How to Increase Survey Response Rates: 18 Actionable Tips

How to Increase Survey Response Rates: 18 Actionable Tips cover

Wondering how to increase survey response rates?

Look no further! This article will show you practical tips you can start implementing today. Getting quality survey responses is a big deal when measuring user sentiment.

With enough customers responding to your surveys, you’ll gather quality data on how to make your product better. It will lead to increased user satisfaction and retention, among other benefits.

Let’s get right in.

TL;DR

  • A survey response rate is the number of people that completed your survey compared to the number that received it.
  • Customer survey response rate = Number of people who completed the survey / total number of people you sent it to x 100.
  • The average survey response rate varies based on a number of factors. So, create benchmarks tailored to your unique situation and aim for constant improvement.

Importance of high survey response rates:

  1. Higher data quality and accuracy: A low response rate means only a fraction of your intended audience gave feedback. Since that fraction may not represent the thoughts of the rest of your customers, the feedback is not actionable.
  2. Strong customer relationships: Your customers like to feel heard and valued. A well-crafted survey tells them their opinions are important, and it will make them trust you more.
  3. Gather meaningful feedback: When you have many respondents, you’ll have enough data to know exactly what customers think and feel. Your data analysis will be precise and help you make important business decisions.

18 ways to increase your survey responses:

  1. Personalize your survey templates to your target audience.
  2. Use segmentation to reach specific users.
  3. Clearly state the purpose of the survey to get users to respond quickly.
  4. Keep surveys short and focused.
  5. Use incentives to motivate respondents.
  6. Show a progress bar.
  7. Pre-notify your customers.
  8. Show gratitude to your respondents.
  9. Use different surveys in the right context.
  10. Include open-ended questions.
  11. Use different channels to collect customer feedback.
  12. Collect feedback at each customer lifecycle stage.
  13. Avoid bias in your survey questions.
  14. Don’t use double-barrelled questions.
  15. Avoid loaded questions.
  16. Make it easy for customers to provide feedback whenever they want.
  17. Use gamification in your surveys.
  18. Close the feedback loop.

What is a survey response rate?

A survey response rate is the number of people that completed your survey compared to the number that received it. Response rates are generally expressed in percentages.

How to calculate the survey response rate?

To calculate the survey response rate, use this simple formula:

Response rate = Number of people who completed the survey / total number of people you sent it to x 100.

Imagine your survey targeted 1200 customers, and only 720 completed it. Your response rate would be 720/1200 x 100 = 60%.

What is the average survey response rate?

It’s tricky because it depends on so many variables. Response rates vary by industry, target audience, survey length, channels used (social media, email, in-app), etc.

A survey response rate of around 30% is good, but again, that depends on your sample size. If you have an audience of thousands and only about 30% respond, that’s not a good survey response rate.

So, rather than think of averages, simply benchmark your rates based on your unique situation and keep improving.

Importance of high survey response rates among customer surveys

Although there aren’t specific benchmarks, you should always aim for high survey response rates. Below are good reasons why:

  • Higher data quality and accuracy: Think about it. A low response rate means only a fraction of your intended audience gave feedback. The chances of error are higher since that fraction may not represent the thoughts of the rest of your customers.
  • Strong personal relationship between business and customer: Your customers like to feel heard and valued. A well-crafted survey tells them their opinions matter and will make them trust you more.
  • Gather meaningful feedback: When you have many survey respondents, you’ll have enough data to know exactly what customers think and feel. Your data analysis will be precise and help you make important business decisions.

How to increase survey response rates in SaaS

Low response rates undermine the whole goal of feedback collection. Every company should aim to increase response rates, and the strategies below will help:

Personalize your survey templates to your target audience

Personalization plays a key role from acquisition to retention, and moving customers to fill out survey forms isn’t an exception.

Use welcome surveys to learn more about your customers and identify their roles, goals, etc., and use that information to further personalize your surveys.

postify-welcome-survey-how-to-increase-survey-response-rates
Create a welcome survey with Userpilot.

Use segmentation to reach specific users

Segmentation makes personalization easy. Segment your survey respondents into different groups to ask specific questions.

For instance, you can choose to survey only new users, people who gave you low NPS ratings, customers who just downgraded their accounts, etc.

The right question in the proper context will avoid friction and motivate your users to answer immediately.

user-segmentation-how-to-increase-survey-response-rates
Easy customer segmentation in Userpilot.

Clearly state the purpose of the survey

Customers don’t open your app or their mailbox to answer survey questions. The message will most likely get to them when they’re in work mode, so you don’t want to waste time beating around the bush.

If it’s an email survey, ensure the subject line clearly states what the email is about. When the survey is in-app, ensure the microcopy you used gets right to the point.

Clearly stating why you’re collecting customer feedback will set the right expectations on the effort required of the user. Here’s a good example:

survey-example
Example of a good in-app survey form.

Keep surveys short and focused

You want to assure users that they’re in control of the survey experience. Long, boring survey questions don’t fulfill that purpose. So, keep it short and simple.

Ensure the questions are easy to understand. Also aim to give your users options—a common approach is to include both closed-ended and open-ended questions to get more information.

Keep-surveys-short-and-focused-how-to-increase-survey-respose-rate
Use simple and focused surveys like this.

Use incentives

Everyone loves to get rewarded. In fact, almost everything we do is motivated by some real or imaginary reward. Adding incentives for survey participation will go a long way in driving engagement.

Two things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t offer too many incentives, or users will rush for the reward and not focus on providing actionable feedback.
  • It’s better to reward every respondent, no matter how small the incentive, than to give big rewards to only a few people.
incentives-onboarding-survey-promoters-userpilot
Example of an incentive.

Show a progress bar

A progress bar is a nice brain trick to make your feedback process feel less daunting. By seeing the bar move as they take action, customers can know how much effort is required to complete the process.

This tactic will also increase your survey completion rate as customers will feel the need to fill up the bar.

progress-bar-ro-enhance-engagement
Fullstory uses this approach to increase the response rate.

Pre-notify your customers

As mentioned earlier, customers don’t have survey forms at the top of their to-do lists, so you have to find creative ways to ensure they don’t neglect your prompts.

One such is notifying them of your survey beforehand and getting their permission. As a result, customers will be more willing to complete a survey they already consented to.

pre-survey-how-to-increase-survey-response-rates
In-app pop-up asking customers if it’s okay to survey them later.

Show gratitude to your respondents

Think back to the last time someone genuinely thanked you for doing something. It sure must have felt like you should do more for them.

That’s how gratitude works. The more you thank someone for something they did, the more likely they are to do you a favor next time.

Your customers aren’t an exception—take the time to appreciate their effort and time in completing your surveys.

You can send automated thank you messages after users complete the primary survey or give them a small gift.

Create a celebratory modal code-free with Userpilot.

thank-you-note-make-customers-happy
An example of a celebratory modal.

Use different surveys in the right context

Different surveys serve different purposes, and it’s always best to trigger the right survey at the right time—instead of a long-form one every couple of months. The feedback received from contextual and frequent surveys is more specific and useful.

For instance, triggering a satisfaction survey after the user talked to your customer service representative is way better than waiting several months after the incident to ask them a bulk of questions. The experience wouldn’t be fresh in their minds, so you won’t get valuable feedback.

So, keep in mind to trigger surveys at the right time to get actionable feedback from your users.

qualitative-and-quantitative-survey-questions
Example of a survey after the user talked to a customer service representative.

Use different survey options: NPS, customer satisfaction survey, new feature survey, etc., depending on the situation and where the customer is in their journey.

Include open-ended questions

Users are more likely to complete the survey if you leave a space for them to express their thoughts. It’s also an advantage to you because you’ll get a clearer idea of what friction points and areas of improvement.

slack-open-ended-in-app-survey-
Slack’s qualitative feedback survey.

Use different channels to collect customer feedback

Don’t lock users to a single survey channel. Utilize the power of a multichannel approach to increase your response rates.

You can collect customer feedback in-app, via email, on social media, etc. Use an omnichannel approach or a single channel per time, depending on the survey type and what customers prefer.

You can even embed a long-form survey in-app to trigger it more contextually:

embed-survey
Userpilot can help you embed surveys with ease.

Collect feedback at each customer lifecycle stage

Collecting feedback at every stage of the user journey will give you an idea of which areas users struggle with most and how their satisfaction develops over time. The benefits are two-sided: you’ll identify and address friction points quickly, and customer loyalty will rise over time.

This process can be automated with the right tool. For example, you can create NPS surveys and target them for a specific user group.

NPS-triggering-how-to-increase-survey-response-rate
Userpilot helps to properly target surveys.

Avoid bias in your survey questions

Biased questions are generic; they ask your customer base the same thing, wrongly assuming everyone matches predefined criteria.

These questions are often closed-ended, too. A good example is the one below:

biased-question-turns-off-users
Example of a biased question.

Asking customers if they will share you on social media already assumes all your customers are on social media.

Another example of bias is those questions that lead customers on rather than give them a chance to express themselves. E.g., “How amazing was the XYZ feature?” You’re already biased by assuming the customer thinks your feature is amazing.

Chances are the customer won’t respond if they had a bad experience with the feature. Or some people will respond for the sake of it, leaving you with skewed survey results.

Avoid double-barrelled questions

These questions allow one answer while asking customers two loosely related questions.

Double-barreled-questions-how-to-increase-survey-response-rates
Example of a double-barrelled question.

Double-barrelled questions are confusing and will result in low response rates.

Ask one question at a time and include an open-ended question in case users want to talk about their experience in detail.

Avoid loaded questions

A loaded question makes the question hard to understand and asks 2 or more questions in a single sentence.

loaded-survey-question-
Example of a loaded question.

People tend to neglect questions like this—especially when the assumption is wrong. Avoid loaded questions at all costs. Use your customer data and craft your copy so the experience feels more personalized.

Make it easy for customers to provide feedback whenever they want

There are two types of feedback: active and passive feedback. The latter means you don’t directly ask the customer for feedback—instead, you create an on-demand survey that customers can respond to at their convenience.

A common example of passive surveys is the always-on feedback widget placed in-app.

It doesn’t interrupt the customer’s activity on your platform, but it’s there in case your users want to provide feedback about a feature, or their recent experience.

always-on-survey-userpilot
How to embed a feedback widget in a resource center.

Use gamification in your surveys

It’s important to keep your surveys short and sweet, but you can’t always do that. You’ll sometimes need customers to fill out long forms for the purpose you have in mind.

Use gamification in such cases to ensure the customer doesn’t lose interest and drop off. You could add a checklist that gets crossed off when users complete different parts of the survey. Or use progress bars like Fullstory:

progress-bar-for-survey-gamification
Example of gamification in a survey.

Close the feedback loop

The feedback loop isn’t closed until you get back to customers with updates you made based on their feedback. Some companies don’t bother doing this, so they miss out on the opportunity to cultivate strong customer relationships.

Closing the feedback loop makes customers feel acknowledged, and they’ll be more receptive to participating in future surveys.

The customer feedback loop.
The customer feedback loop.

Conclusion

This article has shown you how to increase survey response rates quickly. Go ahead and implement the tactics that resonated with you the most.

Remember to always have the audience in mind when creating your surveys. This should determine the sort of survey you roll out, how you design it, and the channels you use.

Userpilot can help enhance your surveys through user segmentation, personalization, and in-app survey creation. Book a demo to learn more.

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