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I'm looking for examples of emails for recruiting participants for tests or interviews. I felt my first drafts for the last time I recruited were somewhat impersonal.

So how do you write good emails?

And by good I mean that the emails feel like they are coming from a person who is really interested in your opinion; emails that let the recipients see that their input would be greatly valued.

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2 Answers 2

The correspondence with participants depends on a lots of factors. It is therefore quite hard to give a simple example of a recruitment email.

A concrete example:
If you take a look at page 54 (in chaper 5) in this online preview, you'll find an example of such an email. (From "Moderating Usability Tests" by Domas and Loring, (companion web site)).

Some additional information on the recruitment:
Recruiting participants is one of the most important phases you go trough when conduction usability tests. Without the right participants, the tests you perform can be a waste of time (or even worse - give you the wrong feedback).

"The Handbook of Usability Testing" by Rubin and Chisnell (companion web site) gives you a thoroughly walk-trough on the recruitment of participants. They have dedicated a whole chapter of their book to recruitment: Defining needs, characterizing user-groups/criteria, where to look for participants, the screening process, and follow-up.

You may be in touch with the potential participants 3-5 times:

  1. First an open advertisement or a direct invitation to a certain user-group.
  2. Then you send a confirmation to the participants that may fit your criteria, and ask them for a screening session.
  3. The screening is performed as an interview or as a questionnaire.
  4. Confirmation to the selected, best suited users.
  5. Follow-up and details due to the actual test session.
  6. Reminder (week before, day before).
  7. Debriefing and thanks after the session.

Now, when you have done some decisions on the requrements and recruitment process, the e-mail content is easier to produce. In your email, you may include something about:

  • What the testing is and the purpose of the test.
  • Requested information (job title, age, gender, phone etc). Don't include too much. Distinguish between contact information, rough selection and detailed screening.
  • Compensation for participating in the test.
  • Where and when.
  • Attach some additional information, forms or questionnaires, like NDAs and pre-session questionnaire to avoid to much work on the testing day.

Remember: Don't reveal too much information. Don't mention client or product. The participants may look things up and "prepare" themselves for the test.

General guideline:
Keep it formal and simple, and most important: Test the letter/email on other people to avoid spelling errors and ambiguous wording.

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While I like your answer, I think you're being a little assumptive about Roland; he's just asking about emails but you're suggesting he hasn't done the steps before the email part yet. We don't know that. –  Rahul May 31 '11 at 9:34
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Compensation for participating in the test. If you want people to show up - this is the important bit ! –  PhillipW May 31 '11 at 9:40
    
@Rahul: A concrete answer to the question was given in the last paragraph: elsevier.insidethecover.com/searchbook.jsp?isbn=9780123739339, page 54 –  Jørn E. Angeltveit May 31 '11 at 10:01
    
@JEA: Could you add the book blurb to the answer? It's a bit painful to use the Elsevier e-book widget. –  Zian Choy Jun 1 '11 at 0:53
    
Thx for your extensive answer, however I was really looking into examples to see how other writes emails, because I felt my draft was too impersonal. So I was looking for ideas. –  Roland Studer Jun 2 '11 at 16:38

It's difficult to give a blanket recommendation for writing successful recruitment emails. To remove the possibility of your email being perceived as spam, I've had the most luck when using personal network of contacts to recruit people. Bonus points if you work for a well-known company, as the brand recognition always helps.

For example, I'm currently recruiting participants for a project that's based in another country. Emailing my personal contacts helped me recruit the majority of my participants, whereas contacting random individuals that met my criteria via Twitter only recruited one additional person. Here's a sample of what I sent:

Hi there,

Hope all is well.

I apologize for the impersonal email, but... I'm trying to pin down some Canadian small businesses and, as I'm in the UK, I need to reach out to fellow Canadians for some help! It's worth $25 in Amazon.ca gift cards if you qualify. There's a possibility to earn a further $50 if you participate in a follow up study with yours truly. The link to the survey is here: http://ethn.io/xxxxx

Thanks so much,

Now my situation was unique because I happened to know some small business owners.

Another tactic that works well when sending emails is reciprocity: for a different project we ran an internal campaign where employees referred external people that qualified for the study. In this case, both the employee and participant would receive gift certificates for their help. Unfortunately for my study I didn't have a budget that allowed for that generosity!

Hope that helps!

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While this might work for some users, it looks like spam to me. –  Wousser Sep 21 '11 at 4:39
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As mentioned, I was sending this to personal contacts, and actually I had 8/10 people participate. So, it wasn't perceived as spam. –  Janel Sep 21 '11 at 9:59

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