In a mail survey, the questionnaire is sent to the respondents along with an introductory letter about the survey and a business-reply envelope in which they can return their answers, free of charge.
This method is first and foremost used if the questionnaire is very long or complex (too long or complex for a telephone survey).
Its greatest advantage is that the respondents can answer the questions in their own time, whenever it suits them. Also rather complex instructions can be given and graphics can be used if needed.
The response rate in a mail survey can be on the low side although that entirely depends on the group in question. It is important to always follow the survey up with a reminder, whether it is by letter, telephone or by resending the questionnaire to those that had not responded. This can be very time consuming and costly if it proves difficult to persuade the respondents to respond. There are ways to improve the response rate, for example by including a lottery or other form of incentive for returned questionnaires.
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