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    How to Increase Your Online Survey Response Rates

    Good response rates to your online surveys are fundamental when researching the opinions, likes and dislikes of your customers. In order to achieve higher survey response rates, there are some factors that you should be aware of. Here we outline some important benefits of well-designed online questionnaires…

    The most vital factor is the relevancy of the survey topic. Respondents will ask themselves “Why am I taking part in this survey?” Relevancy is the most persuasive argument in encouraging people to take part in surveys. Secondly, and perhaps equally important, is providing an incentive as motivation for participation in online questionnaires. However, the subject of incentives is a tricky one! By providing specific enticements, organisations may attract the attention of only a certain type of respondent, meaning the sample information obtained may be largely biased.


    What are good survey response rates?

    Although it has been proved by research that low response rates do not necessarily result in inferior quality data, it is widely accepted that the higher the percentage of people taking the survey, the better the response rates. The significance of high response rates is that they provide more extensive information on customers’ opinions, wishes, demands and recommendations.

    According to the BMJ in their article on planning and conducting a survey ‘The level of response that is acceptable depends both on the study question and on the population in which the question is being asked’.

    Best use of survey invitations

    To persuade people to take surveys online in order to achieve adequate survey response rates, survey invitations are an effective way to distribute your survey. Best practice measures for motivating people to take surveys include;

    • Personalise invitations
    • Include short invitations with a clear message
    • Explain the reason for the survey and
    • Clarify what the data will be used for

    Another helpful tip to get good survey response rates is to remember that targeting customers with whom you already have a business relationship with tends to have higher response rate than focusing on customers who don’t know you. It is often pointed out that the online survey response rate is directly proportional to the strength of the relationship between a company and the respondents.

    5 top tips for better survey response rates

    Online Survey Tip #1 - Reassure respondents that their privacy will be protected, they will be more likely to respond to surveys and express their opinions.

    Online Survey Tip #2 - Send reminders to customers invited to take part who have not yet completed the survey. Respondents are likely to be busy and not available when invitations are sent, reminders can help to persuade them to participate at a time that is more convenient for them.

    Online Survey Tip #3 - Do not make surveys too long otherwise you run the risk of survey abandonment. Make sure your questions are clear and well worded and that you are asking relevant questions that will help you meet your objectives.

    Online Survey Tip #4 - Don’t overload respondents with too many requests to take part in surveys. If you have more than one team sending out surveys, make sure two surveys aren’t sent at the same time.

    Online Survey Tip #5 – Use survey logic to only show relevant questions to the respondent in order to save them time, nobody likes having to answer irrelevant questions! You can also tailor the survey by using piping to insert previous answers into later questions, like names and addresses.

    How to include partial survey responses in reporting

    Reporting on partial responses will help you to identify where respondents are dropping out of your survey. This is helpful to know so that you can improve the survey in order to get better response rates.

    Steps to include partial responses

    1. On My Surveys page, click Results next to the survey with partial responses.

    2. Click on the partial number

    1 Partial response

    3. Click Force Complete Response to mark the partial response as complete.

    2 partial response


    1. Once you have confirmed the action, the response will be moved to the completed responses section.

    The results you collect from online surveys can help give you a better understanding of your customers. This increased insight will help you make better decisions and in turn, increase the long-term success of your business.

    As leadership guru, Tony Robbins said – ‘Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers’.
    Editor’s note: This post was originally published in July 2012 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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    About Author

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    Phil Cleave

    Phil is part of the Content team at SmartSurvey and has over 20 years experience in the PR and Comms sector writing for Tech Companies.

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