Our surveys come with superpowers ⚡

Blog Best Of

10 Smart Hacks to Increase Survey Response Rate

Clare Zacharias

13 February 2024

9 min read

Have you ever sent out a survey with so much hope brimming, only to be met with an underwhelming response? If yes, you’re not alone. This appears to be all too common. The key to turning this around?

Improving your survey response rate!

So, in this blog, that’s what we’ll cover. The why, how, and what of improving your survey responses

 What is a Survey Response Rate?

A survey response rate can be defined as a measure that indicates the percentage of people who complete a survey or questionnaire out of the total number of individuals to whom the survey was distributed or sent.

Simply put, the survey response rate is like a participation scorecard. It tells you the percentage of people who actually filled out your survey compared to how many received it. In essence, it measures how engaged people are with your survey. Naturally, the higher the response rate, the more thumbs-up your survey gets!

But don’t mix it up with survey completion rates. The completion rate goes a step further and tells you how many people not only started but also finished the whole survey. So, the response rate is the first step, and the completion rate is the finish line – both are important for understanding how your survey is doing.

Why is Survey Response Rate So Important?

Survey response rates aren’t just another metric from which you glance over and move on. They’re a loud, glaring signal about your survey’s relevance and the connection you have with your audience. More so, it validates and empowers your research in ways that can shape strategies and drive actionable results.

If you’re still on the fence, we hope these advantages of response rates sway you into making your mind up.

Benefits of High Survey Response Rates

  1. Reliable Data: Numbers speak volumes. So naturally, a better response rate means a larger data set, leading to more accurate representations of your audience’s feelings and behaviors.
  2. Confident Decision-making: As businesses use survey data to make pivotal decisions, a higher response rate provides more comprehensive statistical data, strengthening the foundation for setting benchmarks and progression goals.
  3. Cost Efficiency Realized: With more respondents, your cost per response decreases, maximizing the return on investment.
  4. Versatile Insights: A high response rate across various survey platforms—from online to mobile to social media—ensures you capture a more comprehensive range of audience preferences, giving you a more flexible and holistic view of the market sentiment.
  5. Trend Tracking with Precision: Spotting trends requires consistent and vast data. A strong response rate means you get a clearer, unskewed picture of industry shifts, allowing you to anticipate market needs and changes better.


What’s a Good Survey Response Rate?

Ah, we saved the best for the last.

While there’s no size-fit-all number when it comes to the best survey response rate for a survey, if you’re trying to nail down an average survey response rate, 20% to 30% would be your best bet. If you’re getting anything under 10%, that is considered pretty low. Is it garnering above 50%? That’s golden!

Here’s the deal. Pinning down an ‘average’ survey response rate isn’t straightforward, given the many variables that influence each survey. But if there’s one lesson you take away from this, let it be that what truly matters is the total quality responses you garner, not just the completion rate.

Let that sink in. For instance, an impressive 80% completion rate isn’t so stellar if it’s only out of 30 participants, leaving you with just 24 complete answers. So, always aim to reach a broader audience. This way, even with lower response rates, you’ll still have a meaningful sample size.

What is the Average Survey Response Rate?

The average response rate for surveys usually falls between 20-30%. This rate can vary widely based on factors like the survey’s relevance to the target audience, the method of distribution, the length of the survey, and the level of engagement required. Email surveys often see lower response rates compared to other methods.

How to Calculate Survey Response Rate?

To calculate your survey response rate, divide the number of completed survey responses by the total number of surveys sent out, then multiply by 100 to get a percentage.

For instance, if you sent out 100 surveys and received 25 responses, your response rate is  25/100×100=25%

Here is the calculation formula for the survey response rate presented in a simple table format:

1. Count Completed ResponsesTotal number of surveys that received a response.
2. Count Total Surveys SentTotal number of surveys sent out to respondents.
3. Apply FormulaDivide the number of completed responses by the total surveys sent, then multiply by 100 to get the percentage.

If you’re looking for a tool to make survey management and analysis easier, SurveySparrow can be a great asset. It helps create engaging surveys that can boost your response rates and provides detailed analytics to understand and improve your response rates over time.

Try it for free now! 

With SurveySparrow, tracking and enhancing your survey performance becomes more streamlined and effective.

Read More: How to Calculate Survey Response Rate

What are the factors that influence survey response rates?

Numerous factors impact survey response rates. Let’s quickly recap what we’ve discussed

Survey Design

+The nature of the survey itself
+The format of the survey (online, paper, or phone-based).
+How easy it is for participants to complete.
+The clarity of the provided instructions
+The wording of the questions
+The types of questions used (some can be mentally taxing)
+The overall flow and logic of the survey
+The subject matter of the survey (sensitive or niche topics may yield lower responses)
+The survey’s length and complexity

Respondent Factors

+The motivation of respondents to participate.
+The level of interest respondents have in the survey.
+Prior interactions and relationships with respondents (previous participation).
+Membership in survey panels, which often results in higher response rates.
+The quality of the recruitment process.
+The wording of the invitation email (if applicable).
+Demographic factors, including education and lifestyle

Recruitment and Panel Management

+How respondents perceive your brand and its visibility, especially in the survey invitation
+Respondents’ confidence in the survey’s anonymity
+The perceived security and legitimacy of the survey
+The effectiveness of reminder emails and follow-up communications
+The presence of incentives or rewards to encourage completion

Survey Response Rate

10 Tips to Increase Your Survey Response Rates

No more wondering how to increase your survey response rate. We’ve sifted through the strategies and honed in on the most effective, tried-and-tested, and sure-shot ways to amplify participation like never before.

1. Keep Them Short and Simple

Remember the two-page long questionnaires you used to send people? Big mistake! Never stuff your surveys with long-winded questions and a dizzying list of options. That is a surefire way to get a low response rate.

Short and simple surveys wouldn’t scare the respondents away. Most people won’t mind if it takes them only a couple of minutes. Remember to make your survey questions precise and concise.

2. Limit Open-Ended Questions to a Minimum

I agree that open-ended questions sometimes deliver the most insightful responses. But not always.

Stuffing your survey with a list of open-ended questions will only put off even those who want to help you with feedback. By all means, include open-ended questions, but use them carefully.

3. Have an Engaging UI

Before you press that ‘Share’ button, ask yourself. Would you happily answer this survey even if you had no stakes in it? If you are doubtful, you already know the study is in poor taste.

Hence, an engaging UI is essential. Don’t use interfaces that’ll rock your audience to sleep. A conversational UI can do wonders for your survey completion rates. Survey platforms that offer a chat-like user experience have been proven to raise the typical survey response rate by a staggering 40%!

Make your surveys look alive and engaging with SurveySparrow. Sign up for your free 14-day trial and create your very own chat-like survey.

4. Use Opinions Scales Liberally

Ha, opinion scales! Opinion scales are those intelligent question types that require the respondents to choose from a scale/range of answers.

Use them liberally because they require the least effort from the audience but provide precise data. Since too much of anything is bad, put them to optimum use, but cleverly.

5. Be Polite

A no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at the number of people who get it wrong. Strangers have asked me with a questionnaire on my way to work to divulge my monthly income! Why would I ever tell them that?

Acknowledge that the survey respondents do not owe it to you to complete your survey. They are doing you a favor, and the least you can do is to be polite. Start with a pleasant greeting, ask non-offensive questions, and end with a warm thank-you.

“Your survey respondents are doing you a favor by offering their feedback. The least you can do is to ask non-offensive questions.” 

6. Provide an Incentive

Studies suggest that people are more likely to complete a survey if offered a tangible benefit. A little something like a gift card or discharge coupon is more than a reward for completing the survey. They also indicate that you value and are grateful for the time of the survey respondents. Win-win!

Do not overdo survey incentives, though. Giving away many gifts might attract the wrong crowd that cares only about what’s in it for them. Strike a careful balance with a survey incentive that is valuable enough to be appreciated but not enough to purchase responses for you.

7. Personalize Your Surveys

Craft beautiful surveys with instinctive and relevant questions. There is something about being addressed by your name, and being paid attention when you are talking. Online survey tools with advanced features let you ask questions based on the survey response to questions preceding that.

SurveySparrow has Question Piping, Contact Param, and Custom Param to personalize questions for each respondent. In effect, the survey questions are as close to real, one-to-one conversations as possible.

8. Opt for Mobile-Friendly Designs

In today’s on-the-go world, it’s a sin not to have a mobile-responsive survey. Think of those who might open your survey link while commuting, during a coffee break, or just lounging. A mobile-friendly interface ensures your survey looks sharp and is easy to navigate. Remember, convenience is king!

9. Time It Right

Timing can make or break your response rate. Imagine sending a survey about online shopping habits on a Monday morning – not quite the ideal match, right? Analyze when your audience is most active and receptive. Some studies suggest that mid-week, especially Wednesday, gets the highest engagement. But don’t just go by the general trend; know your audience and pick the optimal moment for your niche.

10. Set Clear Expectations Upfront

Before diving into the questions, give your respondents a brief overview. How long will the survey take? What’s it about? Why is their feedback valuable? Setting the stage ensures participants know what they’re signing up for, reducing drop-offs midway. A little transparency goes a long way in building trust and keeping participants engaged until the end.

How do I know my survey response rate?

To calculate your survey response rate, you can  use the following formula-

Survey Response Rate Formula

Response Rate (%) = (Number of Completed Surveys / Total Number of Surveys Sent) x 100

Steps to Calculate Your Survey Response Rate
  1. Count the total number of people you sent your survey to. This includes all potential respondents, whether they completed the survey or not.
  2. Determine how many people completed your survey. These are the individuals who filled out and submitted the survey.
  3. Use the formula above to calculate the response rate. First, divide the number of completed surveys by the total number of surveys sent, then multiply the result by 100 to express it as a percentage.

For example, you sent out 200 surveys, and 50 people completed them.

Response Rate (%) = (50 / 200) x 100 = 25%

Alternatively, you can go the easy route and use an online survey software like SurveySparrow that will not only help you launch your survey but also give you real-time insights, help you drill down data, and make the most of your survey.

Try SurveySparroe for Free!

How can a Tool Like SurveySparrow Help Increase Your Survey Response Rate?

SurveySparrow offers a 40% higher survey response rate than traditional survey tools. This significant increase can be attributed to several key features and approaches of their platform:
  • Conversational Interface: SurveySparrow utilizes a chat-like interface for surveys, making them more engaging and interactive than standard formats. This conversational style can make surveys feel less like a chore and more like a friendly exchange, encouraging more respondents to complete them.
  • Personalization and Customization: The ability to personalize and customize surveys with SurveySparrow allows for a more targeted approach. Tailoring questions and design to the audience can significantly increase relevance and response rates.

survey response rate

  • User-Friendly Experience: The platform focuses on creating a seamless and user-friendly experience for both survey creators and respondents. Easy navigation, clear question formats, and an aesthetically pleasing design contribute to a higher completion rate.
  • Multi-Channel Distribution: SurveySparrow supports distribution across various channels, including email, social media, and web embeds. This multi-channel approach broadens the reach and accessibility of surveys, catering to people’s preferences and increasing responses.
  • Mobile Optimization: With many users accessing content on mobile devices, SurveySparrow’s mobile-optimized surveys ensure that respondents have a hassle-free experience on any device, boosting response rates.
  • Reminders and Follow-ups: Automated reminders and follow-ups help nudge those who might have missed or forgotten to complete the survey, increasing the response rate.

By combining these elements, SurveySparrow aims to make survey experiences more enjoyable and less tedious, which can lead to more people completing the surveys and, thus, a higher response rate.


Wrapping Up

And there you have it. With these 10 tips, you’re well on your way to boosting survey response rates like never before.

But you don’t have to stop here.  In addition to these tips, you can explore the convenience of SurveySparrow’s survey templates. They’ll turbocharge your survey design and deployment, making the journey more exciting and efficient. Good luck!

Clare Zacharias

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow.

A sort of Jill-of-all-trades! Enchanted with storytelling, fascinated with startup life.

Cherry-picked blog posts.
The best of the best.

Leave us your email, we wont spam. Promise!

Start your free trial today

No Credit Card Required. 14-Day Free Trial

Try For Free

Request a Demo

Want to learn more about SurveySparrow? We'll be in touch soon!

Request Demo