Brand Awareness Survey: Customized Survey Invitation
This is the last post in a series of blog entries on how to plan out and execute a brand awareness research project. Last week, I shared 2 brand awareness survey invitation templates. This week, I will explain how to use the mail merge functionality to send a customized survey invitation to multiple target respondents at the same time.
Many of today’s free survey tools do not contain a mail merge capability. Some survey tools offer this service through partner vendors at a small cost and others just recommend using Microsoft Outlook’s mail merge functionality to send out survey invitations. This post explains how to use Microsoft Outlook to send out customizable survey invitations to as many target respondents as you want.
Below are step by step instructions on how to set-up and utilize Microsoft Outlook’s mail merge functionality:
1. Start Word. This will enable you to access the mail merge commands in Outlook.
2. Construct the survey invitation in a Word document and save the file, but keep it open. For 2 examples on how to write a brand awareness email invitation, refer to my previous post.
3. Organize an Excel File with all of the target respondents and key information that you would like to customize in your email. Below is an example of a template with some of the more commonly customized fields. Please note that Word generates an e-mail message for each record when you perform a mail merge, so you must organize the file so that there is no more than one contact per row.
4. Now add the customized variable fields into the email invitation that you wrote in Word. To add a mail merge field, enclose the field name in chevrons (“«»”) as follows: “«Greeting»”.
5. Go to the Mailings tab in the Microsoft Word ribbon and select the Start Mail Merge Email Messages option.
6. Now, go to the Mailings tab in the Microsoft Word Ribbon and choose the “use existing list” option under Select Recipient and navigate the file search mechanism to identify the Survey Respondent file that you put together in step 2.
7. Sometimes Word has a hard time identifying mail merge variables in the recipient list data sources, so it is a good practice to map the mail merge fields to the columns in your recipient list data source. To do so, click on Match Fields in the Write & Insert Fields group of the Mailings tab.
8. Now go to the Mailings tab on the Microsoft Word Ribbon and click Send Email Messages under the Finish & Merge sub-heading. Now assign the target respondent email address field as the to email address and add the subject to the title field.
9. Now select HTML as the format type.
10. After that go to the Mailings tab and select look over the email using the preview results button and make sure that the mail merge is working as planned by glancing over the first few survey respondents.
11. Before sending a mail merge, it is always a good practice to send a test email to yourself to make sure the mail merge is working as planned.
12. Now you are ready to send the email. To do so, just push send.
Please note that the email address that you send the invitation from can drastically affect the results of your survey, so make sure to put some thought into which email address to use. This is one of the first pieces of information that the recipients see when they receive an email and making a poor decision can cause your response rates to drop substantially.
Using a mail merge also provides a great way to track respondents and also easily A/B test titles and approaches, as all of the customized information that you sent to each respondent is tracked in an Excel file that can be easily analyzed. This will allow you to find the approach and titles that yield the highest response rates, so that you can optimize your invitations for future rounds of the brand awareness survey.
Now that you know how to write a customized survey invitation, you are ready to plan-out and launch a brand awareness study for your company. Best of luck!