What to consider to increase survey response rates
Make it relevant.
- Solicit responses from specific student populations who have reason to be interested.
- Explain thoroughly in the email what the purpose of the survey is.
Help students understand the value of their response by sharing results.
- Preface survey links with an explanation of what results are being used for.
- Send follow-emails sharing a few findings.
- Cite assessment results when publicizing new programs/decisions.
- Publish certain results on a website, newsletter or blog.
- Enact a publicity campaign thanking students for their participation in surveys
Decrease the number of times you ask a student to complete an emailed survey.
- Break the student body into 3 – 6 “panels” of random students and send to one panel at a time.
- Use the larger group only when necessary, such as when you need to generalize to the entire population or significantly filter results.
- Use other administration methods: web-based on-site, paper, PDAs, etc.
- Consider smaller incentives with higher chances of winning (give out three $10 gift cards instead of one $30) which has shown to be more effective.
- Consider “immediate” incentives, like coupons or printable gift certificates, which have shown to be more enticing.
- Use incentives sparingly so as not set up an expectation where students will only participate if an incentive is offered.
Send notification at appropriate times.
- People are more likely to complete a survey when they first open it than to go back into it. They’ll either do it, or delete it. This is why most responses come in the first day.
- Identify when students are more likely to respond and email during those times.
- Send reminders to non-responders using the Mass Mailing feature. You’ll see a peak with each reminder without having to aggravate those who have already completed the survey.
Keep survey length down,
- Tell the student exactly how long it will take them to reply. (Pilot with colleagues or students to ensure you are accurate in your estimate!)
- Include only truly necessary questions. Ask yourself: Why would I use this piece of data?
- If you need to link responses to demographics, upload student data to Campus Labs Baseline to be matched to student responses.
- Send a pre-notification email asking for their participation.
- Ask student leaders/government for their endorsement and help publicizing.
Think carefully about the “from” address.
- Send emails from a name students will recognize and trust.
Make sure a survey is really needed.
- Consider if another data collection method such as observations or focus groups would be more appropriate.
- Ensure the data you are looking for doesn't already exist somewhere on campus (e.g., through an institutional survey, one run by another department, tracking/usage data)
- If you have run the same survey in previous semesters with the similar results and few changes to your services/programming, consider giving that survey a year or two off.
- Make sure you have analyzed, used, and shared the data you have collected from previous surveys before starting any new ones.
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