Predicting survey response rates

What is a normal survey response rate?

Article: 000002344 Product: Online Survey

Predicting survey response rates

As a rule of thumb, 10-20% is a common survey response rate. Response rates can vary widely, however, depending on factors like survey length, incentives, and whether potential participants care about the survey's topic.

Simply watch and record the response rate the first time you do a survey. Then, the next time you do a survey, use these tips to to try to get a better response rate. 

How Survey Structure and Content Affects Response Rates

You can adjust your survey's setup and content to help boost your survey's response rate. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Clarity of purpose and privacy policy
    Your survey is likely to get more responses if its introduction clearly defines its purpose and intentions for handling personal information.
  • Length 
    Short surveys tend to get more responses than long surveys. Only ask respondents what you need to know, not what is just "nice to know."
  • Question types
    Respondents are more likely to answer close-ended questions than open-ended questions because they typically require less time and thought to complete.
  • Frequency and uniqueness
    The less frequently you survey a particular audience and the more you vary your questions among consecutive surveys, the higher your response rate is likely to be.
  • Incentives
    Offering incentives can boost response rates, but you may not need to offer an incentive to get a good response rate.
  • Response data from past surveys, if available
    If your surveys have received a high response from the target audience in the past, your response rate may be about the same with your next survey (depending on the other factors listed above).

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How Your Audience Affects Response Rates

To get a good response rate, you need to know your audience. Consider your audience's:

  • Recognition of you
    Potential respondents are more likely to answer surveys if they are familiar with you or your brand.
  • Investment in you
    The more audience members who feel devoted to your organization, the greater your response rate may be.
  • Interest in the survey topic
    More contacts will be motivated to respond to your survey if its topic relates to, or could impact, the participants or something they care about.  

    Examples of participants who are likely to participate in a survey include: long-time customers, employees, members, or anyone with a strong (negative or positive) opinion of the survey topic.

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