In business, surveys are going to be vital to your success. Surveying customers on a regular basis can help you understand product market fit (PMF), customer satisfaction, and dozens of other audience variables. Quantifying their responses and reading their qualitative feedback can lead you to a better understanding of how they think – and give you ideas for how to serve them better.
However, for your data to be meaningful, you need an acceptable sample size – and if not enough people are responding to your survey, you’ll never get the data you need. Fortunately, there are several strategies that can help you boost your survey response rates in a reliable and consistent way.
Why People Don’t Respond to Surveys
First, let’s explore why people don’t respond to surveys.
There are several possible reasons, but these tend to be the most common:
Lack of awareness/visibility.
Sometimes, your customers simply don’t know that the survey exists – or if they’re aware of it, they forget about it before they have a chance to actually complete the survey.
Would you drive across the country to complete a survey for no reward? Most people wouldn’t. They also wouldn’t read 10 pages of information or wait on hold for 30 minutes. If your survey isn’t perfectly convenient, people aren’t going to do it.
Lack of time.
Our culture is one of impatience and short attention spans. We don’t want to wait more than a couple of seconds for a website to load – and we don’t want to spend more than 5 minutes on a survey at a time. If your survey is too long, people won’t take it.
No faith in the company.
What are you going to do with this data? Will you use it to improve your products? Serve your customers better? Do something good for the world? If your customers don’t have faith in what you’re doing, or if they don’t understand your intentions, they won’t respond.
General lack of interest.
Sometimes, potential respondents are simply uninterested in completing a survey, for any number of reasons.
How to Improve Survey Response Rates
Understanding these barriers, what are some of the best strategies for improving survey response rates in your business?
Make your survey visible.
Your first job is getting the word out about your survey. Market the existence of the survey however you can, and use multiple channels to reach your target audience. It’s also important to follow up with your potential respondents multiple times if they don’t respond initially.
Reduce the length of your survey.
It’s always a good move to decrease the length of your survey. While it’s tempting to ask your customers as many questions as possible, the more you pack into the survey, the less interest your customers will have in completing it. It’s better to submit a handful of surveys, each a few minutes long, than one long survey that will turn people off. Try to focus only on the most important questions and the most important metrics.
Allow completion in multiple ways.
Next, consider allowing your customers to complete the survey in multiple different ways. For example, you might give your customers an email-based link, so they can complete the survey in a basic web browser, while also allowing your customers to respond to your questions via text message. The more options your customers have, the more likely they’ll be to find a completion method that works for them.
Arguably the most important tip is to incentivize participation in some way. If you want your customers to spend time and effort completing your survey, you should give them something in return. Depending on the length and depth of the survey (and how many people you’re reaching), you might award participants with a gift card, an entering into a drawing, a discount on future purchases, or something even nicer. At a certain price point, your completion rate should reach 100 percent; the question is, how much are you willing to pay to achieve your target? Additionally, certain incentives may end up compromising the reliability of your data.
Explain what you’re doing with the data.
Finally, spend some time explaining to people why you’re conducting this survey and what you’re going to do with the data you collect. Not only will it assuage customers’ potential concerns about privacy, but it will also empower them – making them feel like they could make a real impact on the brand.
Any one of these strategies should have the potential to improve your survey response rate. If you use all of them, or at least several of them in conjunction with each other, you should see a massive boost. With more responses and more consistent measurements, you’ll be able to get the data you need to improve your business’s bottom line.