Top 10 Tips to Increase Your Survey Response Rates

Top 10 Tips to Increase Your Survey Response Rates

If you need to gather large amounts of data quickly and efficiently, Surveys are one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to do this. Collecting information about purchase behavior and thoughts about products and services, personal opinions, and what would you like to see, Surveys can give you valuable insight into customer expectations and feedback.

Surveys are great for understanding customer segments and filling in data gaps. However, they don’t provide the best way to create amazing experiences. The first step is to ensure that enough people complete the survey.

Even if you try your best, it may not be possible. Your survey response rate is slowly decreasing. The tips and advice in this blog will help you to increase it quickly.

What is a survey response rate?

Your survey response rates refer to the percentage of respondents who completed the survey successfully. It could range from 0% to 100% theoretically, but it is almost impossible to get a 100% response rate.

How to calculate your survey response rates

The following formula can be used to calculate your survey response rate:

Response Rate = The number of people who responded to the survey divided by the total number of people you sent it to.

This will show you the percentage of your response rate.

What’s the difference between the response rate and the completion rate?

You’re likely to encounter another term, survey completion rate when you begin to look into response rates. These two terms are not interchangeable, but they are very similar. Here’s what the difference is:

The percentage of respondents who complete your survey, as we have already explained, is called the response rate. It is dependent on having a record of who you sent your survey. This doesn’t apply to open-access surveys like suggestion boxes or site intercepts, where anyone can participate at any time.

The completion rate, or the percentage of people who completed the survey after they started it, is what we call the success rate. This metric is useful because it allows you to see how easy the survey was and if there are any obstacles or pain points.

This also alerts you to the irregularity of survey data. If there’s a low completion rate you will likely have more answers for the questions at the beginning of your survey, and much less for the final questions.

The completion rate doesn’t depend on the size of the sample, but rather on the number and quality of the people who took the survey. It’s also useful when there isn’t a defined sample or panel.

Here is the formula to calculate your completion rate:

Completion rate = The number of surveys completed divided by the number of survey respondents.

For example, your survey might have a response rate of 100%, but it could be e.g. Your completion rate is the percentage of people who have completed your survey. Your survey could have a 50% completion rate.

Low completion rates can be explained by:

  • Poor survey experience — respondents are basically telling you they don’t like your survey. This could be due to your choice of questions or topic, as well as the survey layout and length.
    Survey results with a low competition rate
  • Incomplete data — Your survey respondents may not have filled out all the required information. Your questions might be poorly written or respondents are leaving your survey after the last question.

Also read: How to Get Good Customer Reviews: Top 10 Tips

What are the advantages of high response rates?

A high response rate is crucial as it can have an impact on the quality and accuracy of your data.

Smaller response rates mean a smaller sample size. A smaller sample size means that the results may not reflect the population you are interested in. This is because the respondents to your survey might not be representative of all the members of the target group.

If a small number of respondents have a unique characteristic, these answers will make up a significant portion of your results. This can create a huge skew in your data.

A low response rate could also indicate bias in the way respondents were selected. Your response rate could be low because you didn’t hear from enough people. If your survey design excluded certain people, this could happen.

You may have selected an online survey platform that was too complicated or difficult to use for older people. You could also have a timing issue, such as sending out the survey on a religious holiday, which excluded large numbers of people.

All of this being said, experts are arguing that smaller groups of respondents can provide greater accuracy.

Although it is possible to have more control over sample size than previously believed, it is safe to assume that larger samples will provide reliable results and protect against skew.

There is a growing debate about how important a response rate matters, with some experts, arguing that smaller respondent groups are more accurate.

What is the average response rate to a survey?

It is difficult to determine an average survey response rate because of so many variables. Each piece of survey research is unique.

Online, there are many estimates and ranges. Different companies and organizations offer their own averages. The figures typically fall between 20% to 30%. A survey response rate of less than 10% is considered low. Anything above 50% is considered a good survey response rate.

It doesn’t matter how many people respond to your survey. What matters is the response rate or completion rate. Even though you could achieve a remarkable completion rate of 80% with only 30 people completing the survey, that would still leave you with 24 sets of answers. If your completion or response rates are low, it is a good idea not to limit your reach and to recruit as many participants as possible to ensure a sufficient sample size.

What factors affect the survey response rate?

There are many factors that can affect survey response rates. These are just a few variables that could affect your success rate in surveys.

The survey itself

  • Type of survey (online platform, paper questionnaire, or over the phone)
  • It’s easy to take the survey
  • Clarity in instructions
  • Question-wording
  • Type of question (some questions are more mentally taxing than others)
  • Survey flow/logic
  • Survey topic (sensitive topics or niche subjects may receive fewer responses)
  • Length of the survey
  • Personalization — Does it appeal to your respondents


  • Motivation of the respondent to respond
  • Interest of the respondent in the survey
  • Previous relationship with respondents (either they’ve participated before) Panel membership.
  • Those who are members of a panel are more likely than those who aren’t to answer.
  • Qualitative recruitment
  • If applicable, invitation email words
  • Demographic factors (education, lifestyle, etc.

Panel management and recruitment

  • Brand perception & visibility (e.g. in the survey invitation).
  • Confidence in anonymity
  • Security and perceived legitimacy of the survey
  • Reminder emails and follow-up
  • Incentives and rewards for completion

Also read: How to Repairing Your Company’s Online Reputation

How to improve your survey response rate

Low response rates are more than a frustrating issue. They can also be survey-killers. There are strategies and tools that can help you reach your response quotas. Here are some ways to increase survey response rates

1. Use incentives

Incentives and rewards have been shown time and again to increase participation in surveys. Or, to put it another manner, to increase the likelihood of survey completion and response. These tips will help you make the most of your incentive budget.

  • It is better to have a small incentive for every respondent than one large incentive for just a few
  • Raffles have a lower response rate than small incentives for each respondent.
  • Make respondents feel valued by explaining how their feedback will improve the status quo.
  • Explain to respondents clearly how you intend to use their feedback, and who will be able to see it.
  • Ask respondents why they chose you for this survey

Higher response rates will be achieved if there are more incentives to complete the survey. These incentives are usually offered to the 100 first respondents to complete the survey.

2. Use a survey panel

To increase survey participation, Many researchers decide to create and manage their own research panels, which are pre-selected groups of respondents who agree to answer surveys.

If you are looking to conduct large-scale surveys and don’t have an appropriate “captive audience” such as employees or customers, or if your goal is to continue surveying the same people for a long time in longitudinal research, then panelists can be a good investment.

3. Use cognitive dissonance

Psychological theory is a lesser-known way to increase survey response rates.

Cognitive dissonance theory states that the ability to reduce dissonance is an important part of the decision to respond or not. You can promote the behavior you desire by framing surveys in a way that is compatible with someone’s beliefs and values.

You can appeal to people’s values by carefully writing a questionnaire and a cover letter asking them to participate. The possibility that a potential respondent might not respond to the questionnaire because they aren’t sure of their self-perception as being helpful or honoring reasonable requests is possible. In this case, the potential respondent will seek to reduce the dissonance by taking the survey.

4. Do it now

When you request feedback right after the delivery of goods/services, your response rates are higher. Also, immediate feedback is 40% more accurate than feedback received 24 hours later.

5. Choose the right channel

Are you trying to find the right people in the right places? A survey sent via email may reach more people than a text message (SMS)especially when every survey is optimized for mobile. To make it easy for people to respond, embed the questions in the email body.

6. Keep it focused and short

Your respondents should be told upfront how long it will take to complete the survey. A mobile survey should take no longer than 9 minutes. Turn off a progress bar in the survey, Customers respond better to human-like text cues like “Nearly there!” Just a couple more questions.’

7. Be honest about the expectations

For mobile surveys, no longer than 9 minutes. It is not a good idea to have a progress bar displayed during the survey. Customers respond better when they are given human text cues like “Nearly there!” Just a couple more questions.’

8. Tap into self-perception theory

Another tool in the world of psychology. Self-perception theory is the belief that people interpret the causes of their behavior to infer attitudes and knowledge.

Interpretations are based on self-observation. In the event that an individual’s decision not to answer a survey is due to internal reasons and survey responses are not viewed as a result of circumstantial pressures. Instead, it is interpreted positively.

These attitudes (self-perceptions) can then influence behavior. This self-perception paradigm was extended to include online survey responses. This means that if you believe you have responded to a survey to help others, you are more likely to do so again.

To increase the effectiveness of your online survey responses, as a researcher you need to create labels (e.g., helpful, kind, and generous). The use of labels allows respondents to categorize themselves based on their behavior so they can act in accordance with that characterization.

You should expect to see an increase in survey responses and higher-quality data by using psychological theories, incentives, and panel groups.

9. Make it personal

Personalizing your survey can dramatically increase response rates – sometimes up to 48%. Personalizing the survey with data you already have about respondents can give it a human touch that encourages responses. An example might be, ‘Hello Sara, we hope you’re loving your new boots. We would like to ask you a few questions about your shopping experience today.

10. Remind them with a gentle note

If you haven’t heard back from a respondent, send between one and three reminders Use refreshed language every time, so that you aren’t just repeating the original. It is important to find the right balance between gentle reminders and spammy messages. If you do it correctly, your response rate could rise up to 36%

Not only should respondents be reminded to complete their surveys, but they also need to provide feedback about the survey results — through infographics, market research reports, or other means — to help close the loop, and to demonstrate the respondent’s value. It is great to see the results of your efforts!

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