Mail surveys were considered to be less expensive than telephone interviews and were popular for a while. However, the increased postage costs, need for multiple mailings, postage paid returns, and other respondent incentives have made mail research more expensive than telephone research for many samples.
Mail research may be effective if the target audience is well defined and committed to the research, if respondents who are geographically dispersed must see or use products, and if the information is difficult to obtain.
Usually, successful mail studies are used in combination with other data collection techniques (i.e. as a follow-up to telephone or personal interviews).
Panels can be developed for repeated mail contacts and longitudinal or multi-wave research.
Great Lakes Marketing uses mailed, self-administered surveys:
• When Postal addresses are the most accurate contact information.
• When the respondents should be given high levels of privacy or anonymity (i.e., satisfaction studies for health care or financial services).
• When the population is very committed to the survey sponsor and will respond (i.e., association members, employees, etc.).
Great Lakes Marketing conducts mail studies for several organizations whose research objectives and sample definitions match the above criteria. For example, we send thousands of questionnaires to family members whose loved one is in a nursing home. We design the studies to maximize the response rate by having a visually appealing survey design, relevant cover letter, known return address, etc.
We also analyze data for other organizations who send or hand out surveys but do not have the ability to do the data processing, analysis and reporting.