Over the past 15 years working in market research, I've heard this several times. The story usually goes something like this:
"I receive survey invites all of the time. I never participate. I am asked to offer feedback on anything and everything I buy and I do not respond. How are you going to get anyone to respond to a survey?"
Well, an entire industry has been built around respondents offering feedback and taking surveys. If people did not participate in surveys, our industry would not exist nor our company. This is why it is crucial to make sure respondents enjoy their experience and the time they spend offering feedback is worth their while.
In this post, more detail is provided to disprove the myth that no one responds to surveys. In fact as I type this hundreds and thousands of survey responses are being submitted to market research companies across the world.
Here's how customer survey companies like Drive Research obtain responses.
Don't wave the white flag on surveys because you fear a poor or no response rate. "If you build the survey, people will reply". - Exact quote from Field of Dreams (1989)
Market Research is a Numbers Game
Yes, there is a percentage of people in the world who will never respond to surveys. They may receive email invites for a recent hamburger purchase, a phone call about a customer service experience with their satellite TV company, or a mail survey from Nielsen asking about their digital habits. There are some people who will not spend a second answering questions to those surveys.
However, market research is a numbers game. For every 1 or 2 of those respondents, there are 1 or 2 others who are willing to participate. The percentage of those who respond to your survey outreach depends on a number of factors.
Here are some items which impact response rate to email surveys:
① The date and day of the week you send the invite
② The time of the day you send the invite
③ The strength of the relationship you have with your customer
④ The length of the survey
⑤ The length of the email invitation text
⑥ The incentive or reward for participating
⑦ The mood of the survey respondent
⑧ How often the respondent checks his or her email
⑨ And many, many, more
You can see why predicting a response rate is nearly impossible. Predicting a response rate would have to account for all of these factors blended together.
A good customer survey company can recommend an expected response rate or ballpark it, but it can be largely unpredictable with some clients.
Surveys Need to be Engaging
More so than anything else, the myth of no one taking surveys is driven by actions taken by the industry players over the past 15 years. Many market research companies are not willing to bend on length of survey or number questions. They try to answer anything and everything in one survey and as a result it burns out respondents. If this happens over and over again with surveys, the respondent completely disengages from any future survey outreach.
Many firms only focus on their objectives: "We need all 70 of these questions answered by our customers", instead of viewing things from the respondent perspective and asking: "What are the core questions we need answered in a quick and timely fashion from our customers?"
In large part, customer survey companies put out surveys that are dry, bland, and boring. They are not fun. They are not engaging. This needs to change and is changing with how our market research company approaches asking questions.
Need some advice on how to make your survey questions more engaging? Read this in-depth post on 4 tips to get you there.
Simple Tips to Boost Response Rates
In addition to making surveys engaging, here are some other basic tips to improve the number of people who take your survey. These tactical tips will help you disprove the myth that no one will respond to your survey.
① Keep your survey short: 3 to 5 minutes, 15 questions or less if you can
② If your survey software allows, give the respondent the ability to save responses and revisit
③ Make sure your survey is mobile-friendly, over 50% of surveys are taken via mobile
④ If you are surveying customers, send a pre-awareness email explaining the importance
⑤ Raffle off a reward, this can be something as simple as 3 $50 gift cards
⑥ Send reminders, not just the initial invitation
⑦ Send a thank you to let them know you have received their feedback
⑧ Take the survey feedback and make changes, improvements help with the next survey
Contact Our Customer Survey Company
Questions about a new project? Need advice on an upcoming survey? Contact us: