1530.0 - ABS Forms Design Standards Manual, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/01/2010  First Issue
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Contents >> Survey Letters >> Survey Letters- Pre-Approach Letters


While aspects of these standards will be of interest to those outside the ABS, they were developed for internal use. As such, some information contained in these standards will not be applicable to an external audience. ABS staff should refer to the Corporate Manuals database for the most recent version of these documents, as some details (names, phone numbers etc.) have been removed from the online version.



Pre-approach letters are used for both new and continuing surveys. They are mailed to respondents in the weeks prior to despatch of the survey form. Their primary role is to alert the respondent to the imminent arrival of the survey form and motivate compliance.

Pre-approach letters that collect contact details are called induction letters, which are described in Survey Letters-Induction Letters. Survey managers generally take advantage of being able to collect the correct contact details of the respondent, therefore, induction letters are more commonly used than pre-approach letters in the ABS.

Nonetheless, a pre-approach letter alone is still an excellent opportunity for survey managers of new collections to obtain important unit information which may not match current information on the frame. Even the act of mailing the pre-approach letter is useful because it will determine the number of 'return to senders' (RTSs). The potential cost savings of not sending a form to these RTSs can be huge. Not only will the survey manager save time and money by not sending a form to those addresses, the frame can be up-dated and the resources saved can be redirected to Intensive Follow-up (IFU) to improve response rates and data quality.
For letter details common to all letters, see Survey Letters-Common Content. The remainder of this document deals with the areas specific to pre-approach letters.

Pre-approach letters are short, standard letters that briefly describe the purpose of the collection, when the form will arrive and often the due date for the survey form's return. This letter is a good opportunity to raise the respondent's motivation to comply by presenting the ABS as an approachable and helpful organisation (freecall number provided) which collects information to help inform important decision making which has the potential to affect the respondent.

The difference between a pre-approach letter for new providers and continuing providers is that the continuing providers are thanked for their previous co-operation. This should be done within the first two paragraphs of the letter.
Example of pre-approach letter

Units selected in the new Business Characteristics Survey (BCS) remain in the survey for five years, with the data contributing to the ABS's Business Longitudinal Database (LBD). Respondents are more likely to comply with a request for information if they have done so in the past (principle of consistency), so encouraging initial response to this survey was very important. This pre-approach letter was mailed to all respondents, which also helped to uncover the return to senders (RTSs) before the live survey.

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