13 Simple Practical Steps to Improve Survey Response Rates

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Face it.

Your response rates for that survey you posted up are horrible.

There’s so little data, there’s no way you’re going to be able to receive actionable results.

Breathe. You’re here now, you’ve found this list.

Following this list is a 100% guarantee of increasing response rates, and receiving actionable feedback.

If you don’t have time, skip to #13 for a nice summary.

  1. Keep your survey on one page.

People hate clicking the next button.

Why? It could be several reasons:

  • the loading time for the next page,
  • having to click a small button that says next (especially on smartphone screens)
  • Gives a feeling that the survey will take a long time

But mostly, just think about any time you have had to fill out a page of information or answers.

You thought it was going to be just that front page,

Only to flip the page and find there was an entire back page to fill out.



  1. Delete unnecessary questions

In light of #1, keep your survey focused and deliberate for every question.

Decide which questions are the most important for you and cut the rest.

Even if you want to ask a lot of questions, it won’t matter if you don’t get any responses…

Whereas making your survey shorter might help you get the answers you need for your most important questions.


  1. Optimize your survey for mobile-use


This is one of the most important things you can do.

People are lazy.

But if your survey can be opened on their phone, and the respondent ticks off a few answers and clicks submit, you’re good to go.


  1. Use modern methods of survey distribution

Email links are still good and fine, but surely in this modern age there are more appealing methods?

In general, emails (especially ones that ask you to do something) have become a kind of nuisance to be over with.

This means while emails are still the most common way to send survey links, consider other methods to distribute your survey.

Among these are Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter,


  1. Make people care

Give people a reason to do the survey.

Let them know how much this data matters to you,

And convince them this data matters for them too

Essentially, feedback should be a win-win process.

People give feedback about problems, problems are fixed.

Give people an option to receive follow-up on what the results of the survey are, and what actions you’re going to take through it.

Doing this well increases brand awareness too.


  1. Try not to ask for personal information

People don’t like giving it.

To read more about it and learn more about things you shouldn’t do in a survey refer to this blog post.


  1. Tell participants how long the survey will take

If you let participants know how long the survey will take, (and it’s true) it increases their willingness to take the survey.

Typically, people don’t want to spend more than 5 minutes on a survey.

And if the survey is supposed to take longer (refer to #1 &2 about why it shouldn’t be)

They know to take it later when they have time.


  1. Incentivize creatively

Believe it or not, incentivization doesn’t always have to cost money

If you have money for your research, then by all means use it.

But sometimes you have the resource of ‘you’ to offer.

There are a lot of people willing to take your survey in exchange for you taking theirs.

If you really need to crank up those response rates, this is a sure method.

There are plenty of other creative ways to incentivize your survey.

Experiment and figure out what works for you, or check out some suggestions.


  1. Change your pitch

“Take this survey!”

Is the best way for people (unless they know you personally) not to take your survey.

Relate to people, and tell them what’s going on.


Before: “Take this survey!”

After: “It sucks when the customer service of a company is bad. We want to make sure you’re getting the best customer service you can. Fill out this feedback survey so we can make sure you’re getting the best customer service, every time.”


  1. Now apply #9 to questions

Ask questions in a way that people don’t have to force themselves to finish even reading the question.

Make it simple, sweet, and most of all human.

Depending on the situation, see if you can make your questions as conversational as possible.


  1. Stay away from asking “explain” questions.

While allowing respondents an option to make additional at the end is appropriate, asking “Explain” open-endedly after a question is a no-go.


Because as a survey maker,

you should have a rough idea about why a participant might choose a particular answer.

Make a list of possible reasons, allow participants to choose one or more, and then an extra “Other” fill in the blank just in case.


  1. Improve User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI)

No one ever thinks about this.

User experience and user interface have a huge impact on whether people follow through with surveys or not.

Partially because it might affect whether or not they can even do so comfortably.

User experience is what the experience of the user is like, and in this case their experience when they take the survey.

Does the survey load too slow, is the font big enough to read?

These are questions to be asking.

Maybe the large-resolution image in the survey is making it take long to load.

If so, these are things you need to be aware of.


User interface of a survey is the interface or the layout of the survey.

Are the answer buttons too small to click, or the submit button not obviously placed?

Even simple issues like these need to be resolved to increase response rate.


  1. Focus on the Participant, not You.

This whole list can be summarized with this statement.

Focus on the participant, not you.

While of course, the survey is meant to help you achieve whatever needs to be achieved through the survey, you’re not the one taking the survey.

Cater the survey to be friendly and pleasant, and most of accessible for potential participants.


Now that you know what to do, do it.


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