Get the Most Out of Your Survey: Increasing Response Rates

A survey without respondents is like a phone without service; not very useful. In order to conduct successful research, you need to convince enough of the right people to contribute information. Unfortunately, survey creators often subscribe to the “if you build it, they will come” theory, which in most cases is untrue. This belief dooms many well built surveys to poor response rates, bad data and wasted time.

Online surveys already have an inherent advantage over other data collection techniques when it comes to response rates as they’re relatively quick and easy to complete. Respondents can do it on their own time, only have to make a few clicks, and the results are tabulated instantaneously. However, this shouldn’t trick you into believing that publishing a successful survey will be easy. There’s still some work to do.

Here are some tips to assure that you get great response rates to your surveys!

Ask yourself, “How easy will this survey be to take?”

When creating your survey, don’t only think about your research goals. These are obviously crucial, however, they shouldn’t be the only consideration. It’s important to design your survey to be as easy to take as possible. Keep it brief, get right to the point with your questions, use simple language, allow users to save and continue at a later time, etc. The easier your survey is to take, the more people will complete it.

Make Your Survey Appealing

Chances are, a lot of people won’t complete a survey just because they received a link. There has to be more to it. Luckily, there are many ways to entice individuals to contribute their time and fill out your questionnaire:

The Invitation

The first thing to do is to send out email invitations for your survey, an extremely easy process using FluidSurveys’ Invite Tool. You can invite your entire contact list in a matter of seconds; however, it shouldn’t stop there. What you put in the invitation email, especially subject line, is key.

Many people  have adopted the policy of quickly scanning the subject lines in their inbox and immediately deleting those emails that appear to be spam, suspicious or unappealing. It’s therefore very important to grab an individual’s attention quickly. One way of doing this is to include your name and their name in the subject (FluidSurveys can do this automatically), and something more than “has invited you to complete a survey”. Put the title of your survey in the invitation, for example, and use the words “I’d like your opinion on…” rather than generic terms. Make it as personal as possible.

The content of your email is also important. Remember that you are asking people to take time out of their day to help you, so it’s important to tell them why they should do so. Briefly explain what your survey is trying to accomplish and why their contribution would be valued.

Finally, be honest! Don’t say that the survey will only take 5 minutes when there are 200 questions to go through. If that happens, the respondent will likely just leave after five minutes, leaving your results incomplete and damaging your credibility. Be up front about how long the survey will take to assure complete and truthful responses.


It might not always be feasible to offer incentives for respondents, particularly monetary ones, however, it is an avenue worth exploring. Offering an incentive can have a very positive impact on your response rates. If people see that they’ll be compensated for their participation, they’re more likely to engage.

In fact, incentives don’t even always have to be monetary. You can be creative. Perhaps there’s some sort of discount or coupon that you can offer, or maybe a free trial of a product. While not always possible, incentives can be a great tool.

Other Tips

Send out reminder emails… but not too many.
Some people may have forgotten about your survey while others might have missed your original invite in their cluttered mailboxes, so sending reminders is a good idea. However, don’t send too many to the point where you become annoying. It’s usually a good idea to limit reminders at 2.

Publish your results!
Often times when a person completes a survey, it’s because they’re interested in the topic, and they’ll be more likely to participate if they can see the results afterwards.

Social Media!
With the explosion of Facebook and Twitter over the past couple of years, it’s easier than ever to reach a large group of potential respondents. With the click of a button you can share your survey link with your entire friend’s list and the whole Twitter world. Make sure to include a short, persuasive message with your link with a few descriptive keywords about your survey subject, and unleash it to the world! FluidSurveys has some options that make it easy to distribute your survey link on twitter and facebook.

Surveys can be an incredibly useful tool for organizations and individuals, but only if you get quality responses. Following these tips will make sure that you get a great response rate!

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