International Journal of Social Research Methodology: Theory & Practice vol:8 issue:2 pages:85-99
Personalizing correspondence has often shown to significantly increase survey response rates in mail surveys. This study experimentally tests whether personalization of email invitations acts correspondingly to web survey response rates. Also, it is investigated whether personalization influences data quality. The results of the study, using a large student sample, show that personalization significantly increases the web survey response rate by 8.6 percentage points. The data quality does not appear to be affected in any major way by personalizing the email invitations. However, the analyses do show that respondents of the personalization condition tend to respond with more social desirability bias to sensitive questions. Therefore, it is concluded that personalization has positive effects on the survey response rate, but one should carefully consider whether or not to personalize when a survey on sensitive topics is conducted.