What to consider to increase survey response rates chart.jpg

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.

Use incentives.

  • 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.

Establish credibility.

  • 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.
Have more questions? Submit a request