Response Rate Statistics for Online Surveys -What Numbers Should You be Aiming For?
In the survey researcher’s world there is little more important than keeping response rates high and drop outs low. In fact, over the life span of FluidSurvey University our articles have been obsessed with combatting low response rates to ensure survey success. Whether it be the preliminary steps of research design or the later stages of population sampling, there are tricks to increasing response rates.
In our recent article, “What’s the difference between Response Rate and Completion Rate?” we looked at the definition of each statistic and how low results in either can compromise the validity of your collected data. Today we’ll be revealing data about the average online survey’s response and completion rates, letting you know industry standards and what you should be aiming for.
What is the Average Online Survey Response Rate?
In the realm of survey research, the response rate represents the number of people who completed your survey divided by the sample size (or number of people you tried to contact). Of course, here at FluidSurveys, we are interested in online research and will therefore be calculating the average response rate for only online surveys. Our response rate will also exclude all forms of pop-up and embed surveys because these methods of online research do not have a set sample size. (TIP: You can learn your target sample size by clicking here to visit our Sample Size Calculator)
Using these parameters, we took the average response rate for all email surveys conducted on FluidSurveys. The result was a response rate of 42%. This is an amazing number, but not quite accurate. We can assume many of these surveys are conducted internally (surveying employees usually approaches the 90% response mark!) or are conducted on a very low sample size as is the case with many of our free user clients. So, in order to better represent general public survey response rates we had to change our sample group. After excluding free users, surveys that received less than 100 responses, and the outlying 5% we are left with a much more representative response rate:
Average Response Rate for Email Surveys = 24.8%
When surveying the general public, a response rate of 24.8% looks great when compared to the telephone surveying standard of around 8-12%. However, it is no secret that this number can stand to be increased.
The Two Pronged Defence Against Low Response Rates
If you are receiving response rates lower than 25%, don’t panic! You may have a difficult to reach sample group or your survey topic may be more sensitive than others. No matter how good your research plan is, your response rate will differ based on its topic and target audience. Inversely, even the best surveys can be tweaked to increase their response rate.
Improving a survey’s response rate should have two main focuses; increasing email clicks and reducing survey dropouts! Stemming from these two focuses are two equally important statistics. First is the number of views your survey receives divided by the total number of people contacted. This reflects your emails ability to get people to enter your survey. The second statistic is the number of people who completed your survey divided by the number of people who actually entered it. This stat measures your survey’s overall completion rate.
Looking at the same sample base we used for our average response rate, we found both the:
Average Percentage of Views per Email Contact = 31.6%
Average Completion Rate = 78.6%
So what can we learn from these two numbers. It should come as no surprise that getting someone to click your email and enter your survey will be the biggest difficulty to gathering responses. Beyond factors reliant on the survey topic and its creator, things like spam filters, dummy email accounts, and unreliable email browsers can make it difficult to receive a survey view rate beyond 50%. However, if you’re having a difficult time getting better than 30%, we have a few articles below that can help you make some changes for the better.
Much more astounding is the average completion rate. 78.6% depicts a dropout rate of around 21%! These are people who willingly entered your survey and decided to leave before reaching the finish. If you find your completion rate lower than 80%, it is time to reevaluate your survey and make some changes. Below we have several FluidSurveys University articles that will help you pump up this number.
Give Your Response Rate a Power Boost!
So now that you have these response rate statistics, you know where your survey stands with others. Now it’s time to improve across the board! A good place to start is reading our articles on lowering drop outs and increasing response rates. If you haven’t already, the most essential article to begin with is our last FluidSurveys University post “What is the Difference between a Response Rate and a Completion Rate?” This goes in depth on the nature of these statistics and what they mean for your survey data. Below are some suggested posts for tips on increasing both email clicks and completion rates.
Articles on Increasing Email Clicks:
- 6 Simple Tips to Write Perfect Subject Lines for Your Survey Email Invitations
- How to Avoid Nonresponse Bias
- Increase Response Rates by Incentivizing Anonymous Surveys
- Reaching Your Respondents: Comparing Pop-up, Embed and Email Invite Surveying
Articles on Increasing Completion Rates:
- Maximize Response Rates and Minimize Bias with the Proper Survey Structure
- How to Write a Proper Survey Introduction
- Finding the Correct Survey Length
- Creating the Correct List of Questions for a Survey
- Increase Response Rates with Proper Survey Branding
- Join the Debate! How Many Questions per Survey Page
Latest posts by FluidSurveys Team (see all)
- It’s All About Timing –When to Send your Survey Email Invites? - April 1, 2015
- Making Questions Required -How Online Surveyors Ruin their Results with One Click! - February 26, 2015
- Quota Sampling Effectively -How to get a Representative Sample for Your Online Surveys - February 19, 2015
- The Power of Repetition -How to Measure Your Organizations Progress with Survey Research - February 6, 2015