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Online surveys are undoubtedly the most cost-effective way to collect important data such as customer satisfaction and employee opinion. But how to maximize response speed? This is a problem that most online survey companies encounter and there is a great deal of literature related to the topic, all with different facts and figures relative to the response rate expected, response enhancement techniques, length of survey being used etc. .

The simple truth is that there is no unique guideline to follow when conducting an online survey because each survey has its own set of variables that affect the speed of the response. But there are some common techniques used to improve the likelihood that a potential survey respondent will complete your questionnaire.

After doing hundreds of online surveys of customers, employees, businesses, member groups and event guests, I began to record survey response rates and the types of key variables that are most likely to affect them. The variables recorded are:

  1. Have the survey invitations been personalized (i.e. Dear John Smith v Dear Customers)
  2. Survey duration (categorized at completion times 1-4 minutes, 5-9 minutes and 10+ minutes)
  3. If a prize / reward is offered
  4. Whether or not the survey was sent to people with a known interest in the topic of the survey (i.e. job-related, previous customer, social-interest, etc.)

The data below is derived from data from 143 online surveys, which were filled by a total of 49,335 respondents. As a general process, prospective respondents were contacted twice via email to encourage participation in online surveys.

Note that most respondents submitted their information to different databases or were clients of my clients; Otherwise, it is likely that they were aware of the brand / company before they received the internet research call. People who send out emails to random subsets of contacts should not be expected to reach response rates as high as the ones listed below.

Considering the 4 variables and their capabilities, there were 24 possible combinations – this will make sense if we look at the points below. Combinations with the 5 highest and 5 lowest response rates are listed.

The 5 highest response rates

  1. Personalized email and 1-4 minutes to complete and reward offered and respondents knew interest in the survey = 45,3% average response rate
  2. Personalized email and 5-9 minutes to complete and reward offered and respondents knew interest in the survey = 40.1% average response rate
  3. The impersonal e-mail and 1-4 minutes of recharge and rewards offered and respondents had a known interest in the topic of the survey = 39,8% average response rate
  4. Personalized email and 1-4 minutes to complete and does not offer a reward, and respondents knew their interest in the survey = 39.2% average response rate
  5. Personalized e-mail and 5-9 minutes to finish and does not offer a reward, and respondents knew their interest in the survey = 38,4% average response rate

5 lowest response rates

  1. Impersonal e-mail and 10+ minutes to complete and no reward was offered and respondents were not interested in the subject of the survey = 8.2 % average response rate
  2. Impersonal email and 10+ minutes to complete and reward offered and respondents had no interest in the subject of the survey = 15.5% average response rate
  3. Personalized email and 10+ minutes to the end and no prizes were offered & respondents did not have an interest in the subject of the survey = 16.2% average response rate
  4. Impersonal e-mail and 5-9 minutes to complete and no prizes were offered and respondents were not interested in the subject of the survey = 19.4% average response rate
  5. Impersonal email and 10+ minutes to complete and no reward was offered, and respondents knew the interest in the survey = 19.5% average response rate

So what works best?

The above findings show some clear correlations between response rates and the variables that affect them. As a general rule, it seems that the following actions should ensure that you receive the highest possible response rate when conducting an online survey:

  1. Personalize your emails. People are more likely to respond to emails that come with their name, not & # 39; Dear colleague & # 39; or & # 39; Dear Customers & # 39 ;. If you have the names of potential respondents, use them! This is easily achieved by using simple software such as Microsoft Word in the mail merge format that is sent through your Outlook account. It connects directly to your database, eliminating the burden of typing each name into each email invitation.
  2. Keep the survey as short as possible. In most cases, the shorter the survey – the higher the response rate. Obviously, some online surveys need to be detailed and no longer than 10 minutes; However, try to avoid asking questions that only collect irrelevant information. This is a common investigation of a criminal investigation when preparing an online survey question.
  3. Offer a reward. Everyone loves to get something for free, so try and bid on invitations online. Some experts, such as Kurt Knapton, executive vice president of e-Rewards Market Research, suggest that you are more likely to earn a higher response rate if you give each respondent less of a chance to win a big prize. His study found that by offering 4,000 people $ 2 each to complete the survey, it achieved a response rate of 19.3%. Offering the same amount of people who participated in the $ 2,500 draw only managed 12.2%.
  4. Find the contacts who are most likely to be interested in the subject. This is not a scientific discovery, but response rates will always be higher if the respondent’s potential has some interest in the subject of the test. Job satisfaction surveys always receive high response rates because employees believe that their answers will affect beneficial change. After all, repeat customers of a particular product / service will undoubtedly have more interest in a related online survey than one that has used only once or never at all.

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by Ewan McKenzie

 

 

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