5 Simple Steps To Maximize Your Response Rate

5 Simple Steps To Maximize Your Response Rate

You have written your survey questions, and you have edited and trimmed it down to the most important ones. Now you just need to publish it online so you can collect your data.

Online surveys are everywhere nowadays, from news sites like CNN using a simple poll to ask for your opinion to fashion blog posts asking you if you like their outfit of the day. While getting respondents for a simple Yes or No survey question is more easy, asking someone to spend 5 to 10 minutes of their time to answer survey questions can be a hard sell with today’s hectic lifestyle.

So how do you convince a person to answer your online survey? Short of posting an irresistible video of you saying 'please' in three different costumes, we have 5 steps you can follow to make online recruitment for respondents much easier.

Step #1: Make On-boarding Easy; Your First Question Must Be Super Simple

Help them answer your survey by not scaring them with an intimidating, long, and difficult to understand opening question. Questions that are no-brainers and easy to answer encourage your respondents in thinking they can finish your survey in no time. As soon as they get through the first couple of questions, they are more likely to finish the entire survey.

Step #2: Promise That You’ll Keep Their Information Private And Their Responses Anonymous

No matter how addicted we are to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, we are still very sensitive about sharing certain things online, especially when it comes to opinions. Promise your participants that you will not be sharing their information with any third party, or worse, sell their data to other companies.

You can put a small disclaimer (make sure it is easy to read) at the very start of your survey, saying that the data gathered here will be used for specific purposes only and will not be shared without their consent.

Step #3: No Responses Yet? Learn To Nag Nicely

You have sent your personalized email invitations to your potential respondents, but none of them has clicked on to your online survey yet. What do you do?

What we recommend is that you nag nicely. Send them a follow-up email saying something along the lines of:

‘Hi there,

We know your are extremely busy and we understand if you have overlooked this survey. But to improve your experience with us the next time, we'd love to know your thoughts and suggestions. So, if you have 5 minutes to spare, please click here!’

Only then put in your real link, and not a disappointing fake look-a-like.
Remember that even five minutes is precious these days, so any survey that needs more than 5 minutes to answer is already in danger of losing some quality participants.

Step #4: Give a Little Something Extra

Incentives don’t have to be grand. Sometimes, simple things like a sneak preview of an upcoming book release or a free brownie on their next visit to your store can work wonders for your survey response rate. Not everyone from that pool will actually claim his or her reward, anyway.

That little something extra emphasizes that you genuinely value their thoughts and suggestions, which you should. A free refill on their first cup of coffee, free alterations to clothes they bought from you, or even a service upgrade would be very much appreciated by anyone who just took five minutes of their time answering your online survey.

If you cannot give a reward or token, let them know how you plan to use the results of the survey.
It can be something like:

  • The survey results will help us improve the overall design of our mobile website
  • The survey results will help us know which brands you prefer to see in our shop
  • We’d be able to make better product recommendations for you as a result of this survey

Showing a person how they can contribute to a process of improvement is already a reward in itself.

Step #5: Share Your Survey Results

Last but not least, you can tell your respondents upfront that you will share your results online, be it fully or partially. The great thing about online survey sites is that the calculation of your results can happen in seconds. Live results can be displayed so that you can see if there are trends immediately after you have answered the survey. This also shows the participant that there are other people who already answered the survey, so that they are not the only one diligently reading and answering the questions.

Now that you know how you can increase your response rate for your online survey, try making one now and see for yourself what kind of results you will get!

Photo credit: Deb Perelman (thanks, Deb)

Deanne Dalisay
Dec 27, 2013
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