Surveys are one of the most versatile and popular research methods. Marketers and researchers spend hours perfecting their surveys, but there is a catch! In an ideal world, your surveys would perform well in one go. But in reality, surveys need to be optimized as time progresses.
The response rate is the key indicator to know when the changes are required. It provides an overview of the survey’s performance and how many respondents have submitted their feedback. A low response rate indicates that your survey must be optimized to increase effectiveness.
In this article, you will learn the basics and proven ways to increase your survey’s response rates. Let’s get started, shall we?
P.S. - If you already know the basics, you can jump right to the ways to increase your response rate.
Survey Response Rate Basics
What is a Survey’s Response Rate?
The percentage of respondents who completed the survey as opposed to those who viewed or started the survey is known as the response rate. It is a key statistic for assessing how well a survey engages its intended audience.
How to Calculate Survey Response Rate
Calculating your survey’s response rate is easy. Just use this simple formula-
Response Rate = Number of respondents who completed the test / total number of respondents the survey was sent to.
If you multiply the final number by 100, you will get the response rate in percentage.
Survey Response Rate Example
Assume you have a sample size of 150 respondents. Out of the 150, only 65 respondents completed the survey.
Your response rate would be -
Response Rate = 65 / 150
To convert to percentage, multiply it by 100-
Response Rate (%) = 0.43 x 100 = 43%
The Difference Between Response Rate and Completion Rate
Response and completion rates are often used interchangeably, but it is important to know the difference between them.
What is Completion Rate?
Completion rate is the number of respondents who completed the test once they started it. It is useful if you want to evaluate the survey experience and identify points of friction in the survey.
Survey Completion Rate Example
Assume a sample size of 150 respondents. Out of these 150, 100 respondents entered the survey. But, only 50 respondents completed the entire survey.
Your completion rate would be -
Completion Rate = 50 / 100
To convert to percentage, multiply it by 100-
Completion Rate (%) = 0.5 x 100 = 50%
What is a Good Survey Response Rate?
You should aim for a response rate above 50%. Even though the average survey response rate ranges between 25- 35%, anything below 10% should be considered a major red flag.
It is easy to quote a number, but it is important to remember that each research journey is unique, as is every associated survey. Focus on gathering feedback and not just chasing a particular percentage.
Benefits of a High Response Rate
You should aim to achieve a high response rate because it impacts your research finding massively. Some of the benefits are-
1. Increased inclusivity
2. Improved data quality
3. Reduction in bias
4. Validation of concepts and ideas
5. Better data-driven decision making
6. Optimal allocation of resources
Factors Affecting Survey Response Rates
Survey response rates are affected by a multitude of factors. Sometimes we overlook some of these factors and continue making the same mistakes repeatedly. Let’s look at few such factors that are slyly affecting your survey response rates.
Factor 1- The Survey Design
- Question type chosen
- Complex language
- Misleading or confusing instructions
- Survey platforms
- Flow of the survey
- Length of the survey
- Ease of navigation
- Personalization or relevance
Factor 2- The Respondents
- Do they accurately represent the target audience?
- Recruitment and screening quality
- Type of panel
- Motivations and interests of the respondent
- Previous association with the respondent
Factor 3- Survey Management
- Incentives or rewards
11 proven tips to Increase Response Rate
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced researcher, it is important to revise and optimize your survey strategy from time to time. Low response rates can massively impact your survey and your results. With these 11 tips, you will know how to increase your response rate and gather valuable insights.
Tip 1- Incentivize your respondents
In this economy, time is money. Incentivizing your respondents through any form of reward is guaranteed to boost participation. It does not always have to be monetary, you can give out reward points, coupons or free merchandise.
Here are some other pointers you should keep in mind before coming up with a reward plan-
- Give small rewards to everyone instead of giving rewards to a select few.
- Make the reward relevant so that your respondents feel important and keep coming back.
- Give them something extra. For example, if your brand is already running a campaign for a 15% discount on shoes, don’t send the same coupons to the respondents. Instead, reward their time with additional coupons they can club with the existing offer.
Tip 2- Educate your respondents
By educating your respondents about why your survey is important and how it can change the status quo, you can make them feel like they are part of something big. Respondents who feel they are changemakers are more likely to participate in your survey.
Tip 3- Make use of Survey Templates
Survey design is a crucial aspect of any survey. You may unknowingly use the wrong question type or add too many questions and see a fall in your response rates. Using survey templates is a great way to avoid all these problems. These templates are highly customizable and can help you save a lot a time and effort.
Tip 5- Use cognitinive dissonance
By using psychological theory, you can boost your response rates. By framing the survey in a way that is in line with the respondent’s beliefs and values, they are more likely to respond.
Tip 6- Try partnering with an online panel provider
Researchers often resort to building their own research panels, to encourage survey participation. This is can be worth your buck if very large surveys are required, suitable audience is difficult to find, or you want to survey the same group multiple times.
Tip 7- Promptness
Response rates are high when the service has just been delivered. Be prompt when asking customers for feedback to ensure quick and accurate responses.
Tip 8- Select the right medium
It is critical to select the correct medium to contact respondents. For example, an email may reach respondents using mobiles and PCs, while an SMS will only reach respondents using a mobile. The questions may be embedded in the email to make responding easy.
Tip 9- Keep it short and focused
Long surveys can lead to lower response rates as respondents may get bored. It is also important that the questions are clear and the appropriate response options have been provided.
Humans like personalization. As a result, a personalized survey will fetch higher response rates. Customize the survey with information you already know about the respondent, and add a warm greeting.
If a respondent does not get back to you, it is advisable to send upto 3 reminders. Ensure that you refresh the language in each reminder so as to not make it seem like a forwarded e-mail. Find the balance between a request to respond and annoying spam.
That’s not all!
There are other steps you can take to boost your response rates. You can evaluate and optimize the tone and design of your survey, analyze the survey’s triggers, use mobile surveys etc.
You can use a research platform to seamlessly run multiple surveys, get access to survey templates and engage with the panel of your choice. You can also store and analyze all your surveys in one place, without worrying about losing your research findings ever again. This will help you get the most out of your surveys while boosting your response rates simultaneously.