Best practice: Online survey distribution

27 July 2018

Distributing online surveys via email has become the most common way to reach an audience. While emailing itself is an easy method, professional survey systems provide more sophisticated options to help you achieve your desired results. Here’s what you need to know about the two most important ones.

<1/> Open survey distribution

Open survey distribution boosts the organic reach of your surveys.

A survey is shared with anybody through one identical URL link, which is universal, public, and therefore anonymous. In the Nfield Online survey system, you copy the URL of the survey and paste it as a link directly into the email you send out.

The simplicity and uniformity of this link allows you to:

However, these two opportunities also mean you lose the control of the survey’s distribution. You can’t send out a reminder because you don’t know all the recipients it’s reached, or who has already completed the survey. The absence of tracking has one other major implication: a recipient can do the survey more than once.

Please note that the open distribution method is best used for surveys with a limited email list.

Tip Tip

<2/> Closed survey distribution

Closed survey distribution gives you more control.

A survey is shared though a set of URL links only with known recipients. Each URL link has a different unique ending which corresponds to a different individual recipient invited to take the same survey. In professional market research, these unique endings are known as respondent keys.

This system of unique links enables you to monitor the survey activity of every recipient. This means you also know what is happening throughout the entire recipient pool, so you can send out appropriate reminders at every stage to those who:

Nfield Online prevents recipients from responding more than once to the same survey’s questions. In the case of recipients who started but did not yet complete the survey, it also enables you to send them a reminder which takes them directly to the point where they stopped. All this results in clean and more credible survey data.

Because of these specifics, closed surveys cannot be distributed through any other channel. You always need an email list that is big enough to satisfy the survey’s requirements. In many cases, the company’s customer database is perfectly sufficient. But when it isn’t, the solution for professional market researchers is to use the services of sample providers.

Respondent keys

A respondent key is a random combination of characters and/or numbers added to the end of the survey link. It’s this combination which makes each survey link unique, even though it points to the same survey. This uniqueness enables Nfield Online to identify recipients and ensure that only those who were directly invited can participate in the survey.

Note Note

A respondent key can only be used once within the same survey. Never two or more times, as that would affect the monitoring. However, it’s possible to re-use a respondent key for more than one survey.

Sample providers
Sample providers administer extensive databases of individuals who at some point agreed to participate in surveys. Their databases usually contain basic sociodemographic data by which email lists are filtered. Sample providers also perform more detailed and time-consuming pre-selection of individuals according to survey requirements.
Thanks to unique respondent keys, once a survey project is finished, market researchers can inform their sample providers about which recipients didn’t start the survey or unsubscribed from the email list. This information is very important for a good email reputation and the privacy rights of recipients.
In addition to the administration of contact databases, sample providers incentivize recipients to participate in surveys. Respondents are typically redirected by Nfield Online to the sample provider’s website after completing the survey.  

Don’t miss: Email reputation

Even when you use Nfield Online to send your survey invitations to a contact list, it doesn’t necessarily mean all your invitations will arrive in their intended inboxes. As with any other marketing and sales emailing activity, the distribution of surveys through email is inspected under a set of rules known as email reputation. These rules decide whether the email is successfully delivered to inboxes, diverted into spam folders or blocked.

Email reputation directly affects the success of your online research, so make sure you find out everything you need to know in our two articles:

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