Tired of low online survey response rates? Read on…

60 Decibels
3 min readJan 25, 2020

By Kathryn Robertson Arrebola

We’ve all been there. You’ve spent ages designing the perfect online survey, sourcing a representative sample, dreaming about how you’ll use all these new insights…Then, sadly, you discover that response rates are low! All that work for nothing.

Don’t worry — here at 60 Decibels, we are on a mission to make it easier to listen. While most of our surveys are conducted through phone surveys with our global team of researchers, we also help clients with online surveys, SMS surveys, and IVR. We’ve found that some of our strongest tips for increasing response rates for online surveys also apply to our core work: we want sharing feedback and listening to feel rewarding, fun, and enjoyable.

We’ve put our heads together and compiled our top 7 tips for increasing response rates for online surveys. Put these into action, and you’ll be reveling in the magic of good feedback in no time!

  1. First off, don’t call it a ‘survey’.

‘Survey’ can have negative connotations. Be honest: how many ‘take this survey’ emails have you ignored? Instead, try asking for ‘opinion’, ‘advice’, or ‘feedback’.

2. Communicate purpose and benefits.

Make sure you ask yourself, and then communicate, ‘why’ you are asking for feedback. What will you do with the results? What’s in it for your respondents? Why should they be excited to be part of it? Make sure you know the answers to these questions, and clearly communicate them. An experiment by Quartz showed that adding context increased response rates from less than 0.5% to over 4%!

Just a quick note on incentives: be wary of offering cash or gifts to increase participation. Sometimes the quality of your results will go down, especially if you’re looking to get honest customer feedback. Instead, show that you will listen and act on their input. After all, who doesn’t ultimately want better service?

3. Write an engaging subject line.

Make your subject line friendly and personalised — studies show that personalisation can lift response rates by 20–40%! Including a ‘call to action’ — e.g. ‘Katie, tell us what you think of xxx.’ — can also be an effective way to get your respondents to act.

Be careful not to make your subject line too long though. Studies have shown that subject lines around 6 to 10 words (around 30–50 characters) give the highest email open rate (21%), falling to 14% if you sneak over 10 words.

4. Send at the optimal time.

Globally, studies show that Tuesday is the most effective day for email communications (followed by Wednesday). Late morning (10–11am) is the optimal time, followed by 2pm, 8pm-midnight, and 6am.

This will of course vary by location and customer type — make sure you experiment and find what works best for you.

5. Make your survey easy to read.

Make your survey clear, engaging, and visually appealing (and mobile compatible). Use conversational, personable language and think of this as an opportunity to speak with respondents. Have you ever used Typeform? They design their forms to feel like a conversation and we love how they keep it human.

6. Make your survey easy to answer.

Sharing feedback shouldn’t feel like hard work! Get respondents involved quickly by starting with some easy yes / no questions and limit the number of brain-taxing open-ended questions. Add encouraging text cues on the way, e.g. ‘nearly done!’

7. Close the feedback loop.

Finally, be a responsible citizen and do your part for the world of consumer surveying. Follow up to let your respondents know how you used their feedback, so that they’ll be more likely to respond next time!

Enjoyed these tips? Like, share, or comment below — let us know what you’ve found most helpful!



60 Decibels

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