Six Ways to Boost Response on Your Surveys and Gain More
By Shel Horowitz, for Hostedware Corporation
So you spend time and effort putting together a survey, so
you can have real information about what your customers and
prospects are actually looking for. And you send the survey
to your in-house list, but the flood of responses you're expecting
is only a trickle.
While direct-mail marketing typically enjoys response rates
of 0.5 percent to 2 percent for sales pieces, survey responses
are often far lower.
You're never going to get 100 percent participation. People
are too busy, or some of them are simply not your target audience.
But still, you want to do better than a few hundredths of
a percent. How can you boost responses up to meaningful levels
of 10 percent or more?
Make it EASY to Respond
The less work your respondent has to do, the more responses
you'll get. One click should go right to the survey form,
without requiring registration. You can easily use software
to flag duplicate responses, so ballot-stuffing is not a problem.
And the form itself should be simple, clearly worded, easy
to understand, easy and quick to fill out. Unless there is
a strong business reason for using them, avoid distractions
such as animated GIFs and Flash intros. Depending on your
audience, they could get in the way of the survey or increase
the likelihood that the form will give error messages.
Explain Why Responding HELPS the Respondent
You want this information to better serve your customers,
to offer products and services that more closely meet their
exact needs. Use effective copywriting to convey this point,
that not only do you sincerely value their input, but that
their responses will help you bring products to market that
directly reflect their exact needs. Help them to feel "ownership"
of their role in making these new products happen.
This may be the most crucial factor: your headlines and body
copy should convey that you see your respondents as allies
in solving their problems or increasing their convenience
together. It's all about them, not about you.
REASSURE Your Participants
Everybody worries that if they participate in surveys, they're
going to be hounded with high-pressure sales pitches. Do it
differently; earn your prospects' respect by promising them
that salespeople won't bother them. And keep your promise!
if you design the entire process properly, survey respondents
will seek YOU out to do some business together. You will,
of course, provide them with every tool they need to follow
up with you.
Provide the Chance for REAL Feedback
Include at least one comment field, where respondents can
explain or qualify their answers. You'll get extremely meaningful
information from this technique, well worth the extra labor
in hand-analyzing the results, and once again, you make your
respondents feel valued and important, so that they have a
vested interest in feeling that they're a part of your enterprise.
It may even be worth your while to put a comment field in
for every question.
FOLLOW UP With the Best Respondents
People who make useful comments are prime candidates for focus
groups, beta testing, or simple one-to-one follow-up, focused
on additional research, not sales. They'll be so grateful
that you really value their opinions that they may become
evangelists for your company. Won't they be surprised and
delighted to get a telephone call or a personal e-mail from
the president of your company, thanking them for their response
and asking if they'd like to help you refine your research?
(Be sure to present this as genuine; don't wrap it up in a
Offer INCENTIVES For Responding
Offer thank-you gifts to every entrant, or add all your respondents
to a raffle drawing. The prizes should be relevant to your
company, perhaps one of your own products, or a product or
service that complements yours. At the end of the survey,
ask for contact information if they'd like to receive the
gift or be entered in the drawing.
The more people participate honestly in a survey, the more
useful your market research. And if the incentives are strong
and relevant enough, you know that the responses you get will
be honest, identifiable, and useful.
So there you have it: Make your surveys user-friendly, show
why answering the survey benefits the participant, reassure
them that you won't unleash the sales dogs, offer prospects
the chance to actually influence the direction of your products
and your marketing, follow up appropriately, and offer incentives.
Then watch your survey numbers grow, and put all that useful
information into practice in your product development, customer
service, and of course, your profits.
Shel Horowitz, internationally known marketing
consultant, copywriter, and speaker, specializes in affordable,
effective marketing for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and
nonprofits. The author of the award-winning Grassroots Marketing:
Getting Noticed in a Noisy World and five other books, he
is the owner of (www.frugalmarketing.com).
If you'd like to discuss your next marketing project with
Shel, please visit his site or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org,
This article was originally commissioned and
published by www.Hostedware.com, a leading provider of web
survey and online testing software for research, education
and performance improvement.
Corporation is a pioneer in providing online software
solutions for research, education and performance improvement.
Hosted Survey and Hosted Test are used by human resources
professionals, market researchers, education and training
organizations and membership associations worldwide.
to Articles and Publications