BASKING RIDGE, New Jersey: Although the funereal reputation of the first day of the working week wasn't helped by the Boomtown Rats' 1978 hit I Don't Like Mondays, US online polling specialist Lightspeed Research just loves that day when it comes to maximising response to online research.

According to the researcher, email questionnaires sent on a Monday afternoon get the best response rates (up to 39%) whereas Friday afternoon mailings garnered just 28%.

As part of its ongoing Research on Research program, the firm sent invitations over the course of a week to 7,440 respondents from its UK panel, inviting them to participate in an online survey.

The first twenty-four hours, it seems, give a good indication of the final response rate, with around two thirds of responses coming in during this initial period. If responses are low to begin with, they are unlikely to increase significantly over time.

Younger people with an active nightlife are unlikely to answer surveys on Saturday morning, whereas working mothers might best be targeted in the early afternoon before their children come home from school.'

Specific events are also likely to impact - and skew - the response. A major football game on a Wednesday night meant that only 11% of male invitees from the Wednesday 5.30pm invitation group responded to the survey, compared to 31% of women.

The study also showed that older panel members are more likely to respond to invitations, and tend to respond quicker than younger people.

Among the 18-24 age group, 9% responded within twelve hours of the invite being sent, with 14% taking 48 hours plus. Among the 55-65 age group, however, the figures were 29% and 22% respectively.

Lightspeed Research ceo David Day says these results show that research companies must "know their panellists well and take their lifestyle into consideration when planning surveys".

"Respondents are more likely to take part in a survey shortly after having received the invitation than keep it in their inbox and come back to it later," he continued.

"This does suggest that if the time for fieldwork is short, then deploying studies later in the week should be avoided . . . It also suggests it is important to understand if the 'missing' responders have a different set of characteristics."

Data sourced from (UK); additional content by WARC staff