FAQ: How can I improve my survey response rate?

The key ingredient to effective evidence-based decision making is good evidence. As such, it’s important to make sure that any survey data you’re using represents a good, and ideally large, sample of your audiences. What’s more, if you’re a UK funded organisation (NPO, RFO or APW), then reaching a survey response target may be one of your funding requirements. (See: Why do I have to collect 380 survey responses?)

However, we know as well as you do that this is sometimes easier said than done, so we’ve put together some practical tips which could help, as well as links to further resources and guides.

In general:

  • Respect respondents’ time
    Give a realistic estimate of how long the survey will take to complete.
    Similarly, make sure your survey isn’t too long. It can be tempting to add lots of additional questions but try to only include those that are really valuable to you.

  • Explain why the survey matters
    Whatever the reason you’re running a survey - to help plan future activity, to ensure customer service remains top-notch, to get to know your community - people like to know they’re contributing to something valuable, and that their opinions matter.

  • Offer an incentive
    Adding a prize draw to your survey could be a great way to improve response rates. Can I incentivise my Audience Finder surveys with a prize draw?

If you’re collecting on-site:

If you’re sending the survey by email:

  • Send as soon as possible after the visit
    People are much more likely to engage if their experience is still fresh in the mind.

  • Craft a catchy subject line
    What will make a busy person open this email? Stick to your organisational tone of voice but don’t be afraid of humour, puns or questions in your subject lines.

  • A/B test
    Most email marketing systems allow you to A/B split test an email. You might find response rates are higher to emails sent at the weekend. Or you could split test different subject lines? Read more: I’m a touring organisation, can I re-use survey data from a venue I’ve toured at?

  • Send a reminder (but not too many)
    There’s no harm in sending a reminder to non-respondents. Repeated reminders could get annoying though.

Finally, if you’re finding data collection a challenge (or have some more tips of your own to share), do talk to us and colleagues in the sector via the Community, or contact our Support team.

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