Of all the research activities I’ve done, the most challenging and time-consuming was always recruitment. When figuring out a timeline with product and engineering, my recruitment time was always variable. Now, I’m able to recruit people easily at a moment’s notice within 24 hours. I’d love to share what has worked through my trial and error.
I used to be a copywriter and product marketer before I moved on to do UX Research. However, I’ve found that writing to optimize for conversions and writing to optimize for someone’s time is a bit different. After all, asking for 15-30 minutes from a busy person can be difficult.
Improving the experience of asking a person for their time and feedback can also influence the likeliness they actually respond to you and help you. You, too, can beat the average email campaign benchmark of 20% opens and 2-4% clicks.
On Writing Emails
In the beginning, I tried to be direct and bold. My subjects read like:
- We Need You: Influence Our Next Big Thing
- Psst…Help Us With Our Next Big Feature
- We Want Your Opinion — Help Us Help You
And that didn’t work out well. It actually sucked. My stats looked like this:
Here’s what I did next to change that.
Changing the conversation from “help me” to “could this help you?”
I shifted my strategy after the first few emails I sent were unsuccessful. I started thinking about what I was really asking for — people’s time. And I realized that was a big ask for someone that was busy with back to back meetings or someone who only checks emails twice a day. So I decided to shift my focus towards how I could help them.
Now, I don’t do anything gimmicky or click-bait in my email subject line. I write as if I was asking a coworker or friend if they could do something for me. I think this is a simple and effective way of communicating because it doesn’t come off as bluntly,
Hey take this survey!
If you take this survey, you can be entered in a chance to win an iPad!
As someone who is working for pretty lean company, I usually have a budget of $0 for any sort of incentive for research. But that’s why us researchers can get creative with our recruitment.
Below are 3 emails that I’ve used with success (over 20 confirmed meetings within 24 hours consistently, over 50 after 48 hours) that you can use for recruiting people for you own studies. I’ve listed the context and strategies regarding how I approach them as well. You really only need at least 5 to get going, anyway.
Each email assumes that you’ve already identified the goal of your user study and the have identified people to reach out to. See my post here on how to gather a list of people reliably and fast.
Just replace whatever is in brackets [ ] to your own situation.
Template 1 — Recruit people after using analytics to verify their level of engagement
Doing quantitative sourcing for your users gives you a lot of information to go off on how often someone does something or the opposite — the lack of an activity. By using analytics to inform decisions, you’ll be able to target people for your interviews better, and the emails you send will contextually be appropriate because a person would remember just doing whatever you are asking about recently.
Subject: Could this new [FEATURE] help you?
We’re developing [IDEA] in [PRODUCT], and I’ve seen that you’ve used our current [FEATURE] extensively. I’d love let you see some early concepts of what we’re working on to get your feedback and to also let you influence our design. Basically, we want to see if what we have would actually help you do your job better.
If you’re interested and have 10-15 minutes to chat (I promise to keep the time!), reply back to this email with your choice of the times below that work for you. I’ll follow up with you to figure out what method is the best way for us to connect.
[EXAMPLE] Thursday, March 27th at 9AM PST
[EXAMPLE] Thursday, March 27th at 9:30AM PST
Thanks for reading this and helping us make things that help you get stuff done.
P.S. If none of these times work for you and you want to participate, just reply with whatever time works for you better =).
Template 2 — Recruit people after screening people out with a survey
I usually have a screener to generate research leads for myself so that I’m emailing people who I think are qualified or relevant to talk to. This helps me spend my time efficiently by talking to targeted people that are in the space and environment that I am trying to research. Also, the email someone receives also is a bit more expected. They know they answered a screener already so this email doesn’t seem out of the blue.
Subject: Want to see the new [FEATURE] wireframes?
I’m contacting you because you’ve recently completely a questionnaire regarding a new [FEATURE] in [PRODUCT[. Thank you for your help! We’re now ready to show you some wireframes and screenshot concepts of what we’ve built for [FEATURE]. You’d be one of the first people to see the concepts and eventually have access to your own [FEATURE].
If you’re interested in looking at these wireframes and providing feedback, please fill out the following form so that I can schedule a time to speak with you:
[LINK TO GOOGLE FORM WITH TIME SLOTS]
Thanks for your continued help. We’re excited to share with you what we have coming and hope to make it even better with your feedback.
Template 3 — Recruit people for general feedback/survey
Sometimes, the simplest emails get the best response. It makes you look human rather than some survey machine robot. Here I’m asking for general feedback through a survey that asks things like a NPS Survey which is usually asked like this:
“From 0-10, how likely would you recommend [PRODUCT] to a friend?”
Apple actually does this with their web support, in-person Genius Bar, and retail experience. After having interacting with an Apple employee for support or purchase, Apple will send you an email 7 days later to ask you to take a survey to rate your experience and also to fill out an NPS Survey.
Subject: I need your help for only 1 minute
I saw that you were using [PRODUCT] recently and wanted to hear what you think about it.
Could I get 1 minute of your time? It would mean a lot to me if you could just fill out this really short survey so we can know what you think of [PRODUCT].
[LINK — Go to the super short survey here.]
Thanks for your help.
P.S. Feel free to email me back if you have specific feedback, too!
Hope these email templates help you get started with having a conversation with your users. I personally only do remote research currently, but these can also be used to recruit people for in-person usability tests. I’m always tweaking my own copy to get better responses, but these seem to work pretty well so far. When you talk to your users, you’ll want to look out to see if the users fit all the design stories or jobs to be done you’re looking for. One risk of getting of so many so fast is that you may not end up with all the scenarios you’re looking to validate.
Let me know if you know of any other effective emails that you’ve sent. I’d love to try them out.
Check out more things I’ve learned on my blog.