What is the Typical Response Rate for a Survey?




Response rates vary widely depending on a number of factors. For online surveys in which there is no prior relationship with recipients, response rates can be as high as 20% to 30%.



Factors that can affect the response rate include:


The target population — Are you are trying to obtain responses from a hard-to-reach population (e.g., males age 18 to 24 who play video games)?


Your relationship with the survey respondents—Are the potential respondents customers or employees?


The survey invitation—Can you personalize the email invitation to include the potential respondents’ names? How much can you divulge about the nature of the research?


The survey length—Will your survey take 5 minutes of respondents’ time or 15 minutes?


The complexity of the survey questions—Will you be asking respondents to simply answer straight-forward questions or will you ask them to visit a Web site and then provide their impressions?


The survey topic—Will your potential respondents have a vested interest in the topic (e.g., improving employee benefits)?


Incentives—Will you motivate potential respondents to take your survey with some form of financial compensation, material goods, or information? 


Reminder emails—Will you be able to send a reminder to respondents who haven’t completed the survey?


If you don’t have access to the target audience for your survey objectives, Zoomerang has a survey respondent service called Zoomerang Sample. A Zoomerang Sample representative can help you specify and access your target audience, compose your survey invitation, and administer the survey incentive.


You can find more information on response rate, and tips for improving yours, in the posts “How Many People Do I Survey?” and “12 Tips To Help Increase Your Survey Response Rates” 

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9 Responses to What is the Typical Response Rate for a Survey?

  1. grandtrines says:

    How does paper compare to e-mail?

    • zoomerang says:

      It’s hard to make that comparison because MarketTools (Zoomerang’s parent company) doesn’t take paper surveys and put them on the internet. We create much more engaging ways for respondents to provide us their opinions offline – such as card sorts, virtual shopping, text highlighter, etc. These internet-specific approaches keep the respondent more interested and provide better quality data than paper surveys. I think the following article is the best answer I found to this question.

      “Shih and Fan [2008] conducted a meta-analysis of 39 study results published within the last ten years that directly compared web and mail survey modes. See Appendix for response rate results. They found that mail surveys have higher response rates than web surveys in general but there were two factors that significantly influenced response rates: population type and usage of follow-ups. In comparative studies that used college populations, the weighted average web survey response rate was higher than that of mail surveys by 3%. However, for other populations (e.g., professionals, employees, and general population), the weighted average web survey response rate was lower than the mail survey response rate (23%, 10%, and 13% lower, respectively)….Selm and Jankowski (2006)…also suggest several techniques they may increase response rates. First, the authors suggest that researchers undertake multiple attempts to contact potential respondents via pre-notifications, reminders, replacement surveys, and thank you notes. Second, researchers should utilize a mixed-mode strategy, including both electronic and pencil-and paper questionnaires, in order to reach respondents without access to the Internet. Third, researcher should try to ensure that the survey topic is relevant to the target group. Lastly, researchers should use respondent incentives to stimulate questionnaire completion.” [Tomaszczyk, 2008]

      Alicia Tomaszczyk, “Research Note for Response Rates in Web Surveys – Summer 2008”

  2. Kevin says:

    Very nice information. Thanks for this 🙂

  3. jack says:

    This is the first time I commented here and I must say that you share genuine and quality information! Great job.

  4. michele says:

    When I’ve done email campaigns for clients who are broadcasting a survey, the results have been a mixed bag. The click thru rates are usually between 1-3% depending on the length of the survey and what the incentive is.

  5. g.goldstain says:

    Great article, thank you very much.

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