say, “Why can’t I just use personalized emails and links if I run the survey internally?”
I’ll get to that next in “Pros and cons of running the survey internally vs using an external provider.“