Online Technology for Research & Insight
Best Practice Header

How to Build Response Rates Online

Follow these guidelines to increase response rates to your online surveys.

Following a few simple guidelines could see response rates to your online surveys improve dramatically. There are two key strategies for increasing response rates: first, you need a well-composed email (or link on a website) that makes potential respondents click through to the survey in the first place. Second, your survey needs to be designed so it is easy for respondents to get through and click on the Submit button. These are our 10 top tips for better response rates:

1. Use appropriate incentives

Remember that the incentives for taking part in your survey need to reflect the type of respondent you are trying to attract – and it's not always material things that will appeal. Prize draws, such as winning a cash prize or store voucher, are often used but you need to be careful about any ethical or legal requirements if you're using them (for instance, some countries require you to register prize draws). If you are looking for more altruistic respondents you might consider incentives such as making a donation to a charity for each response. Another common inducement in the business-to-business arena is to give respondents privileged access to a report on the findings from the research.

2. Put a prominent action point in your email or website link

The wording of an email invitation (or a link on your website) should be concise and to the point. Clearly spell out the incentive or benefit from taking part in the research, then get to the action point. Maybe restrict yourself to one or two sentences and then a "CLICK HERE TO TAKE OUR SURVEY" action link. It is essential that any reminder emails have different wording from the original, otherwise people may have assumed they've read it before and bin it.

3. Watch out for spam triggers in emails

The subject line of an email has to show benefit or value to the respondent, but be careful not to word it so that it gets trapped as spam. You may want to search online for lists of "Spam trigger words". These will often include words like "Free, win, offer and save $". "Can you help us research opinions about XXX?" may get greater response than "Win a free XXX from our prize draw!"