CAWI Online Surveys Best Practices


  • Introduction screen: Introduce your online survey to respondents with an explanation of why the questionnaire is being conducted, and the approximate total duration.

  • Prototype: Prior to general release of your online survey, test the survey with several people using different browsers, different screen sizes, and different devices (iOS & Android). Make note of the testers’ general impression of the survey, in addition to any technical items they may mention. 

  • Use a proportionate quantity of respondent email invitations: A good rule of thumb is to test the waters with the exact number of responses you require, e.g., if you want 1000 completes, send 1000 emails and measure the response rate. Then calculate how many total emails you’ll need to send. 

  • Invitation email batches: Send email invitations in batches to give your respondents some time to respond, so as to not over-saturate the field and risk locking out respondents due to exceeded quotas. Review these guides to learn how: 
    Setup Connectors - How To Setup CAWI Email Connectors
    Setup Email Template - How To Design Your CAWI Email Template

  • Reminders: Track individual response status and be prepared to send reminder emails to potential respondents. Use SurveyToGo’s built-in functionality for sending reminders based on respondent status. 

  • Quality Control & Flagging: Implementing SurveyToGo quality control and automatic flagging is highly recommended since the respondents will not be monitored by a surveyor. Suggested items include: min/max duration, specific individual question duration, straight-lining, and free text answers below a minimum number of characters.
    Review this guide to learn more - How To Use Quality Control Flagging

  • GDPR Considerations: If you are collecting information about EU citizens, pay attention to GDPR rules. See: SurveyToGo and GDPR

  • Look & Feel: Consider altering the look and feel of your online survey using one of our options:
  • Link types: Decide whether to use Access-All links, Unique links, Panels or Non-Panels, or a combination of these options.
    Review our guide to learn more: How To Create CAWI Respondent Links
  • Pre-filled answers: Pre-filling answers through the use of SurveyToGo respondent list columns or query string parameters will make for a more efficient interview experience. 

  • Quotas: Decide whether to use specific quotas using SurveyToGo Quota Sheets, or a general quota using CAWI settings. read more on our Quota Management in this guide: Quota Management in SurveyToGo
  • Mixed mode surveys: Consider using the SurveyToGo IsPlatform function during scripting to affect survey behavior based on the platform it is running on. 
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