Survey Response Rates

It is difficult to predict the level of survey participation you will receive; survey response rates vary widely and depend on a variety of factors. With a better understanding of what influences response rates you may be able to estimate or even increase your response rate.

Response rates can be influenced by factors such as customer loyalty, brand recognition, incentives, invitation wording, perceived benefit from participating in survey, demographics and how actively respondents are engaged in the improvement process, among other things.

An important participation incentive to survey respondents is that their opinions will be heard and that action will be taken based on their feedback. If respondents believe that participating in a survey will result in real improvements response rates may increase, as will the quality of the feedback.

Internal surveys (i.e. employee surveys) generally have a much higher response rate than external surveys (e.g. customer satisfaction surveys). Internal surveys will generally receive a 30-40% response rate or more on average, compared to an average 10-15% response rate for external surveys.

Response rates can soar past 85% (about 43 responses for every 50 invitations sent) when the respondent population is motivated and the survey is well-executed. Response rates can also fall below 2% (about 1 response for every 50 invitations sent) when the respondent population is less-targeted, when contact information is unreliable, or where there is less incentive or little motivation to respond.

To help improve your survey response rate keep these key factors in mind:

Survey Length – Research has shown that surveys should take 5 minutes or less to complete. Although 6 – 10 minutes is acceptable, longer than 11 minutes will likely result in significant abandonment rates. On average, respondents can complete 5 closed-ended questions per minute and 2 open-ended questions per minute.

Provide Value – Offer a copy of the final results and consider offering an incentive

Send Reminders – Limit yourself to no more than two reminder emails, changing the time of day and the day of the week that you send them out

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