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How To Recruit Participants For SMS Surveys

By Elyse Desmarais on March 1, 2016

Panel Recruitment Methods

Recruiting survey participants can seem like a daunting task. Here at Instant Census, we have experience in panel recruitment and always offer to help our customers with recruiting survey participants. If you don’t already have a survey participant panel on-hand and are not interested in purchasing a panel from a 3rd party sample provider for upcoming SMS surveys, here are some panel recruitment methods we’ve seen work well for our customers.

Recruiting New Participants Through Survey Phone Number Promotion

1. Advertisements

Advertisements featuring survey phone numbers, opt-in instructions and study details are a great way to recruit participants if you don’t have an established panel on-hand. In the past, Instant Census customers have had success recruiting participants through advertising survey numbers on public transit.

2. Social Media

Social media can be a powerful recruiting tool for the proper use cases. Our customers have seen great results using Facebook and Twitter to recruit new survey participants by sharing survey phone numbers and opt-in instructions in posts. Social media offers several advantages, the most valuable being the ability to reach large audiences in a short amount of time and post as many recruiting messages as you want at any time of the day - all for very little cost.

4. Events

Interested in running a survey and displaying live results during a conference or large event? Looking to solicit feedback from event attendees regarding their experience? Instant Census customers have recruited conference and large event audiences into our surveys by publicizing survey phone numbers on visual presentations, event signage, and through speaker instruction. SMS surveys not only allow you to solicit important feedback from attendees, but also to engage with audiences and create an interactive experience.

Recruiting From An Established Panel or Audience

1. Phone Surveys

Phone surveys are a great medium to use for recruiting participants into SMS surveys. If you have an upcoming phone survey using an established panel, you can add a question to the end of the survey asking participants for consent for future SMS surveys. You could also run a phone survey specifically for the purpose of obtaining and recording consent.

2. Email Marketing and Surveys

Some Instant Census customers have sent email marketing campaigns advertising survey phone numbers to established audiences, but results for this method can vary. The advantages of this medium are you can send multiple emails for little cost and optimize them to be sent at specific times of day for the highest open rates.

You could also use email surveys for a recruitment method similar to mail and phone surveys. By simply adding a question regarding consent to an email survey, you can obtain and record opt-ins.

3. Web Forms

If you’re hosting an upcoming event and plan to have attendees sign-up through a web-form, including a question regarding consent to text is another great way to recruit your panel for surveys taking place before, during, or after events. Similarly, if you’re a business using web-forms for customer check-outs or service sign-ups, you can also include a consent to text check-box to recruit customers into upcoming SMS surveys or communications.

4. Mail Surveys

Similar to phone surveys, mail surveys are another opportunity to obtain and record consent for SMS surveys. While you could add a question to the end of a mail survey asking participants for consent for future SMS surveys, if you already have an SMS survey phone number, you could ask participants to text into the survey number. Keep in mind, this would most likely be the most time consuming and slowest form of recruitment.


For best results, we suggest our customers employ a variety of recruitment methods when building their text message survey panels. But no matter the methods used to recruit survey participants, we’re always here to help. Whether it be creating survey opt-in messages and instructions, making sure all the appropriate legal information is available in participants upon opting-in, or handling survey participant recruitment from start to finish, we have experience in panel recruiting and are always happy to offer our expertise.

Want to learn more about recruiting participants for SMS surveys? Get in touch!

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