Do Personalized Salutations in Text Messages Lead to Higher Response Rates? Results from an Experiment

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 10:06
Location: Hörsaal 26 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Chiara RESPI, Università di Milano-Bicocca, Dipartimento di Sociologia e Ricerca Sociale, Italy
Emanuela SALA, Universita di Milano Bicocca, Italy
The way we contact potential respondents plays a key role on survey participation. This is also true in Web surveys. Investigating the impact of different contact modes on response, a number of studies found that important response outcomes depend on the mode(s) eligible respondents were contacted. However, there is very little knowledge on the impact of other survey features, such as type of salutations, on survey response and data quality. For example, research by Heerwegh (2005) and Joinson and Reips (2005) found that personalization of e-mail salutations significantly increases response rate when surveying university students. This paper aims to further explore the role of different salutation types (personalized vs. neutral) on response and measurement error. Our hypothesis is that personalized salutations are positively associated with key indicators of response and data quality. We use experimental data from a national Web survey of Italian graduates in Social Work carried out in late 2013/early 2014. In our experiment, half of the sample was randomly assigned to the control group Neutral Salutations (“Dear graduate”), the other half to the treatment group Personalized Salutations (“Dear Name”). Using bivariate analysis and, when appropriate, multivariate modelling, in the paper we compare different indicators of response (i. e., response rates, response speed) and data quality (i. e., item non response, straighlining) for the two experimental groups. Preliminary analysis shows that personalized salutations are effective in improving response rates.