Accelerant Research recently conducted a survey on the subject of survey invitations to identify the most and least invasive ways for insights organizations to solicit feedback.  Participants were asked to rate a series of outbound survey invitation methods on a 10-point scale where 1 was “Completely Unacceptable” and 10 was “Completely Acceptable.”

Recent changes to the FCC’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) have been a very hot topic among research and polling firms in recent months, and rightfully so. Second to only door-to-door research (57% of consumers find door-to-door completely unacceptable), telephone invitations – particularly robocalls (44% completely unacceptable to mobile phone; 43% completely unacceptable to landline) – are viewed by consumers as the least acceptable means to contact participants for research studies. Telephone survey invitations from a live operator are perceived as less invasive than robocalls (40% completely unacceptable to mobile; 35% completely unacceptable to landline), and calls to a landline are more acceptable than to a mobile phone, in general. A far less invasive means to reach survey participants via mobile phone is text messaging (26% completely unacceptable).

Although more acceptable than telephone calls, door-to-door, or intercepts while dining at a restaurant, invitations via either social media or downloaded app direct messaging and online pop-up ads are viewed as completely unacceptable by one in three consumers (33% and 32%, respectively).  Somewhat less invasive are intercept interviews (either in-aisle at a retailer or exit interviews at restaurants/retailers).  Fewer than one in five consumers perceive these methods as completely unacceptable (18% for both).

The least invasive means to solicit survey feedback are via US Mail, point-of-sale printed receipts, and email invitations. Fewer than 5% of consumers find any of these methods to be completely unacceptable.

As always, the corporate insights manager must weigh the pros and cons when selecting a methodology for a given research study.  However, tradeoff examinations are often related only to study costs and timing.  It is important to also consider to what extent you are inconveniencing your participants --particularly when you are conducting research among existing customers where your brand is identified as the research sponsor.  Prior to moving forward with any research method, you should understand the method’s legal implications.  For example, if you are sending out text message survey invitations to customers, it is vital to make sure that all recipients have properly opted-in to receiving such invitations.  Make sure that you (or the research supplier you are partnering with) are compliant with the latest TCPA rules, as well as other federal or state regulations.

Finally, it is always important to also understand which survey method will allow you to reach your desired sample size.  While US mail and POS receipt print methods are far less invasive, their conversion rates can also be lower than other methods.  That is to say, in some cases, you have no choice but to use a more invasive survey method in order to complete your study.  However, when doing so, always be sensitive to your participants’ time and convenience.
About the Study: Using its proprietary Agora USA consumer insights panel, Accelerant Research conducted this survey among a demographically representative sample of 1,741 Americans 18 years of age or older.