Sometimes, when crafting an all-important survey, it’s easy to lose track of context. We think of what we’re trying to accomplish and how important that survey data will be. If we think about survey response rates at all, it’s a secondary concern at best.
But it shouldn’t be. Increasing your survey response rates should be your first priority. After all, your survey might cover all your topics of interest, but if nobody even opens it?
Good luck getting any answers without a few willing participants. Here’s how to ensure you get better response rates on your next survey.
Pro tip: if you want to see the big, major, amazing tip, scroll down near the bottom. We hid it for dramatic effect.
A Few Simple Tips
Last week, we talked a bit about survey fatigue. It’s a real issue, and it can significantly impact both the quality and quantity of your survey data. We also provided a few tips to help you prevent survey fatigue. Following those tips are a great first step towards increasing your survey response rate.
For example, there are a few things you can do to dramatically increase the likelihood of getting useful responses. Here are a few:
- Explain what the survey is for. Let your members know why you are sending them a survey and what you’ll do with the results. People want to know their time is valuable.
- Be polite. Common courtesies like saying please and thank you can get you pretty far. Again, this is about showing respect for people’s time and contribution.
- Keep the survey short. Your survey should fit on one page. If someone opens your survey and sees an endless list of questions, they might decide they have something better to do with their time.
While any of those three tips will definitely increase your survey response rates, they won’t help as much as this next tip. See, the issue with the tips above is that they assume your member has seen your survey request.
Your Survey Isn’t Being Seen
Survey fatigue is exacerbated by constant institutional outreach. People deal with mountains of spam in their inboxes. Think about it:
- Social media notifications
- Coupons and promotions
- Electronic statements and receipts
- Actual personal email
- Surveys and other personal or business requests
Most people’s inboxes are cluttered by a constant barrage of impersonal emails. Most of them come from businesses and financial institutions. How are you going to stand out? How will you distinguish yourself? How will you even get seen?
First Steps to Getting Your Survey Seen
If you want people to even notice that you’ve sent a survey, you have to jump through a few hoops. For starters, you’ll need to do three things:
- Come up with a good subject line. Be friendly, concise, and inviting. You just need to get them to click. The rest of the information can come through in the email. Remember: short and catchy.
- Find out which day to send your survey. With many transactional surveys, the best time to reach out is right after the transaction. If it’s a generic survey, do some A/B testing to find out which days yield higher survey response rates.
- Figure out what time of day to send your surveys. Again, if you’re automatically triggering a survey after a transaction, that’s fine. For generic surveys, A/B testing the hours of the day might help. For example, you’ll probably get fewer responses at 11p.m. than you will at 11a.m.
Following these steps will help to get your survey noticed by your respondents. Still, it’s difficult to cut through the clutter of modern spam. Sometimes, even if you do everything else right, your survey still might get overlooked.
When that happens, it’s time to do the one thing that truly works.
When in Rome…
If everyone else is spamming your respondents’ inboxes, then so should you.
Yes, it sounds dirty. But you have to give yourself a fighting chance. And frankly, many people just won’t see your survey request through all the other messages flooding their inbox. In some cases, people might see it, decide they’ll take it later, and then forget about it.
In either case, send a follow-up request or two to remind them.
This absolutely works. Often, I’ll send out a survey for LiveSurvey and get, let’s say, 20 responses. I’ll send out a survey reminder a few days later and get 20 more. A third reminder might net me 20 more.
You can essentially double or triple your survey response rates by sending reminder emails.
That’s it. That’s the one major tip.
Yes, getting increased survey response rates is sometimes as easy as sending reminder emails. It seems weird, doesn’t it? That the best way to cut through inbox clutter is to contribute to it.
There’s a fine line between reminders and arrant spam though, so please take it easy on your members!
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