Survey response rate

The survey response rate is one of the most important factors to consider when designing a survey. It determines how representative your sample size is, how many people are interested in your survey and whether or not the collected data will even be useful. 

If you want to get an accurate picture of how your target audience feels about a subject (a product, business idea, or your customer service, for example), you’ll need to make sure that they respond in large enough numbers. This way, their opinions will be reflected in the sample data.

The more people respond to your survey, the more viable your collected data will be. 

How can you ensure your survey response rate is high then? What is an acceptable survey response rate? This is our topic for today.

What is a Survey Response Rate?

In short, the survey response rate is the percentage of people that respond to your survey.

Companies or organizations that want to know more about their customers and potential customers often use surveys. The company conducts the surveys in order to find out what people think about its products or services, and what they would like improved. 

Online survey response rates can also be an important indicator of how well a company is doing in terms of customer satisfaction and retention rates.

How to calculate your Survey Response Rate

Calculating your Survey Response Rate is fairly easy and you shouldn’t find it too complicated. 

All you have to do is divide the number of people who responded to a particular survey by the number of people you sent the survey to. Then, if you want to see your results in percentage, you should multiply the number by 100. In other words, this is the formula:

The number of people who responded / the number of people you sent the survey to x 100

How to Improve Your Survey Response Rate

Depending on the size of your population, as well as the type of survey you’re planning on conducting, your desired average survey response rate will vary. Different types of surveys include: 

  • phone surveys
  • electronic e-mail surveys
  • mail surveys
  • internal surveys
  • external surveys and more. 

One is certain, however – you should aim to keep your Average Response Rate as high as possible. 

The more people answer, the more valuable insights you’ll be able to discover, making your research much more reflective and accurate. 

Here’s how you can increase your typical survey response rates in 7 simple steps. 

#1 Make sure to start your survey with a compelling question

The power of the very first impression is definitely unrated. Surveys are a great way to collect valuable insights and feedback from customers. 

But there is one problem with surveys – they do not always engage the participants enough to provide you with the insights and feedback that you need.

Here’s how to make your survey more engaging: When you’re designing your survey, do everything you can to make it interesting right off the bat. This will help you lure people in and motivate them to finish it. 

For example, “List 3 positive things about our customer experience.” instead of “How old are you?”.

#2 Keep the length of the survey reasonable – remember that people are busy and will not spend too much time on it

Out of respect for your survey respondents’ time, as well as in hopes for a high Survey Response Rate, you ought to keep your survey as short as possible. Ideally, your survey should not take more than 15 or 20 minutes to finish, if you want the best results.

To achieve this, think about what you want to find out and how to ask your respondents about it in a short way. Be direct – there’s no room or point to beat around the bush here. 

#3 Make sure to ask only one question at a time

Moving on, try to avoid double-barreled questions – asking two questions at once. For example: What did you dislike most about our product and how can we make it better?

When you ask two questions at the same time, the chances are that: 

  • you may only receive an answer for one of them,
  • you may confuse your respondents,
  • respondents may mix up the question order and give you false answers. 

The more simple and straightforward your questions are, the better answers you will get. 

#4 Offer incentives for completing the survey in order to increase the response rate

It’s normal for you to worry about the response rate to your survey. Similarly, it’s completely understandable that you want to ensure the response rate is as high as possible. 

You can do this by implementing some form of an incentive program in exchange for filling your survey up.  Whether it’s a discount code, a free product sample, or an extended subscription plan, even the smallest gift can make your response rates pretty much skyrocket. 

This is because people are simply more encouraged to do certain actions when there are benefits waiting for them

#5 Use an online form builder like YouEngage.Me to make it easy for respondents

To make people want to take part in your survey you need to make it visually appealing and well-designed.

Luckily for you, you don’t need to be a graphic designer or a coding pro to be able to design a survey template using a form builder. There are solutions out there that can help you with this, such as youengage.me and its easy-to-use online survey tool. Software like this is great if you’re looking to customize and share beautiful and mobile-friendly surveys, forms, and questionnaires. 

Surprisingly enough, creative and custom-made templates like this could give you even a 35% higher survey completion rate – so don’t miss out on it. 

#6 Send follow-up emails after 2 weeks if you do not receive any replies 

When you first send out surveys to people for them to complete, they may open them, think they’re great, schedule completing them in their minds for later, and… simply forget to do so!

For this reason, you should always send follow-up reminder emails after some time has passed and the surveys still haven’t been completed yet. Doing this will allow you to increase your response rate significantly.

#7 Analyze the results of your survey carefully and make changes accordingly

Surveys can be qualitative, quantitative, or mixed. Depending on the type, sometimes, as your survey is running, you may notice that some types of questions perform better than others. 

Do keep this in mind and learn as much as you can. Analyze, compare, make reflections. It’s the only way to keep improving your surveys and, of course, the response rates. Here you may want to use a special tool to analyze and measure the effectiveness of your surveys. 

Examples of Good and Bad Questions 

Numerous researchers and academics who deal with research and surveys on a daily basis have spent years working on designing a framework for conducting effective surveys and survey questions. Now you can benefit from their work when you’re planning your next customer satisfaction surveys, or a market research survey, for example.

Good Survey Questions (+why?)

Multiple-choice questions
  • most popular survey question type 
  • produce easy to analyze data
  • easy survey-taking experience

Example: How often do you conduct surveys? Possible answers: weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually.

Rating scale questions
  • a popular type of survey question
  • easy to understand and implement 
  • allows analyzing sentiment, for example towards a product or service

Example: How satisfied are you with our customer service? Possible answers: very satisfied, satisfied, neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, dissatisfied, very dissatisfied

Likert scale questions
  • one of the universal survey methods
  • easy to understand
  • easy to draw conclusions, reports, and results 

Example: The website was easy to navigate. Possible answers: Strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree. 

Matrix questions
  • reduce the amount of space used in the survey
  • less tedious
  • time-saving
Dropdown questions
  • easy to use and great for mobile surveys
  • reduced visual complexity
  • simplistic in terms of answers

Example: What do you think of our web design?
Drop-down answers:

  • I love it.
  • I’m fine with it.
  • I have no strong opinion.
  • It could be better.
  • I hate it.

Open-ended questions

  • unlimited responses possible
  • can deliver new and unexpected results 
  • provide more detail

Example: In your own words, tell us what you think

 Demographic questions

  • give you valuable data about respondents 
  • allows you to categorize your results by groups (for instance income, age)
  • useful for target audience segmentation and customer segments 

Example: How old are you?

Other effective types of questions include: ranking questions, image choice questions, click map questions, file upload questions, slider questions, and benchmarkable questions

Bad Survey Questions (+why?)

Leading questions 
  • imply answers 
  • leave no room for objectivity 
  • possible negative impact on respondents’ behaviour

Example: Do you love our amazing support team?

Double-barreled questions
  • high rates of nonresponse 
  • unstable attitudes 
  • analytic problems and questions of construct validity

Example: Do you think our company should produce more lipsticks and foundations?

Jargon questions
  • difficult to understand by respondents
  • may result in a lack of interest in the survey
  • could lead to inadequate answers

Example: What do you think about our company’s due diligence?

Double negatives questions
  • includes two negative words 
  • potentially misleading and confusing
  • results in meaningless and useless data

Example: Do you oppose not allowing our company to keep on selling this subscription type?

Other bad types of questions include: assumptive questions, poor answer scale questions, and consuming answer scale formatting

Common Mistakes in Surveys and How to Avoid Them for the highest survey response rate

If you want your surveys to bring the best possible results, you will also need to pay attention to and avoid certain mistakes that are out there. 

#1 Not asking the right or too many questions

Focus on the purpose of your survey and be as straightforward as possible. Asking too many questions, or questions that are irrelevant could harm the outcome of your surveys. Avoid this at all costs. For example, you could ask someone to read the questions for you and give their objective opinion. 

#2 Not being clear about the purpose of your research as well as how the collected data will be used and stored

Not being transparent about your intentions can cast a dark shadow on the results of your surveys, including the response rate. With the rising concern around data privacy and collection, it’s vital that you’re open about things like:

  • why you’re conducting your survey,
  • how you will collect the data,
  • how you will store the data and for how long,

to name a few examples. Without this, people may be skeptical about survey participation, and your Rate Of Response will be low. 

#3 Asking sensitive questions without first getting consent

Sensitive questions are called sensitive for a reason – they touch upon topics and matters that your respondents may not necessarily want to talk with you about, be it through a survey or an interview. 

To avoid losing a potential respondent completely, you should inform them about the potential survey topic you’re going to tackle, as well as seek their consent – for example in a survey invitation email.

Make sure they’re fully aware of what you may want to ask them and give them a choice – even though they may not want to answer your 1 or 2 sensitive questions, they still may be happy to answer the rest of them, giving you valuable insights to work with. 

#4 Using vague or confusing language, like jargon

Moving on, when you’re designing your survey questions, make sure they’re not filled with too much professional vocabulary that your respondents simply may not understand. 

If you use difficult corporate lingo, chances are your respondents won’t know what you’re talking about. So, keep this in mind and try to make your survey language as easy as possible. 

#5 Surveying too few respondents and not getting enough data to make conclusions about the larger population as a whole

Another commonly made mistake is not surveying enough people. In order to collect a random sample of a substantial size, you will need to survey a lot of people. Bear in mind that as you’re conducting the surveys, some people may give up at the last minute, completely decline survey participation or only answer part of the questions. 

Thus, to make sure you’ll get a high response rate, try to direct your survey at as many suitable and relevant people as possible. 

#6 Surveying people who are not representative of the population you want to survey

Last but not least, this bit refers to the previous mistake. When you’re sending out your surveys, you absolutely must ensure that you only send them to relevant people. For example, imagine you want to learn about your customers’ opinion on your latest product. For a survey like this, you should only survey the people who’ve had experience using that particular product. 

It would make no sense to ask your whole customer base to complete the survey since it’s very specific and relates to a particular product. Keep in mind that you need to direct your surveys to the right people who actually can answer your questions – this is how you get a high Survey Response Rate.

Survey Elements to keep to ensure high survey response rate (template – bullet points)

Depending on the survey type you’re conducting, you may want to include various elements to make sure that your response rate is as high as possible, such as a unique survey design or a thank you note. Here’s a few examples of some of the key elements to creating effective and eye-catching surveys that people will want to take part in. Does your survey have them all?

  • survey introduction
  • an explanation of the purpose of the survey
  • a description outlining how the data will be stored and used
  • a thank you note for each individual respondent for their time and effort
  • survey questions
  • summary
  • colors and company logo 
  • images (if suitable)
  • interesting and eye-catching survey design

How to increase your Survey Response Rate with YouEngage.me

As you can see, ensuring that your Survey Response Rates are top-notch requires a lot of thought, effort, and consideration. 

To make it all easier and less stressful for you, there are helpful solutions out there such as that of YouEngage.Me

YouEngage.Me is a tool that enables businesses to create interactive experiences that actually convert. Not only does it help generate leads and drive more revenues, but most importantly, it’s amazing at allowing people like you to effortlessly gain instant customer feedback. 

From quizzes and forms, through calculators, assessments and live engagement tools, all the way up to effective surveys – this solution has everything you could possibly need – for a great price, with plans starting at exactly $0 per month – have you ever seen lower survey costs?

Why not take advantage of it and make some real improvements in terms of your Survey Completion Rate?

Whether it’s email surveys, telephone surveys, app surveys, or mobile surveys – YouEngage.Me has all the resources needed to help you with making your surveys great – no matter what your survey topic or the survey sample size is. 

FAQ: How to increase survey response rate? 

Here are some of the most common questions regarding survey response rates.

  • Response rate vs. completion rate – what’s the difference?

The response rate is the percentage of people that you contacted in some way who completed the survey. The completion rate is the percentage of people who opened the survey and completed it. For example, if you send out an email with a survey to 100 people and 80 of them responded, that means that your response rate is 80%. If only half of those people actually completed the survey, your completion rate is 50%.

  • What are the benefits of a high response rate?

The biggest benefit is that you’ll get more accurate responses and you’ll have a better idea of how your target audience feels.

  • What is the average survey response rate?

It depends on many factors, but the average response rate hovers around 30%.

  • What factors affect survey response rate?

There are quite a few, but here are some of the most important ones: the method of contacting the audience, the sampling methods, the complexity and length of the survey, the incentives offered.

  • How to increase your survey response rates?

Some of the most common methods include: starting with a compelling question, keeping the survey short and sweet, asking one question at a time, offering incentives for completion, using online survey tools, and sending follow-up emails.

  • How to distribute your survey to get a high response rate?

The #1 method in 2021 is still to hand in surveys in person. Other successful methods include sending them by email, offering them on your website, conducting them by phone, and running the surveys in your mobile app.

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