How to Improve Graduate Survey Response Rates | 7 Market Research Tips

improve graduate survey response rates market researchHigher education institutions use graduate surveys for a variety of reasons. Some use this voice of customer (VoC) work to understand job placement of recent graduates for marketing purposes while others use it to better understand how the institution prepared the student for his or her career. Some use it for both. Whatever your driver is, reaching out to recent graduates during a large transition in their life can make response rates challenging. Younger generations live across devices (mobile, laptops, tablets) and locking them down to take a quick 5-minute survey is more difficult than it sounds. Therefore, many higher education institutions struggle with receiving enough data on a regular basis from recent graduates.

Here are 7 tips for improving response rates to graduate surveys:

Tip 1: Ensure your survey is mobile friendly.

Virtually all of those in the youngest adult demographic (aged 18 to 34) own a smartphone. Making your survey mobile optimized is critical. Any type of incorrect formatting or issue with the user experience (UX) will undoubtedly cause your recent graduate to bounce.

Tip 2: Explore all sampling options.

Using one channel may not suffice. Think about how you can integrate multiple touch-points into your graduate surveys to increase the number of responses. This could include a pre-awareness letter through the mail, phone calls, publicity on your college website, or even text reminders should the student opt-into such an option.

Tip 3: Social media engagement.

Similar to higher usage rates of smartphones, this recent graduate population is also very heavy into social ​media. Facebook is still a main source for social (even among teens according to Pew believe it or not) with growth in Instagram and Snapchat. Some platforms are better than others, but consider your choices here to boost awareness of your surveying efforts.

Tip 4: Focus on a clean student database.

Good lists going in will result in good data coming out. Make sure you work with upcoming graduates to obtain recent or expected contact information post-graduation which includes personal (non-school) email addresses, physical addresses, and phone numbers.

Tip 5: Make the survey engaging.

Although​ your online survey is not a trip to Disney World, think of outside of the box ways to keep a recent graduate engaged and entertained. Consider visual options over text and consider changing scales to reduce monotony.

Tip 6: Find the right time to survey.

The exact time to survey post-graduation is tricky. This could be 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months after graduation. The shorter the grace period, the better response rate, while the longer you wait to survey the further removed the student will be. However, the longer the grace period, the higher likelihood of graduates finding employment which will improve your job placement statistics. You have to find the grace period that works best for your goals. 6 months seems is the agreed upon happy medium.

Tip 7: Offer an incentive.

Every bit helps. Enticing the fence-riders to participate through a raffle, gift card, or sweepstakes, does help improve response rates. It's a small suggestion but a suggestion nonetheless. Not convinced, here is an article which explains how offering market research rewards can actually lower the overall cost of your project.

Drive Research is a higher education market research firm located in Upstate, NY. Our company consults and works with higher education institutions on enrollment surveys, admissions surveys, program feasibility studies, and qualitative brand equity research. Questions? Contact us at 315-303-2040 or email us at to see if we can help you.

Online Surveys