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    Top Tips to Improve Your Online Survey Response Rates

    Whether it’s market research to help with new product development, feedback from your customers to measure their satisfaction with your product or service; or wanting to know how your employees feel about your business – there can be many reasons why you might want to conduct an online survey. However, if the volume and quality of your responses is not providing an acceptable survey response rate, it can be more difficult to draw any useful conclusions from your results and subsequently put any effective follow-up actions and processes in place.

    While research suggests average response rates can vary depending on the survey type, which can be as much as a 30-40% response rate for internal surveys compared to a 10-15% response for external ones, it is generally agreed that the higher your overall response rate and feedback quality, the more reliable your findings will be.

    Five Ways You Can Boost Your Online Survey Response Rates 

    1) Know your audience 

    From a web page, email or SMS, to a desktop, laptop or mobile device, the preferred method for

    A crowd of people representing an audience - knowing your audience can help to boost online survey response rates

    your target audience to receive and complete your survey, can vary greatly depending on their demographics. For instance, due to the changing technology landscape there is a consensus that younger adults tend to have shorter attention spans than older generations. So, in such a scenario an SMS survey distributed via a mobile phone to a younger audience, would be more likely to elicit a good survey response rate than an email survey. 

    The SMS surveys carried out by our customer IKEA, highlights just how effective this approach can be. Since introducing their SMS survey solution strategy in 2016, response rates for the retailer continue to improve year on year.

    2) Make it easy and enticing to read 

    Two professionals completing a online survey on a tablet

    A clear and engaging survey can make a massive difference to how many responses you can obtain. From your tone of voice and the complexity of your wording, to your use of smart features including skip logic and piping, which can intelligently skip questions or re-use information based on a respondent’s previous answers. While there’s a lot to consider, there’s a lot you can do to make your survey as enticing, relevant and as simple to understand for respondents to complete. Get more ideas to help you with this from our questionnaire design page.

    3) Choose the right length and mix of survey questions 

    A woman with question marks around her head representing the right mix and length of survey questionsWhile there is a general belief that shorter surveys work best, with certainly no more than between 10 to 15 questions in a five-minute survey, some can be longer depending on the survey type and complexity of your subject matter.

    Thinking about your mix of questions can help with this. From matrix, Likert and multiple choice to dropdown and open-ended questions. Mixing up your survey questions can not only help you when you have a lot you need to cover off, but can help keep your respondents interested and fully engaged until the end of your survey.




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    4) Reassure your respondents about their data privacy 

    The GDPR shield representing the importance of reassuring survey respondents about their data privacy Today’s respondents are a lot more clued up about the issues around data privacy and expect to see what steps an organisation is taking to protect this. By reassuring respondents that you will protect their data privacy and detailing the processes you have in place to ensure this, the more likely they will be to respond to your survey.

    At SmartSurvey we take data protection extremely seriously and are not only certified with the Data Protection Act, but also comply with the current GDPR laws governing the safe collection, use and storage of personal data. In addition, as an ISO27001 accredited business we have some of the most robust industry processes and infrastructures in place to secure our customers’ data including hosting in a secure, UK based data centre. 

    5) Identify methods to help encourage your survey's completion 

    A woman with her phone connect to multiple channels representing how picking the right channel can improve online survey response ratesMany respondents could be busy or unavailable when you send your initial survey invitation to them, so reminders which can reach them at a more convenient time offer a very effective way of boosting your overall response rate. Similarly, incentives whether that’s a free entry into a prize draw, or something a bit more relevant to the audience you are targeting can also result in a greater response rate. In addition, putting a progress bar within your survey can be beneficial, particularly for longer surveys, by giving respondents a clearer idea about what percentage of the survey is left to complete. While it can take up some extra time during the planning stage; identifying and implementing steps to improve your online survey response rates can pay dividends with regards to the volume and quality of responses you receive and what you are able to achieve going forward.


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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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