If you are about to carry out a survey, you have probably already considered this question: how do I achieve the highest possible response rate? A high response rate is critical to ensuring that the subsequent dataset gives you useful and reliable information. But don't worry, you don't have to be an expert in survey methodology to get started. Here are 6 tips that will help you achieve as many responses as possible for your next survey.
1. Ask about the right things
Cut to the chase and only ask about what you need answers to. Before you start designing the survey, it's important to define its objectives as precisely as possible. When the purpose has been clarified, it's much easier to determine whether each of the questions actually serves that purpose. If the survey has multiple objectives, it's often better to divide it into two or more surveys – which are then distributed with gaps between them. Short, precise surveys achieve higher response rates than long, comprehensive surveys. Put yourself in the respondent's shoes: wouldn't you also rather respond to a few pointed questions that are relevant to you than answer a wide range of questions about anything and everything?
2. Ask at the right time
There is no single perfect time to send out a survey. But put yourself in the recipient's shoes and try to decipher when the recipient could be expected to have a relevant opinion about the topic being explored by the survey. If you feel that the ideal times seems to be 14 days away, it may be worthwhile waiting until then. When the topic is current and pertinent to the recipient, the survey will generate more numerous and comprehensive results.
3. Make the question clear
If your questions are lengthy and difficult to understand, there is a greater risk of the recipient misunderstanding or skipping them or of abandoning the survey altogether. Use words that everyone in the target group will understand and avoid technical terms, if possible. It may be a good idea to ask a colleague or friend who fits the target group to test the survey, and to observe how the person responds to each of the questions. It's natural to automatically use one's own technical language without realising it. Feedback from the target group can help remove unnecessary technical terminology and come up with questions that are not confusing or unsuitably worded.
4. Ask through the right channels
If you know the target group for your survey, you can also find out which media people in the group use. Surveys can now be carried out in many different ways and places, such as via email, SMS, digital mail, QR codes and social media. And you can easily use several channels at the same time. When you hit the target group on the platform they are using, you increase the likelihood of them seeing your message and having the time and inclination to respond. If it's possible for them to answer when they are sitting in the train on the way to or from work, perhaps the recipient should receive an email early in the morning or in the afternoon after work. In other situations, you may be aware that you are sending emails to work addresses. In that case, sending an email at lunchtime may well increase the response rate. What all of the methods have in common is that the more options for ways to respond you can give respondents, the more likely they are to do it. So, as an example, consider whether a conventional invitation email should be followed up with a reminder via SMS. You'll be surprised by how this affects results.