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There have been several researchers that examined whether there is a difference in response between first class postage versus bulk rate. A meta-analysis of these studies revealed a small, but significant, aggregate difference of 1.8 percent. Envelopes with bulk mail permits might be perceived as "junk mail", unimportant, or less personal, and thus will be reflected in a lower response rates.

A few researchers have also examined whether metered mail or stamps work better on the outgoing envelope. The results of these studies suggest a small increase in response favoring a stamped envelope. A meta-analysis of these studies revealed that the aggregate difference was slightly less than one percent.

Many researchers have reported increased response rates by using registered, certified, or special delivery mail to send the questionnaire. The wisdom of using these techniques must be weighed against the consequences of angering respondents that make a special trip to the post office, only to find a questionnaire.

It is not clear whether a typed or hand-addressed envelope affects response. One study, conducted at the University of Minnesota, reported that students responded better to hand-addressed postcards, while professors responded better to typed addresses.

This writer could find no studies that examined whether gummed labels would have a deleterious effect on response rate, although we might predict that response rate would be less for gummed labels because they have the appearance of less personalization.

This writer could also find no studies that examined whether the color of the envelope affects response rate. First impressions are important, and the respondent's first impression of the study usually comes from the envelope containing the survey. Therefore, we might predict that color would have a positive impact on response because of its uniqueness.

 

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