What if you could implement one or two best practices and see immediate improvements in responses to your emailed survey invitations?

Sounds too good to be true? It’s not!


Nobody likes them. People often see them as a waste of time.

Getting people to take time out of their busy schedules is almost as difficult as asking them to say what they love about their jobs. The difference is they would gladly pick the later over the former more often than not.

Why do people hate surveys so much? It’s simple: they don’t see what is in for them, they are time-consuming, and it doesn’t help that most survey designs seem impersonal.

Anyone who has experience with designing and drafting survey invitation emails knows that it’s no easy feat. You may spend days designing and tweaking your customer feedback form until you think it is perfect, only to end up with minimal responses, leaving you with a 5 – 10% open and response rate.

How to create the perfect survey invitation email

Your invitation’s design is just as important as your questionnaire, customer feedback form, client feedback form or even your customer satisfaction form. It’s what gets people in the door to tick those boxes. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of best practices in putting together a better design to yield eye-opening results.

1. Notify your audience

Having an excellent survey invitation email design is no use if you have no one to collect data from. A great way to get people interested is to notify them so they can look out for it. Make sure to answer questions like:

  • Why you are collecting the data
  • Why you selected them and what the data will be used for
  • When or how soon they should expect the survey

Notification of Forthcoming Survey Invitation Email

OK, You may don’t need that lengthy legal disclaimer, but if you play at a serious corporate level, you have to consider something like GE used.

2. Use a Survey Invitation email template

If you don’t have much experience building or inviting people to take a survey, or if you would like to get the best possible results without much hassle, I would suggest using a template. This will save time and avoid constant testing and tweaking. There are various templates available over the internet, such as:

Client feedback template
Customer feedback template
Survey invitation template
Email Questionnaire template
Survey reminder

If you found the best, you can use Chamaileon’s email importer and drag’n’drop editor to edit the template, change the text and replace the images in minutes. Try it for free >>

3. Pay Attention to your Subject Line

Your subject line is the first thing your respondents see and it can either get you the data you need or have your respondents ignore your email altogether.

  • “Please take our survey”
  • “We want to hear from you”
  • “We want to know what you think”

Chances are you must have seen any or all of the above subject lines at one time or the other but did you open the email? If I were to guess, I would say no. Why? Those subject lines are clichés and respondents can smell them a mile away. Check out our best practices for subject lines and get improved open rates on your emails.

Like I mentioned earlier, respondents are not willing to waste their precious time, but they will open the email if they believe it is unique. The only way to get their attention is through the subject line, so pay a lot of attention to it.

A few pointers are:

  • Create a sense of urgency – “Do it now!”
  • Make them curious – “You should open this email to…”
  • Include any incentives in the subject line – “Win a free…”

Crafting a good subject line is great, but you must also consider the devices it will be viewed on. For instance, a good number of your respondents will see your email on their mobile phones. It is advisable to stick to short subject lines, preferably six to seven words. Take a look at how Artifact Uprising designed an engaging email with an engaging subject line: “Have A Moment?”


4. Avoid the spam folder at all costs!

All your hard work can quickly go down the drain if your email somehow finds its way to the spam folder. So how do you avoid it?

One of the ways to keep your survey invitation email out of spam is by excluding certain trigger words from your subject and introduction, as some email clients are programmed to filter such trigger words. Some of those words are Free, Money, 100%, Cheap, Offer, Lowest Price, Dear Friend, Bonus, Congratulations!, etc. There are hundreds of them, so do your research to make sure you don’t end up in the spam folder.

Another way is to make sure your company email is easily recognizable at a glance. There are two ways to send a company email: Either from the company name or from an employee’s name, preferably a high-level employee, as this conveys more authority.

You can see in the image below how Mention.com did it earlier this year.

mention.com survey invitation sender example

5. Don’t try to fool the respondents

You may have good intentions, but people consider filling these polls or studies to be a waste of time, so don’t try to trick them. Get straight to the point: tell what you need and why you want them to take your survey.

Don’t say that your survey will take 5 minutes if it’s really more than 10 minutes. Also, don’t promise incentives if you don’t have any to give. Nothing worse than making your customers feel cheated.

Lastly, don’t forget to respect the privacy of your respondents. Be sure to tell them how the data will be used. You may heard the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) earlier this year, you are required to tell people how you intend to use their data, therefore, include an easy-to-comprehend privacy disclaimer. I recommend creating a landing page with a more detailed privacy policy.

There could be multiple laws you need to take into consideration in different countries.
Please read our article about spam law and email privacy around the globe if you want to keep your emailing legal.

6. Provide a deadline

Will my customers or clients still fill out my customer feedback form if I state a deadline in my email? Yes! Research shows that providing a deadline improves the responses considerably, as respondents are more likely to take the survey or save it for later if a little pressure is applied.

Don’t be uneasy about stating a deadline. It works all the time.
State your deadline in your notification email and survey invitation email. Don’t forget to send reminders too.

An eye-catching option is adding a countdown timer to your email. Learn more about how to do that accurately.

7. Offer incentives (Optional)

Like it says in the subject line, this is optional. You shouldn’t stress over it if it’s something you can’t afford. If you can, you may consider it, but please note that incentives might lead to biased responses, as people may take a survey that is not relevant to them just to get the incentive. What’s the solution? Offer action-influenced incentives such as sharing your questionnaire. Perhaps you might want to consider a non-monetary incentive too.

Survey Invitation Email with Incentives by emailonacid

A sample of Survey Invitation Email with Incentives by Emailonacid.

8. Use Branded Surveys

The importance of your email design or template cannot be overemphasized. A good subject line will get your respondents to open your email, but it is a well-designed invitation that will get your respondents actually to take your survey. A simple, but effective design usually does the trick.

In addition to a simple, yet, great design, your email should be branded. Branded emails are said to have a higher open rate as people are more likely to trust a company than an individual, as company-branded emails convey professionalism and credibility. This should include logo and brand colors.

branded nps survey from intercom
Image source: reallygoodemails

Intercom did it well. They changed the color scheme and they placed a BIG logo into the survey email.

9. Personalize and optimize your survey invitation email

Personalized customer or client feedback surveys have a higher chance of getting a response. Just because it’s from a company doesn’t mean it has to be boring. People are more likely to open an email if it’s addressed to them, rather than “Dear Friend” or “Dear Customer”.

Also, while you are personalizing, make sure your email is designed to be responsive on all devices. In this mobile and digital era, more than 70% of your clients will view your email via mobile phones. They will quickly lose interest if the message doesn’t appear correctly on their mobile phones.

I would suggest using an HTML template that’s responsive for mobile. At Chamaileon, we have a bunch of them, or you can create your own in minutes.

Optimized Customer Feedback Survey

10. Use a Button with a catchy Call to Action

Colors like red, blue, green, orange, and yellow stand when used as a button in an email or web page. While the high-contrast button may get their attention, it’s CTA phrase that will get them to click.

See how Withings prompts respondents to take their questionnaire in just 2 minutes. Would I take that questionnaire? Absolutely. It’s only 2 minutes of my time.

High contrast button in Withings's survey invitation email
Image source: reallygoodemails

11. Keep it short and sweet!

Can a survey be too long? Absolutely! Any survey that is over 10 questions is too long. A classic way of shooting yourself in the foot is designing a great survey invitation email with an engaging subject line and a catchy call to action (CTA), but a survey that is way too long.

It also works vice versa: don’t make the invitation email too long. Most people will likely lose interest and abandon the survey mid-way through.

Consider including a progress bar in your survey design. This indicates how far they have gone. Also, include a save option, which allows them to keep their progress and complete the survey later.

If you put questions in the email itself, stick to a maximum of three.

Don’t waste the respondent’s time and yours too by asking questions you already know the answers to. Keep it short, simple, and relevant.

12. Consider a one-question micro survey

This is every respondent’s dream. One question and it’s all over. Like I mentioned earlier, people don’t have the time to answer these questions.

A large percentage of unopened survey invitations are in everyone’s email. One trick to getting a high response rate on, for instance, a customer feedback email or client feedback email is to keep it short.

One question will do the trick.

The best part is being one question, you can embed it within the email, rather than redirect participants to a landing page.

You can also use this method to get your customers or clients started on your 10 question questionnaire. All email clients only allow the embedding of one question within the email. You can get them started by embedding the first question and redirecting them to the remaining 9 with a CTA button.

A sample customer feedback email from Uber
Image credit: Uber

13. Know your audience

Before you begin designing your email invitation, you must first understand your audience and their behaviors. This will help with crafting questions and also selecting optimal times to send your questionnaire, so it doesn’t get lost in the millions of emails in their inbox.

If your questionnaire is work-related or is focused on a work product, the ideal time to send is during work hours between Tuesday and Thursday, while non-work related questionnaires can be sent during work hours or over the weekend.

Knowing your audience also involves going through and filtering your email list. Create segments based on something you know about your list — gender, experience with your product, etc.

14. Check the format and flow of your design

Once you are done with the design, check the format and flow of the questions. The questions you should ask yourself are:

  • Does it make any sense?
  • Are the questions arranged properly?

Create variations and perform A/B testing on colleagues, friends, and family.

15. Make room for questions from your respondents

Before you end your questionnaire, make sure there is a field for respondents to ask questions or give feedback if they want to. It’s a two-way street, after all, you don’t want them to feel like you are taking from them and not giving them anything in return.

SeeSo did it nicely, and there are multiple options in their email to feedback.


16. Follow up

Just because you didn’t get the desired responses on your customer feedback email doesn’t mean you should give up. Follow up with those that haven’t responded. Send multiple reminder emails. A nice trick is to change the subject line. Perhaps another one will appeal to your audience better.

17. Give your respondents the opportunity to share

Another way to increase responses is to have a share option on the last page of the questionnaire. This obviously depends on what kind of survey it is. If it is a customer or client feedback survey, it’s not very likely that your respondent would be able to share it.

Image credit: reallygoodemails

However, if it is a general or generic survey, respondents would be able to share with their family or colleagues easily. You may also want to influence this action by offering incentives to those who share the survey. Don’t overdo it though, offer incentives from time to time and not all the time.

18. Say thanks!

Lastly, don’t forget to say thank you. A sure way to get your respondents to engage next time is to thank them properly. Some examples:

“Thank you for taking our customer feedback questionnaire.”
“Thank you for taking your time to take our 5-minute survey.”
“Thank you, you have been very helpful!”

Of course, since this will happen after the survey, the Thank You email will be a separate email altogether.

Note: If you still haven’t found an example that you like and that you want to use in your campaigns, you can take a look at our email template collection with professionally designed email templates. You can use this free email template designer, builder, and editor to easily add your own images and text.

How to add a survey to an email?

Before we just jump into the best practices, we will you show to add a survey to an email. There are two most common ways that are used from the examples in this article:

  • The one-click survey in an email with multiple response links embedded to an email
  • Button with a link to a survey

Here are steps on how to add a quick survey with one-click answer in an email with embedded response links:

  1. Create an email in your email editor with the question with all the possible answers in the email copy
  2. Create your survey in a Google form or use similar tools specialized for surveys – try Interact
  3. Click ”Get prefilled link” (link of the response) in the survey form, select the response and then click ”Copy link”
  4. Add the link of the response you copied in your email in the text of the same response
  5. Repeat this step for every answer

You can watch a tutorial video here.

Here are steps on how to create a survey email with a button with a link to a survey:

  1. Create an email with the copy asking the recipient to participate in a survey and a CTA button
  2. Create your survey in a Google form or use specialized tools for surveys
  3. Click ”Send” in the survey, copy the link and add it in your email to a button or a link in the email

Here is a video on how to do it.

Free survey invitation email templates

If you still haven’t found an example or a template that you can use in your campaigns or just don’t have any inspiration, we designed the following survey invitation email template that you can use in your email campaign.


You can access this template in our email template collection for free.

Last Words

As you can see, a lot goes into designing a survey invitation email and even a survey. Employ these best practices for your email design and you will undoubtedly see improved opening and response rates.
Good luck!