Should the third reminder be sent? The role of survey response timing on web survey results

Kumar Rao

The Nielsen Company

Julia Pennington

University of Tampa

Introduction

Non-participation in surveys is a major concern of survey researchers worldwide (Billiet et al. 2007). Ideally, researchers would like all survey invitees to respond, thereby achieving a 100% response rate. This goal, however, for all practical purposes, is impossible to achieve. Survey researchers expend considerable effort and resources to survey reluctant or hard-to-reach respondents so that non-response bias is minimised and the collected data are representative of the underlying population of interest. One such effort involves sending reminders, such as emails or postcards, to non-respondents in order to elicit a response. While some survey invitees respond with minimal survey effort (responding before the first reminder is sent), others respond only with a subsequent increase in efforts (requiring more than one reminder) or choose to not respond at all. The timing of a survey response, which is the point in time after the survey launch when the response is received before or after one or more reminders, is the focus of research in this study.