In the days of mailed surveys, which were not that long ago, it was common practice to send a pre-notification to your prospect list to let them know a survey was coming. This advanced notification allowed the survey author to build up a sense of importance around the survey. Raising the perceived importance generally benefits response rate.
But is this practice necessary in today’s online survey world? Why not just send out your initial invitation with an embedded survey link?
I can certainly see how mentioning to your audience that a survey is forthcoming holds benefit. This is especially true in the public sector and utility industries. It is common practice for utilities to employ bill stuffers (aka buck slips) to announce upcoming events. Why not use a buck slip to announce a survey and provide information about its intended use, length and other factors which could plant a seed of interest. Many utility customers receive their bills electronically. There is almost always room in an email, even if it is a bill, to include relevant information.
Why not test the idea? The use of A/B testing is just as relevant to B2B or consumer marketing research as it is direct marketing. Randomly split your list into a treatment group (those who will receive a pre-notification in addition to your normal invitation) and a control group (standard procedures only). The proof will be in the response rates. If response for the test group is significantly higher than control, then it may be worth adding this extra step to your survey process. I recommend testing this on a few occasions and to different lists to see if the results are stable over time.