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How to Increase Survey Response Rates for Your Voice of the Customer Program


Feb 21, 2017, By Philippe Aussant
|0 comments

how to increase survey response rates

Asking your customers to complete a survey is like starting a conversation with them.  By accepting an invitation to participate in your survey, they are agreeing to take the time to dialog with you about what they thought of their experience. 

However, it is difficult to keep them engaged if they feel that the conversation is dragging on.  Respondents’ perceived value of providing their feedback may deteriorate over the course of a very long survey, leading to respondent fatigue and causing them to prematurely exit the survey (“drop out”), and negatively impact your survey response rates.

So how can you increase your survey response rates by not only keeping your respondents engaged with your digital Voice of the Customer (VoC) research, but also ensuring that you still collect customer feedback relevant to your current business objectives?  We will dig deeper into the following items in this post:

  1. Manage the number of screen interactions
  2. Keep your research relevant and to the point
  3. Make your survey easy on the eyes

Before we get started

  • Survey response rate can be defined as the percentage of those who were invited to the survey and completed it (# of completed surveys / # of invitations sent).
  • It can be difficult to determine what an ‘ideal’ survey response rate should be, since it can be impacted by many different factors, including (but not limited to) your visitors’ level of engagement with your website or brand.
  • This post specifically looks at ways you can increase your survey response rate by making your respondents’ survey completion experience more engaging. However, your survey response rates can also be impacted by the method you use to invite visitors to participate in your survey, which is not examined in this post.   

Manage the Number of Screen Interactions

The number of questions that you ask plays a part in the drop-out rate for survey respondents.  However, just as important is the number of screen interactions that the respondent is asked to perform to complete the survey. 

To clarify, a screen interaction is any mouse click or scroll required by the respondent to answer a question.  A survey that requires 20 screen interactions requires less effort to fill out than a one that requires 40. 

Here are two ways of how to increase survey response rates by managing the number of required screen interactions in your survey:

 

Question Types

Different question types require different amounts of effort to answer. 

For example, a single-select question requires only 1 click to move on to the next question, and is ideal for qualification and demographic purposes.  On the other hand, an open-ended question requires the respondent to type their answer, which can require a relatively large amount of effort on the respondent’s part.  Though, qualitative feedback can often lead to finding new insights and trends that we would have otherwise been unable to identify with close-ended questions.

A variety of question types can help keep things engaging for your respondents. However, you also want to make sure that you manage the proportion of “high interaction” questions whenever possible.  For example, if we are always seeing the same themes mentioned for one of your open-ended questions, you could consider converting it into a close-ended question and programming these themes as answer choices, with an ‘other’ answer choice included to still allow for user-defined responses. Below is an example of a single select question type and Set-of Rating question.

ways to increase survey response rates: single select questions


how to increase survey response rates: set of ratings questions


Auto-Advance Feature

If you know ahead of time how many screen interactions are required from the respondent to answer a question (such as Single-Select or Set-of-Rating questions), ensure your customer feedback solution allows respondents to advance to the next question whenever they have reached this limit of screen interactions.  Over the course of a longer survey, these saved screen interactions can add up and can reduce survey fatigue. 

 

Keep Your Research Relevant and to the Point

Another effective way of how to increase survey response rates and keeping your respondents engaged is by only asking questions that are relevant, and that reflect behavior or answers that they have already confirmed.  This can be done in the following ways:

 

Use Skip Logic

By default, all the questions that you program in your survey will be shown to your respondents.  However, you can program Skip Logic so that certain question modules are only shown to respondents who meet the criteria for these questions. 

For example, if you are managing an Automotive website and would like to obtain customer feedback about a car configuration feature on your website, you may only want to show car configuration-related questions to those who already stated earlier in the survey that they indeed used this feature.  As for those who did not use this feature, you can make them automatically skip these questions, and prevent asking for their feedback about something they never used. 

Programming Skip Logic provides the ability to cover a wide range of topics in your survey, while minimizing the number of required screen interactions by keeping questions relevant to the respondent.

 

Conduct Multiple Targeted Surveys vs. One General Survey

Sometimes you just need to go into more detail on specific features.  Depending on how in-depth you go, the respondent may potentially reach a point where they no longer wish to continue in the survey, and drop out as a result. 

This is why you could consider running more than 1 survey on your website, each focusing on specific business objectives.  For example, if you would like to collect feedback about the shopping cart feature of your website, you could invite respondents who have finished purchasing an item on the website to participate in a survey focused on conversion optimization.

Note though that you would want to ensure that they do not receive invitations for more than one survey during a given session, so as to not potentially negatively impact their website experience.

 

Make Your Survey Easy on the Eyes

Having to answer one question at a time compared to having a long list of questions on one page is easier to process, makes it easier to program skip logic, and can be another way of how to increase survey response rates for your research.

Some other design-related features that can make it easier for your respondents to process your survey include:

 

Amount of text used for questions and answers

Including a lot of text in your questions requires more effort on the part of the respondent to process, which can lead to greater respondent fatigue as they advance through the survey.  Understandably, some questions may require a greater level of detail to ensure respondents fully understand what you are asking them.  However, brevity can prove useful whenever possible.  An answer list of 5 options is much easier on the eyes (and the mind) than one with 25 options (see image below for an example).

increase survey respondents

 

Consider Differences in Desktop and Mobile Experiences

When conducting research on Desktop and Mobile devices, it is important to consider the difference in respondents’ experience with these devices. 

Those answering surveys on a Desktop / Laptop are most likely sitting down (unless they are much more agile than I am), and using larger screens.  As such, they may be able to tolerate a greater number of required screen interactions. 

On the other hand, while Mobile respondents may also be sitting down when taking the survey, it is also possible that they may be standing or walking while answering this survey, and as such may be able to tolerate a smaller number of required screen interactions. 

 

Include a Progress Bar

Showing a dynamic progress bar gives respondents a sense that they are advancing in the survey, especially longer ones.  Some respondents may feel more compelled and engaged to finish a longer survey if they can see the finish line. Below is an example of a progress bar.

use a survey progress bar to increase survey response rates

 

Final Thoughts

Designing your digital Voice of the Customer project is a science, and there is no magic formula to creating the perfect survey.  Every website is different, and every company has its own set of business objectives.  As important to keep in mind is that each survey respondent is unique.  While it may be easy to determine the type of feedback you would like to obtain from your survey respondents, the tricky part is finding that balance between what works for you, and what works for your customers to keep them engaged and maintain a good survey response rate. 

While everyone is unique, it is difficult to argue that people prefer to complete something that is easy and requires as minimal effort as possible.  Therefore, when figuring out how to increase survey response rates, it is important to keep the respondents’ experience in mind by keeping it engaging and easy, while ensuring that your research still reflects your current business needs. 

Image source: Unsplash

Philippe Aussant

Philippe Aussant is a research analyst and support professional with over 6 years of experience. As Product Support Manager, Philippe is responsible for managing client support requests and the iPerceptions support forum, as well as creating documentation and user guides for the Active Research platform.

How to Increase Survey Response Rates for Your Voice of the Customer Program


Feb 21, 2017, By Philippe Aussant
|0 comments

how to increase survey response rates

Asking your customers to complete a survey is like starting a conversation with them.  By accepting an invitation to participate in your survey, they are agreeing to take the time to dialog with you about what they thought of their experience. 

However, it is difficult to keep them engaged if they feel that the conversation is dragging on.  Respondents’ perceived value of providing their feedback may deteriorate over the course of a very long survey, leading to respondent fatigue and causing them to prematurely exit the survey (“drop out”), and negatively impact your survey response rates.

So how can you increase your survey response rates by not only keeping your respondents engaged with your digital Voice of the Customer (VoC) research, but also ensuring that you still collect customer feedback relevant to your current business objectives?  We will dig deeper into the following items in this post:

  1. Manage the number of screen interactions
  2. Keep your research relevant and to the point
  3. Make your survey easy on the eyes

Before we get started

  • Survey response rate can be defined as the percentage of those who were invited to the survey and completed it (# of completed surveys / # of invitations sent).
  • It can be difficult to determine what an ‘ideal’ survey response rate should be, since it can be impacted by many different factors, including (but not limited to) your visitors’ level of engagement with your website or brand.
  • This post specifically looks at ways you can increase your survey response rate by making your respondents’ survey completion experience more engaging. However, your survey response rates can also be impacted by the method you use to invite visitors to participate in your survey, which is not examined in this post.   

Manage the Number of Screen Interactions

The number of questions that you ask plays a part in the drop-out rate for survey respondents.  However, just as important is the number of screen interactions that the respondent is asked to perform to complete the survey. 

To clarify, a screen interaction is any mouse click or scroll required by the respondent to answer a question.  A survey that requires 20 screen interactions requires less effort to fill out than a one that requires 40. 

Here are two ways of how to increase survey response rates by managing the number of required screen interactions in your survey:

 

Question Types

Different question types require different amounts of effort to answer. 

For example, a single-select question requires only 1 click to move on to the next question, and is ideal for qualification and demographic purposes.  On the other hand, an open-ended question requires the respondent to type their answer, which can require a relatively large amount of effort on the respondent’s part.  Though, qualitative feedback can often lead to finding new insights and trends that we would have otherwise been unable to identify with close-ended questions.

A variety of question types can help keep things engaging for your respondents. However, you also want to make sure that you manage the proportion of “high interaction” questions whenever possible.  For example, if we are always seeing the same themes mentioned for one of your open-ended questions, you could consider converting it into a close-ended question and programming these themes as answer choices, with an ‘other’ answer choice included to still allow for user-defined responses. Below is an example of a single select question type and Set-of Rating question.

ways to increase survey response rates: single select questions


how to increase survey response rates: set of ratings questions


Auto-Advance Feature

If you know ahead of time how many screen interactions are required from the respondent to answer a question (such as Single-Select or Set-of-Rating questions), ensure your customer feedback solution allows respondents to advance to the next question whenever they have reached this limit of screen interactions.  Over the course of a longer survey, these saved screen interactions can add up and can reduce survey fatigue. 

 

Keep Your Research Relevant and to the Point

Another effective way of how to increase survey response rates and keeping your respondents engaged is by only asking questions that are relevant, and that reflect behavior or answers that they have already confirmed.  This can be done in the following ways:

 

Use Skip Logic

By default, all the questions that you program in your survey will be shown to your respondents.  However, you can program Skip Logic so that certain question modules are only shown to respondents who meet the criteria for these questions. 

For example, if you are managing an Automotive website and would like to obtain customer feedback about a car configuration feature on your website, you may only want to show car configuration-related questions to those who already stated earlier in the survey that they indeed used this feature.  As for those who did not use this feature, you can make them automatically skip these questions, and prevent asking for their feedback about something they never used. 

Programming Skip Logic provides the ability to cover a wide range of topics in your survey, while minimizing the number of required screen interactions by keeping questions relevant to the respondent.

 

Conduct Multiple Targeted Surveys vs. One General Survey

Sometimes you just need to go into more detail on specific features.  Depending on how in-depth you go, the respondent may potentially reach a point where they no longer wish to continue in the survey, and drop out as a result. 

This is why you could consider running more than 1 survey on your website, each focusing on specific business objectives.  For example, if you would like to collect feedback about the shopping cart feature of your website, you could invite respondents who have finished purchasing an item on the website to participate in a survey focused on conversion optimization.

Note though that you would want to ensure that they do not receive invitations for more than one survey during a given session, so as to not potentially negatively impact their website experience.

 

Make Your Survey Easy on the Eyes

Having to answer one question at a time compared to having a long list of questions on one page is easier to process, makes it easier to program skip logic, and can be another way of how to increase survey response rates for your research.

Some other design-related features that can make it easier for your respondents to process your survey include:

 

Amount of text used for questions and answers

Including a lot of text in your questions requires more effort on the part of the respondent to process, which can lead to greater respondent fatigue as they advance through the survey.  Understandably, some questions may require a greater level of detail to ensure respondents fully understand what you are asking them.  However, brevity can prove useful whenever possible.  An answer list of 5 options is much easier on the eyes (and the mind) than one with 25 options (see image below for an example).

increase survey respondents

 

Consider Differences in Desktop and Mobile Experiences

When conducting research on Desktop and Mobile devices, it is important to consider the difference in respondents’ experience with these devices. 

Those answering surveys on a Desktop / Laptop are most likely sitting down (unless they are much more agile than I am), and using larger screens.  As such, they may be able to tolerate a greater number of required screen interactions. 

On the other hand, while Mobile respondents may also be sitting down when taking the survey, it is also possible that they may be standing or walking while answering this survey, and as such may be able to tolerate a smaller number of required screen interactions. 

 

Include a Progress Bar

Showing a dynamic progress bar gives respondents a sense that they are advancing in the survey, especially longer ones.  Some respondents may feel more compelled and engaged to finish a longer survey if they can see the finish line. Below is an example of a progress bar.

use a survey progress bar to increase survey response rates

 

Final Thoughts

Designing your digital Voice of the Customer project is a science, and there is no magic formula to creating the perfect survey.  Every website is different, and every company has its own set of business objectives.  As important to keep in mind is that each survey respondent is unique.  While it may be easy to determine the type of feedback you would like to obtain from your survey respondents, the tricky part is finding that balance between what works for you, and what works for your customers to keep them engaged and maintain a good survey response rate. 

While everyone is unique, it is difficult to argue that people prefer to complete something that is easy and requires as minimal effort as possible.  Therefore, when figuring out how to increase survey response rates, it is important to keep the respondents’ experience in mind by keeping it engaging and easy, while ensuring that your research still reflects your current business needs. 

Image source: Unsplash

Philippe Aussant

Philippe Aussant is a research analyst and support professional with over 6 years of experience. As Product Support Manager, Philippe is responsible for managing client support requests and the iPerceptions support forum, as well as creating documentation and user guides for the Active Research platform.

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