Getting a better response rate

We recently received a fairly blistering e-mail blasting us for the relatively low response rate to this year's Annual Physician's Survey in Medical Meetings' January issue. Actually, we thought 16.6 percent was pretty good—of course, more would be better. Part of our struggle is that we send the survey to physicians, not the continuing medical education providers and medical/pharma meeting planners who read our magazine, so these guys don't know us from a hole in the wall.

I know we're not alone in our struggle to get higher response rates to surveys; I heard all kinds of grumbling about it at the Alliance meeting in January, but not a lot of solutions. One that I heard during a session on practical strategies for outcomes measurement was to include something lumpy in the envelope. The session leaders said that they had success with putting a piece of candy in the envelope along with the survey; they’ll open it just to see what the lump is. Once they open it, they’re somewhat engaged with it, and you have a better shot at them filling it out.

Any other ideas? We include a buck, but I doubt that's much of an incentive to fill the thing out (yes, we keep it short and sweet). Seriously, I think this is something we all struggle with, and if you have any solutions to share, that'd be terrific. Just drop a note in the comments section or shoot me an e-mail.

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