10 Tips to Increase Survey Response Rates

Increase Response RatesIncreasing survey response rates is a major goal of most survey builders and market researchers. There's an art and a science to increasing campaign response rates whether it's an email marketing campaign or an online market research study. I wanted to share some of my tips for how to increase survey response rates:

Make the email survey invitation from names easy to recognize. You can do this by including an individual's name within the organization that's well known (such as the CEO or if it's a client survey, the name of their sales rep). You can also use the organization's name, or both. For example, I'm subscribed to a few MarketingProf's newsletters. When they send out emails they include the same person's name and their organizations name so it looks like this: Anne, MarketingProfs. I recognize it everytime, and since I enjoy their newsletter, I made sure to open the email.

Keep subject line's compelling, but short. The subject line and the From Name are the two most critical pieces to get your email opened. Try to keep your subject lines to 35 characters or less. You don't need to put the entire email in the subject line, but you do need to include enough information to make the recipients open the survey email.

Create an attractive survey invitation. Studies have shown that well done HTML email messages get better response rates than plain text emails. With HTML you have the opportunity to include images, change font sizes, bold text, etc. Take advantage of this chance. It's one more way to get people to click through to your survey!

Send personalized survey invitations. Personalizing your emails, even something as simple as including the recipient's name in the greeting, will return a higher response than a generic message. It creates a personal touch, and makes the recipient feel like someone took the time to send them a personal message (even though your email survey tool did it for you).

Introduce the survey. Let the participants know why they should participate in your survey. If they don't understand why their opinion is important to your survey findings, why would they want to take the time to fill it out?

How long will the survey take? Not setting expectations in the beginning for survey length leads to low response rates and high abandonment rates. Not what you want to see. If you don't let people know how long it will take to fill out your online survey, they're going to assume you're hiding something about how long it is. Tell them it will take X minutes or the survey is only Y questions long. Definitely be honest, if you lie here, you're going to hurt your future chances of getting those respondents to complete your next online survey questionnaire.

Remind your survey sample that their responses will be kept confidential. This is particularly important for surveys about uncomfortable topics. For example, you created a poll for a public opinion survey to see how your population feels about an emotional topic such as abortion. If you don't keep the information confidential, you probably will not get honest feedback. Same thing goes with employee questionnaires, they should always be kept confidential and anonymous. Not keeping responses confidential will definitely hurt your response rate, as well as the validity of the data.

Offer an incentive. Offering incentives is a proven method for increasing survey response rates. But this method doesn't work if you don't let people know about it up front. Put it in your email, put it on the welcome page of the survey, then make sure to follow up. Again, if you drop the ball here, the chances of that survey respondent completing your online survey form in the future is drastically reduced.

Always say Thank You! Remember when your mom always made you write thank you notes when you got presents or cards from people for holidays and birthdays? It was because people like to feel their effort is noticed and appreciated. Same idea here, it's nice to just get a short note thanking them for their time. After all, survey respondents are doing you a favor.

Don't over email your contact list. This is very important. You shouldn't be inviting the same people to complete your online surveys every month. It's important to segment your list using whichever survey sampling method that works best for your surveys to avoid email list fatigue. Make sure that you're coordinating with other campaigns as well. Just because you know they're different initiatives you're emailing about, your contact's wont necessarily see it that way. If you begin sending emails too frequently, contacts are going to just delete your email and never open it, opt out or report you as a spammer.

Have a tip that I missed? I'd love to hear it!
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