11 Easy Ways to Increase Response Rates for your Online Survey
One of the most common questions we get asked is "how to increase response rates for surveys". There is no single answer for this problem you may have already tried one or two of the ideas on this list. Though you may want to add all 11 of these ideas at once, each requires some preparation before implementation. We recommend doing one at a time and before you know it you’ll have the steady feedback you need to better your business.
- Review the basic objectives of the study.
What are you trying to discover? What actions do you want to take as a result of the survey? This helps you double check the validity of the data collection mechanism. Online Surveys are just one way of collecting and quantifying perspectives.
- Target Your Audience
Consider a variety of sources for possible respondents. In addition to email mailing lists, for example, consider posting your survey to newsgroups and web communities.
- Personalize Your Email Invitations
Emails with a personal salutation result in increased response rates of at least five percent, and sometimes much higher. Send your email to "Dear Mr. Wright" rather than "Dear Valued Alumni."
- Keep your email invitation short
Please keep your email invitation short and simple, with just one link - the one to the survey. Please be sure to explain the following:
- Who you are and the purpose of your study.
- The survey's benefit to the individual as well as to your business.
- Length of the survey. If it is short, emphasize that. But be truthful about times—people are more likely to stick with longer surveys if they know how much time they will take.
- Privacy statement, if required by your organization.
- Make your first survey page simple—let people take the survey!
Once people have decided to take your survey, they will want to get started. Studies show most people don't read extensive instructions.
- But? be clear about privacy protections
The first page of the survey is the place to include information about how you will be using people's responses. People are more comfortable sharing information on the Internet if they know how it will be used. Are they anonymous? Confidential? Shared with others? A university human subjects statement, if needed, would go here.
- Send reminder emails
Some people will take your survey right away. You will get increased responses, however, if you send follow-up email reminders with the survey link included. It is best not to send more than two reminder emails. Be sure to filter out email addresses of people who do not wish to be contacted again.
- Consider offering incentives—gifts, prizes, etc.
Studies show that incentives need not be large to increase response rates. A small token, gift certificate, etc., can increase responses considerably.
- Some people just want to share their opinion!
A large number of people will complete a survey to share their information rather than to receive an incentive. Consider making your incentive optional - you must choose to be included in a raffle or donating to a relevant cause for example.
- Use graphics and Internet features strategically.
Surveys generally don't need fancy graphics, and sometimes graphics can distract from the content of the survey, or influence answers. But there are a few ways to use graphics to improve your survey responses. These include providing an image and web link for a prize or incentive, using a multimedia embedded content survey.
- Publish your results online to survey participants.
People who respond will want to see results, and getting these results will encourage them to complete the survey.
- And a bonus?
Use friends, family and colleagues targeting ask your respondents to share your survey with people they know. Offer respondents an opportunity to send the survey to others, and if their friends and family take the survey, the original respondent has a better chance of winning/earning a gift incentive. Make sure to add a dedicated section to letting respondents share email addresses with you.
Another way to increase response rates is to make sure you’re asking the right questions. Learn about the different Survey Question Types.