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17 Ways How You Can Go 40% Higher Than Your Average Survey Response Rate!

Mathew Maniyamkott

13 November 2019

9 min read

Getting your customers to engage with you or making them reply to your feedback is a big task, a much important one at that. Creating a survey is one of the first steps to get continuous feedback from your potential and existing customers. Having a response rate that borders on the average will not do you a lot of good.

In many ways, a survey is a marketing message, which your users are bombarded with from many other brands and they are certainly not that welcome. This is where cutting through the noise becomes important so that you can get a good number of responses.

Survey response rate is defined as the percentage of the people who were sent a link to the survey and those who completed it, there is no ideal survey response rate as such because there are a lot of factors that make it possible.

In the middle of a difficulty lies opportunity. 

The Perks Of Increasing Your Survey Response Rate

  • Customers who complete your surveys feel more engaged with you and tend to be more open to your messages in the future.
  • More the respondents, higher the chances of analyzing and understanding your customers better.
  • You reduce the bias when there are more respondents.

Factors Affecting Survey Response Rates

Target Population: If you were to sell products to people in the age bracket of 50 to 70, then the survey response rate would be extremely low while the numbers will be different if your target audience is millennials or baby boomers.

Survey Invite: The body of the survey invitation is extremely important since using the right words will persuade the user to respond.

Connection with the respondents: The kind of relationship you share with your customers is also a factor in them responding. If it is your regular customer, the chances are that they will be more likely to respond because they trust you and there is a relationship already present.

Length of the survey: If you expect your users to respond to a 1-hour survey where there is no incentive for them, the response rate would be low. The lesser the amount of time it takes to complete the survey, the higher would be the response rate.

Incentives: Not all respondents are looking for some kind of returns when they fill your survey. But if the survey is too long or the target audience has specific skills that you would like to ask questions to, then you might have to sweeten the deal for them. Incentives could be a white paper, books, free consultation and so on.

Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.     

Follow-ups: All salespeople will swear by the power of follow-ups because they are so effective. If your survey software has the ability to show the users who dropped off the survey for reasons best known to them, then you can send reminder emails to them to complete the survey. More often than not, with two or three follow-ups, you significantly increase the survey response rate.

17 Ways How You Can Increase Your Survey Response Rate By 40%, Or More!

1. Conversational Interface

People like conversations and they are more likely to respond if the entire way in which the survey is taken is in the format of a casual conversation. It helps the respondents to align with your company while also keeping them highly engaged. With a chat like an interface, they will feel as if they are chatting with another human being and are more inclined to answer more honestly and give deep insights into their feedback.

2. Interesting User Experience

Imagine having to rely on a lagged software that is not at all smooth. People these days are spoilt for choice and if you don’t provide them the right UI to work with, it is going to be a tough ride for you. If you want your respondents to not drop off and take the survey without any hiccups, then you need to give them a highly engaging and easy experience. No one wants to work on a software that lags at many places.

3. Having Clarity On The Objective Behind The Survey

If you send a survey just because you can, that does not make a lot of sense and your customers would be peeved as well knowing that they are answering to a set of questions which do not even have a clear objective. Having a strong purpose behind asking questions to someone will yield results. Only when the objective is clear, would the kind of questions you ask turn out to be interesting, otherwise it will fail to engage the audience as well.

There is no limitations, except the ones you make.  

4. Making Surveys Relevant

If your target market is doctors and people in the health-related niche, then you should not be sending your surveys to architects, right? Their answers are not going to help them in any way or even add any value to you as well. People skip questions that are not relevant to them, imagine being handed surveys that are completely irrelevant to them. This is why it becomes important to know about your customer before asking them to fill out surveys. In fact, give your potential respondents an out in your survey form itself, you could ask a screening question. Use survey logic to redirect your respondents to paths that are relevant to them.

5. Providing Incentives

Sure, a lot of customers would love to help you. But not everyone has the time and most importantly, not everyone is connected to your cause. This is where you have to give them incentives to make sure that they feel obligated to finish the survey at hand. People are always motivated by returns and the “What’s in it for me?” question pops up everywhere. While you can tell them how important a particular survey is for you, giving them a small incentive has higher chances of increasing the survey response rate.

6. Sending A Pre-survey Email

While you can send surveys to your customers without a warning, you can sweeten the deal by warming them up to it. Let them know that you are going to send a survey in which you are going to ask questions which will potentially help your cause and explain to them the kind of incentives that you plan to offer them. Send a personalized email to explain the purpose of the survey.

7. Ensuring That You Don’t Get Caught In Spam Filters

Before you send a survey to your customers, make sure that the spam filters don’t catch it. Many companies send surveys in such a manner that their emails get marked as spam by the email carriers themselves. Try different combinations to ascertain that. If many of your emails are marked as spam by your customers, then your response rate will be extremely low.

8. Using Progress Bars

The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence. 

Imagine that your customers start with no idea of how much time it will take to complete the survey, there are high chances that they will drop off after a point. In fact, the chances of dropping off are always there when there is no clear timeline. When the respondent knows that it will take so much of time for the survey to get completed, they will be better prepared to allocate time and complete the survey.

9. Sending Personal Reminder Emails

If you think that your customer will reply to your survey on the first instance, you couldn’t be more wrong. This is where reminder emails become important. After you send the initial email asking them to respond to the survey, give it a few days and then send a reminder email. Do not quit with just one reminder. You can send at least 3-4 reminder emails over a period of a week. Each reminder email should have different content so that your customers are enticed to open it.

10. Not Asking For Information That You Already Have

Lots of emails start with a request for the respondent’s email ID. No, please do not ask for it. It is not only inconsiderate of your customer’s time, but it lengthens the survey process thus increasing the chances for drop off. Use the responses with the customer’s information and match them. Remember this, more the number of questions, lower the response rate.

11. Having Clear CTAs

As we have mentioned time and again, make sure that there is a clear to action for your respondents. In fact, for a survey, the only action should be to complete it. Do not confuse the respondents by instructing them to take other actions like asking them to visit your website, taking one more survey or participate in a contest. All of this will only show that you are not in a clear state and are trying to do too much in a short span.

12. Not Sending Too Many Survey Requests

Since there are many highly effective survey tools, it becomes a simple task to send surveys. So it is easy to get lost on this and send as many surveys as you want. Remember that there are a lot of companies like you and your customers would not be thrilled at the prospect of so many survey requests. In fact, if you happen to inundate their inbox with many emails, they might even unsubscribe to your newsletter. Make sure that you send nothing more than 6-10 survey emails per year, these include product, support, onboarding, and other related surveys.

13. Sticking To Best Practices

"Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small.”

This is much easier said than done. Once you have prepared all the questions intended for the survey, run it through different stakeholders. Their job should be to check the following:

  • Find inconsistencies in the questions.
  • Making sure the right questions are being asked.
  • Eliminating questions that do not add any value to this exercise.
  • To see if the questions follow a logical order.
  • See if the copy is written is perfect for the scenario.

Ensuring to follow this would be the first step towards making it a success.  

14. Using Mandatory Fields Judiciously

Your potential respondents would not be thrilled to find mandatory fields as they might not be open to sharing that particular information which you have made compulsory to fill. People like this are much more prone to dropping off. If there are questions which make a respondent answer compulsorily without completing which the survey would not progress, then ensure that you remove them.

15. Timing Your Survey Emails

No customer of yours would like to receive a request for a survey at 5 am in the morning on a Monday or any day of that matter at such an ungodly hour. When you send surveys at a time when people are open to indulge in you, then there are higher chances of converting them. Send surveys at a time when people are relatively free to respond and not during peak times. Also, keep in mind that different niches work in different time zones.

16. Working On The Feedback

If you expect your customers to spend a significant amount of time responding to your survey, then it is imperative that you work on the feedback that they have given. Because if you don’t do some significant changes based on the feedback, they would not pay attention to the next survey you send them. If they realize that the feedback that they have given lies in the back burner, you can be assured that the response rate to your next survey is going to be pretty low. But if you happen to make at least one or two changes based on the feedback and communicate the same to them, you will certainly find more people responding next time since they know that you keep your promises and value their inputs.

17. Keeping It Simple

Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. 

Do not try to be one up than your customers by introducing fancy words and unnecessary jargons that would be difficult for them to comprehend. Not only would this drag the survey time, but a customer who does not understand might also find it irritating and can drop off immediately. Ask questions and question types that do not take up too much time and will give you a lot of insights. Also, do not use complex sentence construction, double negatives or use long sentences. Complex questions also mean that there are chances of misinterpretation leading to wrong responses.


We have described a few ways using which you can increase the response rate to your survey. It is a numbers game, more the response rate, the better is the kind of data that you receive. Surveys that have higher response rates eliminates the effect that people who miss out on it make on the outcome of a survey. While you get to learn more about your customers, a higher response rate would help to improve the chances of understanding your customers more accurately.

Make sure that the survey is crafted in such a way that it is attractive for the respondent to take the effort. Find a balance that works for you and the respondent in such a way that it maintains an above average survey response rate.

Mathew Maniyamkott

Guest Blogger at SurveySparrow

Regular contributor to various magazines. Passionate about entrepreneurship, startups, marketing, and productivity.

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