I'm guessing I'm not the only one that has been using web surveys more and more (I'm a big fan of SurveyMonkey), and we'll probably all do more in the future. That's why this recent bit of research by Dr. Thomas Archer is so valuable. It's titled, "Characteristics associated with increasing the response rates of web-based surveys" and it's based on results from 99 various web-based surveys over a more than two-and-a-half year period using Zoomerang.
The results were somewhat surprising (to me at least). The length of the questionnaire wasn't particularly important in terms of response rate. This included both the number of open-ended questions and the length of rating scales. Instead the challenge is getting people to the survey in the first place.
How do we do that? The author recommends several strategies:
1 - Leave the questionnaire open for a while (say, three weeks), and send out a couple reminders along the way.
2 - Pay attention to how you write your survey invitations. They should be written at a low grade level in terms of readability.
3 - Make it clear to survey participants "what's in it for them" (e.g., you'll get a copy of the results).
If you haven't played around with web-based surveys, I'd encourage you to. They're very easy to learn and typically inexpensive.
I'd be interested in seeing if anyone out there is using web-based surveys as part of their recruitment/assessment process? Seems like a natural fit.