By Nigel Lindemann

Getting people to fill out and complete a survey can be quite a hassle. Some surveys have response rates as low as 10%…

That’s why we have composed a list of methods to avoid that happening to you!

How To Find Your Demographic

It’s important to identify your key demographics and focus only on these people. If the survey topic is important or relevant to the recipient, response rate raises between 12 and 14 percent. Make sure you segment and target your database to survey only the most relevant potential respondents. In order to do this you can use tools such as Clearbit Sheets or which allow you to analyze your database and automatically determine key attributes to your survey such as gender and age.

Respect People’s Privacy

Nowadays, people are more reluctant to share personal details. Having a clear privacy disclaimer will make people more likely to answer honestly. And have a positive effect on the response rate of your survey.

Include In Your Disclaimer

  • What personal data you are collecting
  • How the data will be used and whether it will be disclosed to anyone else
  • How respondents can contact you: provide contact information
  • If and how they change or delete their personal information

Only collect the minimum of personal information necessary. Put your disclaimer in your invitation email and near your demographics in the survey.

Make The First Page Simple

Once people have decided to take your survey, get them started ASAP. But you can’t just throw them in the deep end and hope for the best. You have to inform them first on:

  • Why you are surveying
  • What you will do with the results
  • What’s in it for them

Try to do this in a concise manner. Think of your instructions as a manual: Respondents will just skim through it (at best). So keep the introduction to less than 400 characters.

If you can’t do it in less, put the “what you will do with the results” part close to where you ask for demographics instead of in the first page. Here, it will serve as a reminder and improve the respondent’s willingness to share his personal details.

Optimize Your Survey For All Devices

In a world where mobile reigns, responsive design has become the standard. This is especially true when you use an online survey, since you have no control over which devices your respondent will use. You have to make sure your survey can be filled out anytime, anyplace and on any device, not only cross-browser, but cross-platform too!

Not sure if you’re doing it right?

Run your survey through Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see how mobile friendly your survey is.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Keep your survey text and questions short
  • Make sure there’s minimal to no horizontal scrolling
  • Avoid matrix questions or image choice questions with more than 6 images, they will kill your completion rate on small screens


Basically, the participant is more likely to participate if the rewards of participation outweigh the costs. Luckily, incentives don’t have to be expensive to increase response rates. For example a free sample of your new product can be a reasonably cheap prize, which could also benefit your brand awareness: a real win-win situation.

Note that larger monetary incentives tend:

  • To produce a greater degree of effort put in completing the questionnaires, as measured by the number of short answers and comments provided, and the number of words written
  • To produce comments that were more favorable toward the survey sponsor. Especially the second result is interesting, because giving a too big incentive, will return more positive answers, which may cause a biased result

Publish Your Results And Act On Them

In general most respondents will want to see results. Communicating the survey’s results to the respondents will maximize participation in future surveys. Some may even want to stay in the loop on future developments on the matter.

Publish your results and, more importantly, act on them, if it’s possible (privacy or confidentiality clauses or concerns may prohibit sharing data). Also include numbers and statistics, they give the results more authority and show the scale of research the respondent was part of.

A couple of examples you can use to communicate the effect of the respondent’s time and effort:

  • If and how you changed your product
  • Benefits or improvements you made because of their feedback
  • How your company’s new branding looks like
  • New services you offer or have altered

Bonus tip: People who show interest in the results, make a good target audience for a follow up survey.

By Nigel Lindemann, Survey Anyplace