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Improve your survey response rate with these tips

  • On 17/09/2019

More and more organizations are using surveys as a tool to gather information from customers, employees, partners and other stakeholders with the intention to analyze responses and gain insights on various topics of interest such as customer satisfaction, employee engagement, market research and more. As a result, increased survey response rates translate into more reliable data whilst poor response rates will give you inaccurate feedback which will, most probably, lead you to make the wrong decisions.

Keep it short and cut to the chase

A lot of questions are answered by outliers who’ve had a very specific experience they want to comment on. This works well for companies to handle service complaints or prevent future problems, but it doesn’t do much to aggregate the information of the average customer. If you want to get information about your target audience, make it easy for them.

One way to do that is to respect your customers’ time. Don’t ask for responses with a high word count requirement, or ask people to rank a long list. By asking fewer questions, you give recipients the chance to be thoughtful in their responses.

Send survey follow-ups and reminders

Sometimes, low response rates are not necessarily an indication that people do not want to respond to your survey. It might just be that they got too busy or forgot to reply. This is where follow ups and survey reminders come into play. Surveypal, for example, enables you to automate follow up emails, to be sent to people who have not responded to your survey, at a time of your choosing.

Pro tip: When sending an email invitation to a survey do not include the word “survey” in the subject line. Sometimes emails are flagged when using common spam words and never reach the respondent.

Use questions to engage your audience

Make your questions interesting and easy to read; a poor design reflects poorly on your brand. The average email survey response rate is around 30 percent, so to get a large amount of recipients and make your data statistically relevant, you need to draw people in with eye-catching words and images.

Pay careful attention to design

It may seem too simple but design is crucial. It supports the intuitive flow of the questionnaire. You want to make it easy and appealing for your target group to respond. Make it easy to read and follow the questions. This can be easily achieved by adding logic or branching.

The tone should be adjusted to your target group. If the style fits, consider approaching them with humour or adding some interesting or fun images. And keep your surveys short. In fact, case studies have shown that 52% of survey participants have dropped out when they spend more than three minutes on a survey.

Ask questions in person

Take advantage of event booths and trade shows by using them as opportunities to interact with your customers. Not only can you speak to them or help them fill out a survey (try an iPad survey or a printed survey you hand out at your table), but you can pick up clues from their body language. To thank them, be ready to hand out gift cards or let people add their name to a raffle.

Give an incentive to your subscribers

Incentives are an inexpensive way to boost your response rates. We’ve listed it last because your focus shouldn’t just be on paying to get responses, but on your customer experience itself. Use the above tips to position the survey in a way that makes people want to answer your questions. If people only take your survey for the chance of a reward, they may hurry through or fill it in without looking too closely.

Send your surveys at the right time

To make the most out of feedback, consider integrating your surveys to your business processes such as customer support or sales. This will not only enable you to design survey questions contextually relevant to your daily operations but also to make sure the right type of survey reaches the respondent at the right time. Take customer service for example. Let’s say a customer contacts your support team with an issue. It makes the most sense to send a customer service satisfaction survey right after the issue is resolved. This way the customer will remember the experience and provide feedback relevant to how it was perceived.

Know how to recognize opportunities

Survey design tips for different types of businesses are generally the same, but here are a few business-specific tips:

Retailers and service businesses

After a consultation or shopping trip, include a survey in customers’ information kit or shopping bag. With it, offer a discount or promotion for the next time they use your service or shop with you. Ask them how they’d rate their appointment, and how you could improve their experience in the future.


Try giving a paper survey at the end of the meal with the check or including a URL on the receipt where patrons can go to fill out the survey. Ask questions like: Was your meal satisfying? How was the overall service? Are you likely to dine with us again?


To get recipients to engage with your nonprofit survey, let them know how completing the survey will contribute to improving the nonprofit’s work toward the cause.

Finally, don’t forget to acknowledge and respect the respondents’ time. Be sure to end every survey with a thank you message. Show respondents that you are truly grateful for every answer.



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