In an era where survey requests bombard consumers, few have the time or energy to take them. So, how do you make yours stand out? Here are five tips to improve your survey response rate.

1. Keep it short and snappy

A lot of questions are answered by outliers who’ve had a very specific experience they want to comment on. This works well for companies to handle service complaints or prevent future problems, but it doesn’t do much to aggregate the information of the average customer. If you want to get information about your target audience, make it easy for them.

One way to do that is to respect your customers’ time. Don’t ask for responses with a high word count requirement, or ask people to rank a long list. By asking fewer questions, you give recipients the chance to be thoughtful in their responses.

Short and snappy example:

As this image from Engadget shows, Uber’s quick survey makes it simple to provide feedback in the form of stars. And, if there’s a problem, the survey taker can provide more details about their trip. The survey taker feels in control of their level of involvement.

2. Engage through questions

Make your questions interesting and easy to read; a poor design reflects poorly on your brand. The average email survey response rate is around 30 percent, so to get a large amount of recipients and make your data statistically relevant, you need to draw people in with eye-catching words and images.

Engaging example:

This example works because it connects with the audience in a positive way. It also lets recipients of this email know exactly how long the survey will take and how many questions it has. It also uses a tip we’ll cover below: offering incentives.

3. Ask questions in person

Take advantage of event booths and trade shows by using them as opportunities to interact with your customers. Not only can you speak to them or help them fill out a survey (try an iPad survey or a printed survey you hand out at your table), but you can pick up clues from their body language. To thank them, be ready to hand out gift cards or let people add their name to a raffle.

4. Offer an incentive

Incentives are an inexpensive way to boost your response rates. We’ve listed it last because your focus shouldn’t just be on paying to get responses, but on your customer experience itself. Use the above tips to position the survey in a way that makes people want to answer your questions. If people only take your survey for the chance of a reward, they may hurry through or fill it in without looking too closely.

Incentive example:

Not only does this ThredUP email come at the right time — right after a purchase — but it’s clear how much time and money is in it for the recipient. This forward approach lets you decide beforehand if you’re willing to spend the time required to get the reward.

5. Recognize opportunities for your business type

Survey design tips for different types of businesses are generally the same, but here are a few business-specific tips:


Try giving a paper survey at the end of the meal with the check or including a URL on the receipt where patrons can go to fill out the survey. Ask questions like: Was your meal satisfying? How was the overall service? Are you likely to dine with us again?

Retailers and service businesses

After a consultation or shopping trip, include a survey in customers’ information kit or shopping bag. With it, offer a discount or promotion for the next time they use your service or shop with you. Ask them how they’d rate their appointment, and how you could improve their experience in the future.


To get recipients to engage with your nonprofit survey, let them know how completing the survey will contribute to improving the nonprofit’s work toward the cause.

Create the survey

You know how you want to format and ask your questions, but how do you make and distribute the survey? VerticalResponse’s Survey tool gives you the flexibility and ease you need to make and deploy an effective survey. Surveys are mobile-friendly to allow customers to respond when it’s convenient for them, and you don’t need to know how to code to create one. With unlimited surveys and real-time results, long-term success isn’t far away. Get the customer insights your company needs.

Take what you learn from the surveys to make improvements on what’s not working or to keep going with what’s working

Regardless of the tip (or tips!) you decide to implement, remember to reach out through email, physical mail, social media and your website to make sure people know about your survey.

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© 2019, Lindsey Bakken. All rights reserved.

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