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What are the three most effective ways to boost survey response rates?

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(© sitthiphong – stock.adobe.com)

A lot of companies survey their customers and consumers, so survey fatigue can creep in. So how do you increase survey response rates? Find out how to do just that with the tips offered below, and remember to use an effective email survey tool to track your results.

Craft Your Main Message Carefully

People get a ton of emails, so if you want them to complete your survey, you must carefully write your survey message. You want them to WANT to complete your survey. How do you do that?

  • Start your message with something like, ‘we really want to know what you think.’ Stress that you value the person’s opinion, and discuss how their responses will affect the products you offer or the content you deliver to them. Be specific, so they know that you’re going to take their feedback and put it to good use.
  • Another option is to start with: ‘Can you take five minutes to complete this survey?’ Show respect for their time by telling them how long it will take to do your survey. And don’t guess – ask someone who hasn’t seen the survey to time how long it takes to complete.

Also: Keep the survey short and sweet. Research suggests that 45% of people who take surveys will spend up to five minutes on the task. But only ⅓ will spend 10 minutes.

Offer Incentives

Goodwill goes a long way, but it isn’t always enough. If you’re struggling to get survey responses, offer incentives to increase responses:

  • Gift cards and discounts: You’ll always see response rates soar when you offer cash! Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to providing incentives; some people just race through the survey to get their gift cards. But research shows that most people who say they take surveys to get something in return, 95% said they’d give honest answers most or all of the time. Just ensure your incentive appeals to all the people you’re targeting. For instance, a gift card from Target or Wal-Mart may appeal to more people than an offer for Chuck-e-Cheese.
  • Offer to show survey results: If you don’t have the money for incentives, consider sharing your full survey results with all survey takers. Many people are curious about how their responses compare with others.

Never Waste Anyone’s Time

It’s essential to put yourself in the survey taker’s shoes. Would you complete a survey that doesn’t let you say ‘doesn’t apply’ or skip what’s irrelevant to you?

For instance, if you don’t drink soda, answering survey questions about your soda habits is of no use. And the answers provided won’t help you. You can use the following ways to keep every survey relevant to your audience:

  • Give them a way out: If you don’t have enough data on your survey takers, you can use a screening question to direct them. Here’s a way to do it:

How often do you drink Diet Coke?

  • Several times per day
  • Once per day
  • A few times per week
  • A few times per year
  • Never

If your survey respondents choose ‘never,’ you can direct them to the end of your survey and thank them for taking the time. This way, you don’t collect opinions on Diet Coke from people who never drink it.

  • Put them on the correct path: What if you want to learn why those people don’t like to drink Diet Coke? Perhaps they are worried about the acid effect on their teeth or don’t like the flavor. If you want to market a new soda to your audience, utilize survey logic for those who choose ‘never’ to give them another set of questions.

If you follow these simple tips, you’ll see more response rates and better data.


Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press