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What’s the best time to send a survey?

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As a survey tool, our users often ask us for the best time to send out survey email invitations. Which is the best day? Is there a specific time (morning, afternoon, evening) that is better? Is there a difference between B2B and B2C? Many interesting questions… There were plenty of opinions here around the office, but since we have much data on the subject, and our users send a lot of survey email invitations, we decided to let the data do the talking. As it turns out, Monday is D-Day for B2B businesses. B2C better avoid Thursdays and Sundays.

What does previous research tell us?

There is a lot of research already available on this topic. Unfortunately, most of the research is for marketing emails, not survey invitations. There is little consensus on this topic: some research indicates that Wednesday is the ideal day to send out a survey and another indicates that Monday is better. Some of the research is old and with more and more mobile respondents, things may have changed. The available research also doesn’t split the data by target audience (B2B, B2C) or any other useful indicator (like survey length). We could do better.

Our own research: data and approach

To find out the best time to send out surveys we used a sample of 1,500 surveys conducted with the CheckMarket Survey Tool with the following parameters.

  • Audience type
    • Business To Consumer (B2C) surveys.
    • Business To Business (B2B) surveys.
  • Length of interview (LOI)
    • Short surveys (<15 min)
    • Long surveys (>15 min)
  • Additional requirements
    • Recent data
    • Survey email invitations sent by our survey platform.
    • No reminders sent

We analyzed the relationship between the moment email invitations were sent out – both day and time – and the % of completed surveys. This data was further split up by type of survey (B2B/B2C) and survey length (≤15 minutes and > 15 minutes). As our clients often use reminder emails to increase the completion rate, we only included surveys completed before reminders were sent, in order to avoid biased results. Below you can find a summary table of the data we used.

B2BB2CTotal
Short survey
(≤ 15 min)
Long survey
(> 15 min)
Short survey
(≤ 15 min)
Long survey
(> 15 min)
Click Through Rate10,2%9,1%14,9%8,1%12,7%
Completion Rate9,6%8,3%12,7%7,6%11,1%

What’s the best day to send email invites?

Ideal_time_Graph1 * Data for B2B was removed due to too few email invitations

For B2B surveys, Monday is clearly the best day to get the highest amount of completes. For B2C there is not a single best day to send out: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays all lead to a relative high response rates and Thursdays and Sundays can better be avoided.

Size does matter

We also split this data by length of interview (≤ 15 minutes vs.> 15 minutes) to gain some additional insights. Let’s first take a look at B2B surveys:

Ideal_time_Graph2

Total amount of invites is lower than overall chart as for some surveys the average length wasn’t available
* Data for B2B was removed due to too few email invitations

The chart shows us that for short surveys Monday remains the best day. However, for longer surveys there is not one clear day that stands out: these can be sent on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and even Sunday with little difference in completion rates.

We did the same exercise for B2C surveys:

Ideal_time_Graph3

Total amount of invites is lower than overall chart because for some surveys the average length was unknown
* Data for B2B was removed due to too few email invitations

Splitting the B2C data by survey length leads to some really interesting insights. Whereas Tuesday is the best day for short B2C surveys, Wednesday and Friday are the best days for long surveys. Obviously, people need to take more time for longer surveys and Wednesdays and Fridays are usually typical days for part-time employees to be off and thus lead to higher availability to fill out extended surveys.

What’s the best time to send a survey email invite?

Ideal_time_Graph4 * Saturday, Sunday, 18:00 – 20:59, 21:00-23:59 removed because of too few email invitations

We already saw earlier that Monday is the best day to send email invitations for B2B surveys. Our data shows that Monday morning or later in the afternoon between 3 and 6 o’clock is a good moment to send out email invitations. Sending out on Monday between 12:00 – 14:59 should ideally be avoided. Possibly people are too occupied with work obligations around this time and are more likely to ignore the email (the Click Through Ratio is also much lower for this time).

Furthermore, sending out on Thursday and Friday between 15:00 and 17:59 is favorable, although we have to be careful here with drawing conclusions as the amount of invites are relatively low.

Ideal_time_Graph5 * Some data points were removed because of too few email invitations

For B2C surveys sending out between 18:00 and 20:59 generally works best, with Mondays being the exception. In the weekend, inviting people on Saturday between 15:00 and 17:59 and on Sunday between 21:00 – 23:59 also leads to a high completion rate.

Overview of the results

B2BB2C
Day to sendShort survey:
Monday
Long survey:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday
Short survey:
Tuesday
Long survey:
Wednesday, Friday
Time to sendMonday
0:00 – 11:59 & 15:00 – 17:59Thursday and Friday
15:00 -17:59
18:00 – 20:59

Some final remarks

It is important to keep in mind that the time you send out your survey is one among many factors that determine the response rate of your survey. The response rate also strongly depends on other factors like the email invitation (subject line, from name and body), and the first page of your survey (branding, incentive, first question). Also the quality of your contact list is crucial for the success of your survey. If this is a targeted audience that is engaged with the survey topic, the response rate will be much higher!

The results of our research gives a good indication on when to send out your survey. However, keep in mind that these results are based on the general population and what works for this population may not always work for your target audience. If using these general indications don’t lead to the desired response, we advise you to experiment with other timings using A/B testing. This can be done easily in the CheckMarket Survey Tool.

Please share your thoughts with us. Do these outcomes resonate with your experiences?

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7 comments

Join the conversation
  • Administer a Needs Survey - eTechnology BlogeTechnology Blog - March, 2017 reply

    […] Check Market’s research from 2014 covered both business to business and business to consumer surveys and invites.  For this post I will focus on business to business data: […]

  • Karrie - January, 2016 reply

    Regarding response rates related to time of day that survey invitations are sent, were any correlations done on time zone response rates? Were results adjusted for the time zone differences for when recipients receive the invite, versus when they are sent by the survey owner?

  • Achieving Success in Customer Engagement: When & How to Include Surveys in B2B Marketing - CommuniGator - January, 2016 reply

    […] to CheckMarket research, sending out a survey invite on a Monday works when connecting with B2B buyers. This is the time […]

  • Rook - January, 2016 reply

    This is extremely useful! I am planning a sub-15min intranet survey this week — guess I’ll hold off until Monday! Thanks for these tasty data-derived insights, Gert! You da real MVP!

  • Rebecca - March, 2015 reply

    Great to see some stats on this, thanks. Couple of questions, which country was this based in? Do you believe Australia would reflect similar? And what category/survey topics were in this analysis? A range? Thanks.

  • Willem Schrijver - February, 2015 reply

    Hi Patrick,

    Thanks for your comment. We used a balanced sample size that reflects the timing users send email invitations for which we were sure about the type (B2B, B2C), the size of the panel and other quality criteria. For B2B on Thursday and Friday between 15:00 and 17:59 we had respectively about 7,800 and 5,000 email invitations. It is not often done! But maybe it should be! That is a small sample which is why we mentioned in the article to be careful drawing conclusions based on these relatively low counts compared to the amounts in this time slot for other days.

    Have you seen similar results? Looking forward to your feedback.

  • Patrick - February, 2015 reply

    Interesting work, thanks for sharing your results. What are your sample sizes for, say, the Thursday and Friday 15-17:59 B2B email time slots, if you don’t mind sharing?

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