In order to achieve a satisfactory response rate for a survey project, it is important to plan how to engage participants and motivate them to complete the survey.
The first thing to consider is a target response rate. The target will depend on many factors, including the nature of the relationship between the respondent and the subject or organization that the survey is about.
The target audience will influence the response rate
In general, there are two basic audiences for any type of survey: Internal and External. It’s important to know who is your intended audience for your survey.
An internal audience is typically made up of employees or people that belong to a particular organization. Surveys sent to internal audiences tend to have much higher response rates compared to those sent to external audiences while external surveys tend to have much less engagement.
Let’s say a company issues an internal survey to its workers to learn what their challenges are. In this instance, it’s easy to see how the employees may be eager to provide this feedback. It’s a chance for workers to tell management what can be improved. Also, if they help the company make more money, then maybe they will see some of it.
An external audience will be drawn from a more general population, such as customers or suppliers. Getting an external audience, like customers, to respond to surveys is typically more difficult. Their motivation is likely to be lower than an internal audience.
External audiences may not see the benefit to them in completing a survey. Even when targeting specific groups of customers (such as those who made a purchase in the last 30 days) and offering a reward for their participation, you still might not receive strong response rates. It’s possible the customer isn’t interested in the free gift you’re offering, or that they already own something similar.
Here are some ways to help achieve your target response rate.
Be clear about the value
When people understand how their survey responses will be used, they are more likely to give up their time to help. Communicating this is very important. It is also very important to be clear about any survey incentives that could be attached to a response.
- Why someone should take your survey
- How long it really takes to complete: Test it!
- The number of questions in it
- What happens to the data. Is it anonymous? And if not, how is their data stored safely?
There are ways you can do this in-survey, too. Make sure the survey aims are clear in the invitation, instructions and welcome. Keep them updated with progress; share the collective results at the end; and keep in touch about how the survey is used.
Keep it short
Shorter surveys get more engagement. Research shows that the ideal survey should take five minutes or less to complete. Respondents typically complete five close-ended questions per minute, or two open-ended questions per minute. Keeping surveys brief helps your respondents to avoid “survey fatigue.”
Continue engaging anyone who hasn’t finished it
Ideally, every survey will have a progress bar that lets the respondent know how close they are to finishing. But, people are busy and can’t always finish a survey they’ve started. Don’t let them slip away! Send a few gentle reminders by email to let them know they’re almost done, and how much you value their feedback. Space out the reminders by a few days, send them at different times to re-engage them.
Make life easy for respondents
The fastest way to disengage people is to make things hard, boring, or irrelevant. When people have to skip over lots of questions that don’t fit them, they’re more likely to abandon your survey. The experience on every device is also critical. Test your surveys on different platforms, screen sizes and devices. That’s the best way to ensure everyone has a great experience (and not a bad one).
Ask the right questions
Go back to the purpose of your survey, and only ask questions that are directly relevant to your purpose. If gender isn’t relevant, don’t ask! If location isn’t relevant, don’t ask! It’s tempting to collect extra information just because you can. But your recipients will thank you for sticking to the point.
Put yourself in their shoes
How would you feel if you received your survey and its communications? Would you feel that it’s easy to complete? Simple to use? A good experience? Is it enjoyable, even? Survey invitations need to be inviting. It’s hard to stay on top of this kind of empathy, especially when there are many hands in the pie. Ultimately it’s in your best interest: It gives you better data. The morethat your people feel you understand them, the better the responses you’ll get.
Great design helps everyone
Good, well designed surveys with great questions help everyone involved. This goes for your respondents, but also for those analysing data. As they say, bad surveys will get you data; it’s whether you can truly benefit from it that is the question.
Share some of your results if appropriate
A simple way to encourage people is to offer respondents the opportunity to see survey results. Or, if they are going to be made public, the opportunity to see them before everyone else.
Very often, concerns about survey data giving you a competitive advantage are assumed and unfounded. In fact, many companies – including the largest consulting companies in the world – retain advantage because they share the results of their surveys.
Contact Spark Chart if you need help to make sure your survey project is a success. Or sign up for the Spark Chart survey software to make the process easy. Here is a summary of Spark Chart survey software features.