You’ve designed your survey and you’re ready to share it with your respondents. But how do you break through today’s information overload and convert those potential respondents into completed responses? This best practice guide offers several tips on how to optimize your surveys and invitations to ensure they get noticed so you can maximize your survey response rate.
1. Avoid Spam Filters
Before you can even think about maximizing your completed responses, you need to make sure the survey invitation is actually reaching your potential respondents. Unfortunately, because of their very nature, survey invitations are prime targets for spam filters. There are, however, a number of steps you can take to mitigate the risk that your survey invitation will be blocked before it reaches your recipients.
- Don’t use spammy subjects or text. Avoid using words like “free”, “prizes”, “win” that tend to trigger filters or cause users to automatically mark your emails as spam before even reading them. Checkbox allows you to fully customize your email subject and personalize it by merging your recipient’s name, company, etc, into the subject or email body.
- Send your email from a recognizable sender name. Respondents will be more likely to open an email and less likely to mark it as spam if it’s from a legitimate name and email address or, even better, a name they recognize. Avoid using obvious mass-marketing email addresses like “noreply” for this reason. With Checkbox email invitations, you can customize both the from name and email address on your invitations.
- Use an email service provider (ESP) with a reliable reputation. Make sure your ESP is well-rated and has a high delivery score – this will help your emails get past organization-level spam filters. Checkbox uses Amazon SES for email delivery, often thought of as the gold-standard in security and reliability.
- Make unsubscribing easy. Nobody wants to lose a subscriber, but making your unsubscribe option prominent and easy to use will prevent recipients from just hitting the Spam button in their email client out of frustration, which will help keep your emails from getting blacklisted. Checkbox requires that you include an opt-out/unsubscribe link on all emails and gives recipients the option to opt out of a single survey or all surveys from your account.
- Keep your lists clean. Don’t pay for recipient lists, ensure your bounces are removed from future email lists, and periodically clean your contact list to make sure your recipients all have valid email addresses. Checkbox automatically removes bounces from future invitations and also includes a user export feature and user management API to help keep your contact lists up to date.
2. Make a Good First Impression
A potential homebuyer makes up her mind within the first 8 seconds of walking through the front door. A website viewer decides whether or not to stay on a page in under 3 seconds. Similarly, if a potential survey respondent takes one glance at your survey and doesn’t like what they see, they will likely close their browser without answering a single question. Follow these tips to engage your respondents and keep them on the page beyond the first question.
- Use recognizable branding. Catch your respondent’s eye with custom branding that includes your logo, background colors or images, and brand messaging. Checkbox allows you to create style templates for each of your surveys that include only your brand, never ours.
- Keep scrolling to a minimum. Don’t overwhelm respondents with very long pages or frustrate them with excessive scrolling – this is especially important for mobile users. Design your survey to keep your respondent engaged and moving through it.
- Less is more. Keep language and question structure simple so that respondents are able to read your questions once and fully understand them. Add instructional pop-ups or link to instructions if you need to include additional information, rather than cluttering your survey page with extra information. Checkbox supports both tooltips and attachments to provide your respondents with additional instructions.
- Support multiple browsers and devices. Make sure your survey looks and performs perfectly in all standard browsers and mobile devices to ensure your respondents always have a positive user experience, no matter how they access your survey. Checkbox is fully mobile-responsive and includes desktop, tablet and mobile preview modes for easy testing.
3. Set Expectations
The information included on the first page of a survey should clearly identify who the survey is from, what it is for, and should set clear expectations on how much time the survey is expected to take to complete. Time yourself taking the survey to gauge an estimate. Knowing the time needed to complete the survey in advance allows respondents to schedule the time to complete the survey. If no time estimate is indicated and a respondent begins the survey assuming it will take 5 minutes, they are more likely to abandon the survey early.
Another best practice is to include survey progress markers, such as page numbers and progress bars, on every page of a survey. Progress markers allow respondents to track their progress, encourage them to continue, and set expectations for how much more time will be needed to complete the survey. Checkbox allows you to set automatic page and question numbering, add a progress bar, and add a welcome message to your recipients to help set their expectations.
4. Only Ask for What you Need
A major source of frustration for survey respondents is being asked to read or answer questions that either don’t apply to them or that they have already answered. Think about the last time you called your credit card company and you had to enter your card number, just to have the customer service representative ask for that same number again! Help prevent this frustration, and thereby improve your response rates, by following these simple tips:
- Use survey logic wisely. Use a combination of question logic, page logic, and skip logic to ensure that your respondents only see the questions that are relevant to them. Checkbox allows you to set up simple and advanced logic rules based on previous questions, user information, or response information.
- Import known respondent information. If you are sending your survey to known respondents and you already have information about them like their name, company, address, etc. don’t waste precious survey space and respondent time by asking for this information again. Instead, use a survey tool like Checkbox that allows you to import respondent information, which can then be exported with your responses, merged into your survey to personalize it, or used to filter your reports.
5. Offer Incentives and Rewards
Although we like to think that respondents want to spend their time completing our surveys, the truth is most of the time they could use a little motivation. Offering an incentive for completing a survey can be an extremely effective way to increase a survey’s response rate.
While you can certainly always add your own coupons and gift card redemption codes manually to the end of a survey, Checkbox Survey has recently partnered with industry-leading digital reward platform Rybbon to make this process even easier for Checkbox users.
Users can sign up for their own Rybbon digital rewards account, choose one more more gift card options that they’d like to offer their survey respondents (in the denomination of their choice), and then display the gift card on their Checkbox completion page or email a copy of the gift card to their respondent. Users can choose from hundreds of popular options such as Amazon, Target, iTunes, Starbucks, Doordash, and more.
Rybbon offers the ability to customize the rewards page and email, as well as merge the respondent’s email address from the survey in order to streamline the process for the gift recipient. Admins also have the option to approve gift cards individually or in batches before they are sent. To further ensure secure delivery and help eliminate duplicate rewards, Checkbox is able to pass a recipient id to Rybbon for authentication.
Checkbox users can learn more about integrating with Rybbon by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 617-231-8891.
6. Make it Count
Give respondents a meaningful reason (in addition to a reward) to complete your survey. Think about who is responding to your survey and the ways you can establish a relationship with them through your survey. Are your target respondents employees? Customers? Whoever your respondents are, they aren’t going to give your survey a second look if they don’t feel invested in it in some way.
Assure them that you will follow up with them where appropriate, and then actually do it in a timely manner. Or, for anonymous surveys, consider being transparent with your survey results by sharing aggregate data with your community. Checkbox offers the option to send automated follow-up emails and triggered emails to survey admins based on the answers to certain questions. You can also create public reports to share with your respondents.
7. Test, Test, Test!
Before making a survey live to potential respondents, make sure you and a few others test the survey for grammar, flow, and ease of use. If you included conditions, test all of the possible logic paths to make sure they work as expected. If you have difficulty taking the survey, so will your respondents. Avoid confusion and survey abandonment by always testing surveys before deploying.
8. Send Strategic Reminders
Sometimes all respondents need to complete a survey is a little push. Just because they didn’t respond to your survey the day you launched it doesn’t mean they didn’t want to – sometimes life just gets in the way. Because this is often the case, it doesn’t hurt to send one or more reminders throughout the survey period..
Create a sense of urgency in survey reminders by informing respondents that time is running out to get their voices heard. Don’t get carried away, though – one or two reminders should be enough to boost your response rate. Checkbox allows you to pre-schedule one or more survey reminders and automatically excludes anyone who has completed the survey, opted out, or bounced.