Increasing your Survey Response Rate

A Survey Response Rate, according to the best definition, is the number of people who answered a survey, divided by the number of people in the sample, that is those who were subjected to the survey. In business, the number of people you can get to take your survey are your survey response rate and the amount you make feedback off.

survey response rate


If you are looking to increase the survey response rate of your surveys, chances are you have already reached that frustrating moment when you realize most research on the matter is sketchy and sources usually list the same solutions without being too specific on the effects they may have.

Indeed there are several factors to take into account when creating and planning a survey, and these can be covered with the right approach to each. General info on the subject that you can find on the web goes something like this:

When designing your survey you have to remember that the first impression is on what most users will base their decision. It is a good idea to state your intent at this first point as that can incentivize your respondents, or if you have the means for it, engage them additionally with some gain you can offer them, like a voucher or discount. Make sure the respondents are truly engaged by keeping your lingo appropriate to the target of your survey. Keep that engagement for longer by making your survey visually pleasing and concise. Remember that all these rules might not apply if the survey is targeted to the wrong respondent. So target smartly, make sure the survey appears to the right target and at the right time.

There, I saved you some time by writing in one paragraph the bulk of info given by most sources on the same subject. These are the solutions most popularly listed.

Indeed, I can attest to many of them. There are several surefire ways of increasing your survey response rates. However, the effects depend on how well you mix those methods together, and which methods you skip. The first important step to take is to ask yourself the following question:

“What Kind of survey am I making?”

This extensive 2018 Customer Service Report shows perfectly how important customer satisfaction is. You can see that Tech companies have consistently highest customer satisfaction and I believe this is because SaaS companies with inbound business models fall into this spectrum.

Companies that, ideally, believe customer satisfaction should not only be measured but deciphered and understood. If you are going for a Net Promoter Score® or Customer Satisfaction survey and you aim to increase your customer satisfaction or to measure the success of your well-established product, then the following steps have priority over others:

Minimalistic but aesthetic design, no more than two questions and an unobtrusive way of displaying the survey.

While, if you are making a questionnaire that has several questions and requires your respondents to take their time, your priorities shift:

You need the survey to be engaging, both visually and contextually.

This is not to say that design is not important in an NPS. But it does mean that you focus on ease of access and pleasing aesthetics rather than flashy and engaging. You need an NPS to be easy and quick for your respondent so excess will work against you. Likewise, you can still gain from embedding the first part of your questionnaire in your emails as it almost guarantees a larger response to at least the first question.

The second question you need to ask yourself is:

“How will I distribute my survey?”

Another point that many sources out there fail to mention, mostly because they do not offer a large plethora of features that this point necessitates. Hosting a survey on your website, potentially right on a part of your website the survey entails, can be very beneficial to the survey response rate. So, a well-targeted survey can collect well-targeted feedback.

However, this is most effective when your respondent is motivated by the content he is looking at and when your question is asked properly. For example, if you have a help or faq section on your website, you can include a survey about it, asking if your users found the assistance they were looking for or to tell you what they did not find. Check out some more good examples of website survey questions brought to you by Survicate.

If you are sending your survey via email, then skip links that redirect to a questionnaire somewhere else, place the first question of your survey right in the body of the email. This way you will have guaranteed a larger response to at least the first question.

Generally, short email surveys and customer satisfaction surveys benefit most out of removing friction from the first question. Therefore, sending them in an email is extremely beneficial to increase the survey response rate.

I have a case study to back this one up with.  A customer of ours was running NPS Surveys through a service that offered beautifully designed questionnaires. The customer would spread links in their emails asking the users to fill in the survey located on the service host page.

These questionnaires were, to be honest, marvelous. Large format taking most of the respondent’s attention, well constructed with a font that played well with the background and colors. Transitions between questions were animated in a very minimalist fashion. They did a lot to keep the respondents engaged.

Yet the customer was not getting the results they expected. The response rate was oscillating at 6% best. You can imagine what that does to the validity of results. And the frustration that came with it. The thing is, how awesome the tool was, it was the wrong tool for the job. An NPS needs to be quick and easy, not flashy and slow.

This person’s customers may have needed the questionnaire to be engaging if they indeed needed a questionnaire. The form is not adaptable well to an NPS survey which really should only contain two questions. The ease of use was broken twice here. Firstly, it required to be clicked out of the inbox first which is a wall a lot of respondents will not scale willingly. Second, once they got to the questionnaire, it had a question too many.

This person gained a much larger survey response rate with Survicate because we gave them a tool to embed their surveys right inside their emails, instantly addressing the first problem. Secondly, it respected the respondents’ time and thus was able to collect so much more of that delicious feedback.

Generally, you need to structure and construct your survey accordingly to its goal and use the right tools for the right job. Then apply two shots of common sense on top and take it for a spin. Don’t just test if your survey works, put yourself in the shoes of the least likely respondent to answer your survey, in fact, run it several times with different mindsets and see if you can improve it further. A respondent will start and finish a survey if:

  • He is well incentivized to do so, he cares about the intent of the survey or the prize waiting at the end of it.
  • He finds it fun or it engages them at this particular time.
  • He has an emotionally backed opinion and see’s an opportunity to share it

With Survicate we provide you with an extensive library of templates already designed with efficiency and response rates in mind. But it is up to you to design them further according to your product, brand or goal. Keep questionnaires engaging, pretty and, if possible, fun. Keep all surveys aimed at customers brief and well informed on their aim.

And if your survey does not match any industry-standard, think very hard on who your respondents are and then put on a lab-coat and start testing.

The truth is that we have only recently moved away from treating surveys as a chore. We may find new ways of presenting, designing and interpreting surveys. Still, when you run into a survey on the internet, in most cases it is a bit of a relic, brought into the internet age dressed in its old duster.

As you can see from this study, a lot of methods, interpretations, and solutions that are standard today were still applicable to phone surveys for decades. And as technology grows, so do our views and expectations. Today we consider a survey response rate of 30% an amazing one. But we can surely achieve 80% with the right kind of ingenuity.

No matter how chipper the wording on the internet may be, this field of study is still wild and needs pioneers. At Survicate we created new ways of designing and presenting surveys, optimizing and developing further with the aim of meeting our customer’s goals. But alongside providing one of the most popular survey software available, we created a space and tools to test the field extensively, to showcase ingenuity and creativity.


I invite you to get excited about the feedback the way we do. To test, experiment, deduce, decipher, study your samples and create the most responsive surveys out there. And if you are still struggling, Survicate offers you a wonderful Customer Success team dedicated to helping our users reach their goals. And reaching these goals often means increasing the survey response rate of their surveys first. Hit us up and we will work on them together.

Michael Litwin

Content Writer at Survicate

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