If you’ve ever conducted customer research, you probably know what it feels like to be surprised by the lack of response rate. You think that a survey is going to get you some incredible insights into the people who have used your product, but in reality, only a few people respond at all.
As it turns out, there are myriad reasons why this happens. If you’re struggling with low response rates for your online surveys and want to get expert insight into how to improve them, keep reading for 13 reasons why your surveys may not be getting the results that you want.
|1. Understand the Importance of Target Audience|
|2. Craft Clear and Relevant Survey Questions|
|3. Keep Surveys Brief and Engaging|
|4. Consider Survey Timing and Frequency|
|5. Provide Incentives for Participation|
|6. Optimize Survey Accessibility and User Experience|
|7. Avoid Leading or Biased Questions|
|8. Conduct Thorough Pilot Testing|
|9. Leverage Multi-Channel Distribution|
|10. Emphasize Survey’s Value and Impact|
|11. Use Data Analysis to Extract Insights|
|12. Implement Actionable Changes Based on Feedback|
|13. Continuously Iterate and Improve Survey Strategies|
1. Your Survey Is Too Long
Making sure your survey is not too long can be tricky, but it’s one of the most important aspects of getting results. If your respondents are bored or have to spend so much time on it that they forget what they’re answering, they won’t complete the survey at all.
To test whether or not your survey is too long, ask a few friends to take it and see what happens. If it works for them and they finish in less than 20 minutes, then congratulations you’ve succeeded. If not, keep working until you find something that works for everyone involved.
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2. You’re Not Proofreading Your Surveys
- Spell check is great, but it’s not foolproof. It can’t tell you whether or not you’ve used the wrong word or if a sentence might have more than one meaning.
- Grammar check is also useful, but it doesn’t catch everything especially when you’re using abbreviations in your survey questions. For example: “How many” instead of “How many people.”
- Auto-correct and auto-fill make things worse because they replace words with similar ones (like “your” and “you’re”).
This leads to awkward-sounding phrases like “Your name,” which sounds strange if the person answering the survey isn’t talking about himself/herself directly.
- Autocorrect can help fix some errors as well, but it also has its limits and may even introduce new mistakes into your survey questions. For example
If you typed out a question asking how far someone drove to get somewhere recently, autocomplete might fill in “how far did take me” instead of changing an incorrect word (like taking) into something equally incorrect (like took).
3. You’re Asking The Wrong Questions
Three things can go wrong when you ask your survey respondents: yes/no, multiple-choice and ranking questions. These types of questions will often be misinterpreted by respondents and yield misleading results.
The best way to avoid this is by using open-ended questions and asking how many instead of how much or how often in your ranking question options.
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4. You’re Getting Your Survey In Front Of The Wrong Audience
A lot of companies create surveys and then wonder why they don’t get the results they want. They ask themselves: “Why aren’t people responding to my survey?”
The reason is simple: There’s no incentive for the users to participate. You have to know your audience and what will motivate them enough to take it. Your goal should be to reach as many people from your audience who fit this description as possible, so you can get a sizable sample size for your analysis.
There are many different ways that you can run an online survey, but one thing remains constant in all of them: You have to have a good list of email addresses where you can send it out with a clear call-to-action for people to participate (i.e., “take our survey”).
5. You’re Not Providing A Way To Thank Respondents
You should be thanking respondents for their time, feedback, and experience. It is a gift to them (and to you) for them to take time out of their day and share their opinions.
You can thank people in many ways:
- Use a Thank You Page: If you use ClickTale or some other heatmap software, you can see where they scroll most often on your pages. Make sure that the “Thank You” link is near the top of those scroll-throughs so it doesn’t get missed by anyone who’s responded.
- Thank Them In An Email After They Submit Their Survey: Yes, it’s another email blast but this one will be appreciated by those who took the time out of their day to fill out your survey and are probably ignored by all others.
6. The Questions Are Too Vague And They Don’t Give Enough Context
You may be asking questions, but if the answers are too vague or don’t provide enough context, you won’t get the results you want.
There are several ways to ensure that your questions are specific and give enough context:
- Use examples when describing a situation in a question. This will help respondents answer accurately and make it easier for them to relate their past experiences with the topic at hand.
For example, instead of asking “How often do you eat fast food?” ask “In an average week how many times do you eat fast food?” This way, respondents can relate their answers to something they’re familiar with in their weekly routines!
- Provide more details on each option within multiple-choice questions so respondents know exactly what they’re choosing from rather than simply picking one that sounds good or fits their needs best.
Also, consider using checkboxes instead of radio buttons if there are more than three options; this will allow users who aren’t sure which the third option should be selected by default.
Get rid of any confusion right away without having to go back through every single radio button just because there are too many choices available at once.
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7. Your Design Needs Work
If you want your survey to be effective, the design must be clear and easy to read. You should also make sure the design is consistent with your brand and that it’s mobile-friendly no one wants to complete a survey on their smartphone only to discover they can’t finish because of a broken link.
The design should also be easy for users to navigate, as well as easy for them to understand what they’re being asked and how they should answer those questions.
If your survey doesn’t look good enough or isn’t user-friendly enough, then people will feel like there must be something wrong with it because no one would create such an ugly thing if they weren’t trying to hide something (or at least they think so).
8. Your Survey Is Too Technical And It’s Hard To Understand The Questions
One of the biggest reasons why surveys don’t get the results you want is that they’re too hard to understand. If people can’t understand what they’re reading and have questions about how to complete it, they won’t bother taking it at all and you’ve missed out on useful data!
Here are some tips to make sure your survey is easy for people to understand:
- Use simple language. Don’t use industry jargon or technical terms unless your respondents have experience in that field. Instead, use plain language with basic phrases like “choose from these options” instead of “select an answer option.”
Avoid using technical words that could confuse respondents and make them stop filling out your survey altogether. For example, instead of saying “referral bonus,” say “rewards for referring friends.”
- Use a conversational tone throughout the survey so it doesn’t feel robotic and boring (this also makes reading easier).
9. Your Survey Isn’t Mobile-Friendly And It’s Hard To Complete On A Smartphone Or Tablet
If you’re not sure if your survey is mobile-friendly, ask yourself these questions:
- Can users perform all of the tasks on a mobile device?
- If a user wants to take the survey on their phone or tablet, will they be able to complete it without having to switch back and forth between devices?
- Is your website optimized for viewing on mobile devices?
If you can’t say “yes” to all three of these questions, then chances are that your survey isn’t mobile-friendly. And if this is the case, you’re missing out on valuable data because users won’t complete your online survey if they have difficulty doing so.
Understanding what can go wrong in marketing research is key to improving your outcomes. Explore the reasons behind potential pitfalls in our article on analyzing what went wrong with marketing research. By identifying common challenges and their solutions, you can navigate around obstacles and achieve better results with your online surveys.
10. You Don’t Disclose How You’ll Use The Information Gathered In The Survey, So People Are Going To Assume The Worst-Case Scenario.
You need to let people know how you’ll be using the information gathered in your survey. If you don’t, then people are going to assume the worst-case scenario: that their responses are going to be shared or sold or used for marketing purposes.
11. The Timing Is Wrong
If your survey is timed poorly, the results won’t be as accurate or insightful. The timing of your survey can affect response rates, the quality of answers, and the number of respondents.
Timing also impacts your cost. If you’re paying people to complete your survey it will be more expensive if fewer people are responding because it takes longer to get through all the questions.
The more people who take part in a survey, the quicker it goes and therefore cheaper for you (this is why we recommend using a tool like Typeform).
12. You Don’t Offer Compensation For Respondents’ Time
Another reason why your online surveys don’t get the results you want is that you don’t offer compensation for respondents’ time.
While offering a small incentive for completing an online survey may not be necessary for everyone, it’s important to realize that some people will only complete your survey if they are given an incentive.
This is especially true when it comes to long surveys or surveys with lengthy questionnaires. If your survey takes up more than 20 minutes of a person’s time, then you should consider offering some sort of compensation to encourage them and make sure they stay on task until they finish answering all your questions.
Some examples of effective incentives include:
- Giving away prizes such as gift cards or coupons
- Offering discounts on products/services (e.g., $10 off a purchase)
- Giving away free products/services (like Amazon Prime memberships)
13. You’re Asking Too Many Closed-Ended Questions
Closed-ended questions are easier to answer, but they don’t give you much information. Open-ended questions take longer to complete and can be difficult for respondents to answer due to the length or complexity of the question.
The payoff? Open-ended questions often yield data that are more detailed, more honest, and more accurate. For example: while you might get a lot of answers when asking your audience if they liked a certain product (closed-ended), it’s better to ask them what they liked about it (open-ended).
Uncover the demand for your product by finding the right market. Our guide on identifying the market with demand provides insights into researching and understanding your audience. Tailoring your online surveys to the needs of the market can lead to more accurate and valuable results for your business.
Remember that the best way to get effective feedback from your survey is to keep it short, simple, and focused. You don’t have to ask every question you can think of you just need the right questions for your goal.
By using the tips in this article and heeding the warnings about common mistakes, we hope you’ll be on your way to getting great survey results.
Expand your understanding of online surveys and survey responses with these additional resources:
Advantages of Online Surveys Learn about the numerous benefits of utilizing online surveys for research and data collection. Discover insights on the flexibility, reach, and efficiency of online survey methods. Read more at SmartSurvey.
Senior Years – Survey Techniques Explore survey techniques and their applications in senior education. Gain insights into designing surveys, collecting data, and analyzing results in various educational contexts. Dive deeper into survey methodology at Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute.
Reasons for Low Survey Responses Uncover reasons why your surveys might not be receiving the desired number of responses. Learn about common pitfalls and strategies to improve participation rates. Get valuable insights from SurveySensum to enhance your survey engagement.
People Also Ask
How Do I Get More People To Take My Surveys?
The key to getting more people to take your surveys is to make them easy and convenient for respondents. The easier it is for someone to complete the survey, the more likely they are to do so.
How Often Should I Send Out A Survey?
You should send out a survey at least once every month, if not more often. The longer you wait between sending out surveys, the more likely respondents will be less engaged and more likely to abandon your survey before finishing it.
Why Do I Get A High Number Of People Who Don’t Answer My Questions?
There are many reasons why people might not answer your survey questions. Here are some of the most common:
- They were confused by the wording or layout of the question and didn’t understand what they were supposed to do or how to answer it.
- They were distracted or interrupted while taking the survey and answered too quickly without thinking through their responses.
- They didn’t like the topic of the survey, so they decided not to take it seriously and just skipped over any questions that made them uncomfortable or unhappy.
- They didn’t feel that their opinion mattered maybe because you made it seem like you already knew what they thought before asking them anything.
What Are The Different Types Of Surveys?
The type of survey you use depends on what you’re trying to learn. There are two main types of surveys: closed-ended and open-ended. Closed-ended surveys ask respondents to select from a list of possible answers.
Open-ended questions are more engaging because they allow respondents to write their answers, which is great for learning about customers’ needs and wants.
Why Do My Surveys Take So Long To Finish?
This is a common issue with online surveys, and it’s usually due to a few different factors:
- People are just not that interested in your survey topic.
- You’re asking people too many questions. This can be fixed by using more open-ended questions, or by asking fewer questions overall.
- You’re asking them to answer the same thing multiple times, which is frustrating and makes people less likely to finish the survey.
How Do I Know If I’m Asking The Right Questions?
If you have a goal in mind, you need to make sure that your survey addresses that goal. For example, if your goal is to find out what people like about your product/service, then this should be reflected in your survey questions.
How Do I Know If I’m Asking Too Many Questions?
It’s better to ask fewer, more specific questions than it is to ask a long list of general questions that don’t allow respondents to give detailed answers.
You can also do this by using open-ended questions instead of multiple-choice ones the latter will force respondents into giving only one answer, whereas open-ended ones allow them more freedom in their responses.
Are Online Surveys Worth It?
Online surveys are a great way for companies to get feedback from their customers and clients, but they aren’t always the best way to do that. People tend to be more honest when they’re talking directly to someone, which is why in-person surveys tend to get better results than online ones.
People are also more likely to answer questions honestly in person because they don’t feel like they’re being judged or that anyone will see their answers.
Can I Customize My Survey?
Yes! You can customize your survey as much as you want, so long as you have enough participants for the data to be statistically significant (for example, if you’re trying to determine whether people prefer Coke or Pepsi). If not, the results may not mean anything and they could even be misleading.
What Is The Best Way To Determine Whether Or Not An Online Survey Will Work For My Business?
The answer to this question depends on your goals, but there are a few things that you can keep in mind as you start to plan your survey.
First, make sure that you have a clear understanding of what you want to know from the survey results. You may need to conduct some preliminary research before creating the survey itself. This will help ensure that your questions are relevant and effective.
Second, try not to ask too many questions at once this can cause confusion or frustration among respondents, who may abandon the survey early on. Instead, break up your questions into sections with easy-to-understand labels (e.g., “For this section of the form…”) so that people know where they are in the process.
Third, be sure to include multiple choice answers when possible this helps make it easier for respondents (and makes your job easier!).
Costantine Edward is a digital marketing expert, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who helps people attain financial freedom. I’ve been working in marketing since I was 18 years old and have managed to build a successful career doing what I love.