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How to Increase Survey Response Rates: 7 Effective Tips

How to Increase Survey Response Rates: 7 Effective Tips

It’s not unusual to not generate enough responses in online surveys.

There can be multiple reasons for this. Either the survey is too long, not relevant to the respondents, the motive behind the survey is unclear, or there is no incentive for the respondents.

Whatever the reason, it can help you to know how to influence your respondents to take surveys.

To ensure that your surveys don’t end up being just another marketing message your customers receive every day, I gathered some effective strategies to increase survey response rates.

So, let’s dive right in.

What Is a Survey Response Rate?

A survey response rate refers to the percentage of people who respond to a survey out of the total number of people who were invited or eligible to participate. It is a measure of the level of engagement or interest from the survey recipients.

Generally, a higher response rate is considered better as it means a larger sample size was obtained, and the survey results are therefore more representative of the population being studied.

However, the ideal response rate may vary depending on the survey goals, the target population, and the survey methodology used

What Is Considered a Good Survey Response Rate?

A good survey response rate can vary widely depending on several factors, such as the target population, survey distribution method, the topic of the survey, how the survey is administered, and the statistical validity required for the results.

That said, the average online survey response rate is stated to be 44.1%. It may be noted that sending an online survey to more participants does not generate a higher response rate. Instead, sending them to a clearly defined audience positively impacts the online survey response rate.

A response rate of 20% to 30% is generally considered acceptable. Anything above 50% is excellent.

The Acceptable Response Rate for Online Surveys is 20% to 30%

Similarly, for academic research, higher response rates above 60% are usually sought to ensure the data’s validity and to reduce non-response bias. In the context of customer feedback surveys, however, lower response rates are common, and even a 10% to 15% response rate can be considered successful, especially if the survey is unsolicited and sent to a broad audience.

7 Tips to Increase Your Survey Response Rates

You can improve your survey response rates through several methods. They include:

  1. Creating personalized survey templates
  2. Being considerate toward respondents
  3. Giving them a gentle nudge for participation
  4. Using multiple channels to deliver surveys
  5. Offering incentives to respondents
  6. Segmenting the customers & targeting the right audience
  7. Not being repetitive and over-surveying the audience

Let me elaborate on each of them:

  1. Create Personalized Survey Templates

When it comes to offering exemplary services and uplifting customer experience, organizations are pushing the boundaries and setting new standards. This is why customers nowadays want personalized services from brands and would not settle for anything less than that.
In fact, 86% of consumers say personalization has a significant impact on their purchasing decisions.
This evidently shows that incorporating personalization in every aspect of online surveys is now a necessity.

Remember: Using a simple personalization technique, such as addressing the respondents by their first name and asking open-ended questions, would proportionately increase the average survey response rates.

2. Be Considerate Toward Your Respondents

Consider this: Would you be interested in participating in a survey that asks never-ending questions, most of which are not even relevant to you?

Most definitely not.

Similarly, the survey respondents would never consider taking a survey that either consumes a lot of time or has nothing to do with what they are doing on the web.
This is something that can be easily fixed by knowing what to ask the customers and, most importantly, when.

What's the Best Time to Send an Online Survey?
According to HubSpot, it's best to send an online survey on a low-peak time weekday. They include early mornings, lunchtime, late afternoons, and after-work evenings. It reduces the chances of your surveys getting lost among other work-related emails and increases the likelihood of your targets completing them.

3. Give Them a Gentle Nudge for Participation

Customers don’t normally consider participating in a survey as their top priority. Some of the respondents might even forget to participate after receiving a survey.
This is the reason why giving your respondents a gentle reminder at regular intervals is necessary.

This can be done by setting up automated survey Nudges™, which would discreetly pop on the screen of customers and remind them about their survey participation.
This is a completely unobtrusive way of sending reminders known to increase the survey response rates without hurting the morale of the customers.

This can be done by setting up automated survey Nudges™, which would discreetly pop on the screen of customers and remind them about their survey participation.
This is a completely unobtrusive way of sending reminders known to increase the survey response rates without hurting the morale of the customers.

4. Use Multiple Channels to Deliver Surveys

The channel that you use to communicate with your audience is another crucial factor when it comes to surveying. Two of the most common and highly responsive survey channels include:

By using these channels, the frequency of surveys can be increased, and customers are more likely to participate, which they would have initially avoided or missed.

You can start posting your surveys on social media and integrate them on relevant websites, which would significantly increase your coverage and footprint over the internet.

This way, you are essentially making the customers ‘run into you’ by already being available where they are likely to visit.

5. Offer Incentives to Respondents

Customers are more likely to participate in a survey when the reward for participation is worth the effort put in by them. For example, monetary rewards are known to increase the average response rate by over 19% and non-monetary rewards by almost 8%.

With incentives, such as gift cards and raffles, people might even just rush through the surveys to get those incentives.

Although these incentives mean increased costs for a company, the increased response rate you may get ultimately makes it worthy of investment.

Bonus Read: Customer Loyalty Guide – How to Measure & Improve it

6. Segment Your Customers & Target the Right Audience

To get the most accurate representation of your survey data, you should make sure that you only survey a specific demographic.

By asking the right audience, you not only get precise information but also increase the response rate.

Source: ProProfs

You can also base your segmentation on the customer lifecycle stage, which would help your surveys wisely target the right set of audiences at the right time. Therefore, understanding the nature of your survey and the positioning of your customers is an important consideration.

There are several ways you can target your customers for surveys. Here are some of them:

  • Targeting based on behavior

An effective way of targeting your respondents is through their online behavior. This would include factors like:

  • The website they came from
  • Number of times they visited
  • Search engine they use
  • Targeting based on location

Another way of targeting customers is by choosing a certain geographic location website.

  • Targeting based on time

Choosing the timing of your survey is also crucial, and here, you can decide when you want to display your survey to the respondents. You can time your surveys like this:

  • Immediately after the page loads
  • After a specific time period
  • When it looks like visitors might abandon the page
  • Targeting based on frequency

Targeting can also be determined based on the number of times a survey is displayed. This would include factors like:

  • Once per visitor
  • Continue showing until the respondent answers
  • Recurring surveys after a stipulated time period

7. Do Not Be Repetitive & Over-Survey the Audience

Increasing the frequency of the surveys is one thing, but over-surveying is another. Bombarding your audience with the surveys will only end up alienating them instead of generating any meaningful response.

I understand that collecting feedback from customers at every touchpoint is extremely frustrating from the customer’s perspective. That’s why you should thank the customer at every step and set parameters for the surveys to only pop up after a set duration.

You should also use survey throttling to stop particular surveys from popping up again for the same customers. By doing so, you would allow the customers to take their time and process all the information, along with making them curious about survey participation.
That was all about how to increase survey response rates. Let’s now further understand other related topics.

Importance of Surveys & Participation

Online surveys are a great way for you to get up to speed with how customers perceive your product or service. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg as there are several other advantages as well.

  • Surveys Talk in Numbers

The survey responses that you collect provide statistical data on how the customers feel about a product or service and to what extent. Surveys are more than just story-telling as they represent accurate opinions and behavior of the masses.

  • They Help in Benchmarking

Surveys are actively used by businesses to make critical decisions. These decisions are based on the statistical data provided by the surveys that allow organizations to set progression goals and benchmarks.

  • They are Cost-Effective

Online and email surveys are some of the most cost-effective ways of gathering user data. The total cost per respondent is almost negligible, and even when you add the incentive, the overall cost would still be substantially less than when administering paper surveys.

  • They Offer Flexibility

When you account for all the ways you can conduct a survey, there are a plethora of them, including online surveys, mobile surveys, social media surveys, email surveys, paper surveys, telephonic surveys, etc. You can always deploy different types of surveys based on the audience’s characteristics, which makes them an extremely flexible choice.

  • They Help Analyze Trends

By surveying your audience, you get a bigger picture and also a clear understanding of the ongoing trends in the world. This would allow you to stay ahead of the curve and understand hidden needs.

For example, if a company’s net promoter score (NPS) ratings drop significantly, appropriate changes can be made to the website or the services the business offers, and benchmarks can be set to acquire ratings above a certain threshold.

If you would like to create your own NPS survey, we’d suggest this video guide:
How to Create Net Promoter Score Survey with Qualaroo

Case Study

Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is an American national non-profit organization that created a school quality rating system based on the school resources, student outcomes, and the ratings provided by the school residents.

The vision of GreatSchools is not to make profits but to lead American parents, students, organizers, schools and policy makers toward a promising future.

Therefore, gathering information to expand their insights on educational needs and parents’ attitudes is always a challenge.

Non-profit organizations often struggle with gathering the resources needed to learn about the communities they intend to serve. On-site visits and user testing aren’t always feasible or inexpensive, which adds up to the challenge.

By deploying Qualaroo to collect NPS on every webpage, GreatSchools was able to capitalize on fast feedback to make themselves as robust as any other entity.

As a result, GreatSchools collected more than 20,000 responses in less than a year. This helped the organization design a website that everybody preferred and share valuable insights with the foundation that provided them funding.

How Is a Survey Response Rate Calculated?

The survey response rate is calculated by dividing the number of completed surveys by the number of eligible respondents and then multiplying by 100 to express it as a percentage. This rate is a key indicator of the engagement level of your targeted population and the representativeness of your survey results.

Here’s the formula:

Number of Completed Surveys: This is the count of surveys that were fully completed by respondents.

Number of Eligible Respondents: This includes all individuals who were selected and invited to participate in the survey and were eligible to do so. It’s important to exclude from this count anyone who was found to be ineligible after the selection process, such as due to incorrect contact information or no longer fitting the survey criteria.

The calculation does not consider partially completed surveys unless specified by the survey’s methodology. The distinction between fully and partially completed surveys is significant for certain types of analysis and reporting.

Improving the survey response rate can be crucial for ensuring the collected data is representative of the entire population.

Techniques to improve response rates include simplifying survey questions, reducing the survey length, offering incentives, sending reminders, and ensuring the survey is accessible to all targeted respondents.

Bonus Tips to Generate Good Survey Response Rates

Find out additional strategies on how to increase survey participation.

  • Only ask questions that your audience can relate to or have information pertaining to that subject.
  • To get a better understanding of effective survey questions, feel free to take a look at this resource.
  • Keep the questions to a minimum without compromising any information. For example, if you are able to gather all the needed information from 5 questions, don’t include any more questions as they can then become redundant.
  • Use skip-logic to send the respondents down the right path quickly. This would allow you to eliminate responses that add no value to your results.
  • Make use of short questions and mainstream vocabulary for easy understanding.
  • Use small incentives for each respondent instead of big incentives for some.
  • Be transparent with your audience and let them know how the data will be used.
  • Tell the respondents why you chose them for the survey.
  • Allow the respondents to compare their responses with their peers.

Increase Survey Response Rates Dramatically!

When you’re planning to deploy a survey, always be mindful of the nature and components of your survey. Having a better understanding of your survey and the audience would enable you to make the most of a given opportunity.

Also, if you are looking for a survey tool for yourself, make sure you check out Qualaroo. It’s a highly intuitive survey tool that gives you contextual customer insights.

With professionally built templates paired with features like branching logic and exit intent surveys, it is the most comprehensive surveying tool that you will ever need.

FREE. All Features. FOREVER!

Try our Forever FREE account with all premium features!

About the author

Shivani has more than 3 years of experience in the modern creative content paradigm and technical writing verticals. She has been published in The Boss Magazine, Reseller Club, and HR Technologist. She is passionate about Artificial Intelligence and has a deep understanding of how organizations can leverage customer support technologies for maximum success. In her free time, she enjoys Nail art, playing with her guinea pigs, and chilling with a bowl of cheese fries.