The paper we would like to highlight this week is a great example of how research can be transferred into practice.
Garner (2005) tested the impact of attaching a Post-it note with a hand-written request to survey materials. The study found that the note roughly doubled response rates (76%, compared to 36% with no Post-it note). In addition, using a Post-it note increased the quality and timeliness of survey responses.
The Irish Revenue has now transferred this finding into practice – and crucially they have tested the results in a randomised controlled trial. Of 2,000 businesses, 1,700 were randomly assigned to receive a survey questionnaire and a covering letter. 300 randomly assigned businesses were sent the same materials, but with a short personalised handwritten post-it note attached to the questionnaire.
After 15 working days, response rates were 36% for the trial group and 19.2% for the control group (p < 0.001). In other words, the Post-it note roughly doubled response rates (see graph below), with the biggest impact occurring just after the request was received.
Irish Revenue (2013) Survey of Small and Medium Sized Business Customers 2013.
Garner, R. (2005) Post-it note persuasion: A sticky influence. Journal of Consumer Psychology 15:3, 230-237.