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12 Effective Ways to Improve Your Survey Response Rate

Effective Ways to Improve your Survey Response Rate

Surveys are the most convenient and the best way to collect feedback about a product or service. However, while it may seem easy to get respondents to take the survey, it is not so in reality. About 75% of online surveys fail to get their minimum anticipated response rate. As an online surveyor, you may want to increase survey response rates.

When you look into the typical survey response rates, they are actually pretty surprising. As expected the response rates for internal surveys is a lot higher than the response rate for external surveys. The standard survey response rate for internal surveys is around 30-40% while the response rate for external surveys is generally around 10-20%. This shows that a lot of effort that goes into making surveys often goes unrewarded and there is an unquestionable need to improve survey response rates.

When it comes down to it, what is a good survey response rate? What should be the survey response rate that should be targeted?

The ideal response rate for the survey should exceed at least 60% but having a response rate of around 80% would be considered an astounding success.

A good response rate for your survey is no less than a badge of honor. But, the big question is how to get customers to take your survey. Before we answer this question for you, let us look into the reasons which you can leverage to get survey responses:

    1. Your target audience responds when taking the survey affects something it cares for
    2. Survey takers wish to share their opinion with those who listen

Here are the Effective Ways to Improve Survey Response Rate

1. Design Your Surveys Keeping Respondents in Mind

Hope you know the saying, ‘The first impression is the last impression’. Designing your survey using a professional custom theme appeals the most to your target audience. You could use survey software to customize the questionnaire with your logo, color, font, style, and theme. You can even insert images and videos. A well-designed and respondent-friendly survey, indeed, persuades respondents to share their views. Respondents need to feel that much effort has gone into preparing the questions. Only then will they bother to share their insights and feedback with you.

2. Follow the “KISS” Principle

Let’s not “keep it simple, stupid”, but “keep it short, stupid”. The shorter your questionnaire is; the better will be the response rate. Research shows survey abandonment rises with every additional question asked. There is a direct correlation between the number of questions asked and the rate of abandonment. Ensure that you ask 10 questions at the maximum to ensure a high response rate. Asking less than ten questions guarantees the highest rate of completion.

3. Make Surveys Available on Multiple Channels

One of the easiest ways to get more survey respondents is to maximize your reach through targeted messages via email to your survey audience. But, there are chances they ignore or miss out on messages in their inbox due to any reason. So, it’s better to post surveys on your social media pages or embed them into your website. It is even possible to send them out to customers through SMS. Sharing a survey on social media and elsewhere becomes easy when you employ survey software. Respondents enjoy participating in Facebook polls since doing so lends them a sense of social belongingness.

But avoid spam by mapping survey responses to your marketing automation platform, and exclude those who have already answered the questionnaire before, to get good response rates for online surveys.

4. Increasing Response Rates with Device Compatibility

Markets worldwide have witnessed extensive smartphone penetration over these years. This implies that mobile phones serve as the primary tool to conduct surveys. Surveyors can expect up to 40% of responses from smartphones and this percentage is likely to increase in the years to come. Professional survey tools enable you to build device compatible surveys that work on multiple devices such as mobiles, laptops, iPad, and desktops.

5. Set up Branching

As a surveyor, you need to understand the relevance of setting up skip logic (branching) for your survey. Customize surveys to eliminate questions that you feel are irrelevant for certain segments of your respondents. This enables them to complete your survey faster. The first step is to create a survey and then enable the skip logic option. Skip logic can only be done with ‘choose from list’ and ‘multiple choice’ question types. Professional survey tools lend you the option to implement logic rules as well as multiple paths into your surveys. Keeping the questions relevant to responders helps a great deal in improving response rates.

6. Offer Incentives to Encourage More Participation

It is a harsh truth, but you can’t rely on goodwill alone to persuade respondents to take your surveys. It is better to offer incentives, which can boost response and completion rates. Your target audience may take the trouble to participate when lured with gift cards, discounts, and raffles. Cash incentives help to increase response rates too. Incentives you offer to the target audience segment should entice everyone, for example,  an Amazon gift card.

But, if you have no budget to offer any incentives, share the results with your respondents. Sharing the result makes them feel their opinion concerns you. What’s more, they start believing that you may act on their suggestions and feedback.

7. Send Reminders to Your Respondents

It helps to send reminders to your target audience. Respondents need to feel that their participation matters to you. A simple reminder sent to people who fail to respond even after a few days leads to a 50% lift in survey completions. This means if the response rate is 10%, a reminder increases it by up to 15%. Refrain from using the word “reminder” in the subject line, as this reduces the interest to open the email. Use email subject lines such as “We value your opinion” or “Another chance to provide your feedback”.

8. Do Not Over Survey Your Customers

A leading reason for people avoiding surveys is that people are tired of filling out repeated surveys. Every company they interact with sends them multiple surveys a year, on average they fill out at least 20 surveys. Survey fatigue is a real thing, and companies need to ensure that they do not overburden their customers with repeated surveys.

9. Make Your eMail Subject Line Interesting

When you send out a survey via email, the subject line is the first thing the customer reads. The time it takes the customer to read the subject line, is the time in which they decide whether they will partake in the survey or not. Write interesting email subject lines that not only pique the reader’s interest but also make them interested in responding to your survey. Whether you’re a digital marketer or a research student trying to get responses to your surveys, your email subject lines need to be attractive to draw the responses for your survey.

10. Use Cognitive Dissonance To Boost Your Response Rates

People like viewing themselves as a kind and helpful human being. Cognitive dissonance is triggered by asking the respondent for help at the beginning of the survey or through a cover letter. This leads to the perception that if they do not provide their help, they are going against they views they hold of themselves. Learning to leverage people’s perception of themselves is important to boost your survey response rates.

11. Optimize And Test Your Surveys

Before you send out the surveys, test your survey out among a small target group to evaluate the pulse of the target audience. This will help you identify any issues within the survey and make changes before you go public with the survey. This is an effective approach because if you are not able to get 10 people to take your survey quickly, the trend will be continued even in the larger survey sample. So make sure you optimize your surveys and proof them before you send them out for publication.

12. Close The Communication Loop

Closing the communication loop with your respondent isn’t just about sending them an acknowledgment mail. It’s also about letting your customers know that their feedback is valued and acknowledged, and most importantly letting the customers know of the results of their feedback. Set yourself on a completely different level from your competitors by making your customers an active part of your decision-making process. The customer may not always be sure of what they want, but they can surely point you in the right direction.


Design a survey that not only helps you gather a large number of responses but also helps increase survey response rates. More responses you collect, more accurate will be your analysis. With more number of responses, not only do you learn better about your target customers, but also accurately identify & analyze data trends. For example, if only 50 people take your survey, then there are high chances of regional bias and one-off incidents influencing your outcome. But if 100 people share their opinions, you can be sure of accurate analysis. This way you can generalize your target market’s buying behavior, tastes and preferences, habits, and much more.

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About the author

Emma David is a seasoned market research professional with 8+ years of experience. Having kick-started her journey in research, she has developed rich expertise in employee engagement, survey creation and administration, and data management. Emma believes in the power of data to shape business performance positively. She continues to help brands and businesses make strategic decisions and improve their market standing through her understanding of research methodologies.