Top 4 rules for optimizing response rates of online surveys

Many of my colleagues and customers urge me to share the secret of the high response rates in our platform. Well, after experimenting and optimizing our algorithm for years, we’re able to reach amazingly high response rates in our on-site automatic surveys. Needless to say that getting high response rates is critical for any onsite survey activity as it’s an enabler to get answers sooner, get better user engagement and have a minimal effect on your site visitors.

Let’s start by understanding the term “Response Rate”. Response rate represents the number of people who completed the survey divided by the sample size (or number of people you tried to contact with the survey). There are many factors that might affect the response rates, and the most common ones are the following factors:

  • Demographics: Some sections of the population are simply more likely to response to survey invitations than others.
  • Engaged customers: Loyal and engaged visitors answer more by default then random visitors.
  • Brand Strength: A survey distributed by a well-known brand gets more responses than one coming from an unknown source.
  • Improvement belief – If the respondents believe that participating in a survey will result in real improvements, response rates may increase, as will the quality of the feedback.

All of the above factors are fundamental and aren’t easy to change, but there are other parameters and methods that are easier to control. This Article will explain the 4 important methods to affect and improve the response rates of your survey.

Rule 1 – Use it Smart – Short and accurate

From time to time, i’m being asked what should be the right length of an onsite survey (A short pop up survey, generated while the site visitor is exploring your site). There is a clear answer to this question.

Users don’t like to be interrupted, but by asking the right question at the right moment, you can reach an impressive response rates which can reduce the feedback cycle. Obviously, each answer inside a survey has a different response rate – this is an important fact you need to understand.

Our research revealed that a successful survey can reach over 24% response rate for the first question of the survey which is an amazing score. The First question is the most important one because once we got the user’s attention we can now get more answers with even higher response rates. For the second question, we usually get up to 48% and for the third question almost 70%. Surprisingly from here there is a sharp decline – the 4th question usually reach 15% response rate and 5th question reach less than 5%.

Bottom line is that an average onsite survey should include no more 3-4 questions to max your response rates and keep your customers happy from this process.

Rule 2 – Seduce, maintain and collect

Some questions catch the visitor’s attention quickly, and some are relevant only to your most engaged visitors. On our platform we differentiate between 5 types of questions, each type of question has a different response rate.

  1. Dichotomous Question – The dichotomous question is generally a “yes/no” question.
  2. Choice Questions – In The choice question the respondent need to choose the most accurate answer out of 2 or more potential answers.
  3. Rate scale – The rate scale question aim to rate a brand, product, or service according to a certain characteristic on a scale of 1 to 10, indicating how well the characteristic describes the product or service.
  4. Open Question – an open question allow the user to write in his on words the answer. Feedback for open question is very important as there are cases we want to hear exactly what the user has to say, But from what we see, such questions usually resolve with a lower response rate as the effort of responding for the user is higher (we usually see that engaged customers answer this type of question with higher response rates)
  5. Lead question –A channel to get the visitor Email or other details that can be added to the your CRM system. Here again we need to appoint it to the most engaged visitors as usually response rates for such type of questions are lower.

But what is the right category mix when creating a new survey?

Yes/No Question tend to get the highest response rate. Users are afraid to commit and to answer a survey, so by asking a simple question with simple answer, it’s easier to seduce the user to answer. Once we have our first answer, we know we can reach higher response rates and we can progress to more “complex” questions like choice and Rate scale. Choice and Rate scale are easy to answer, as users are choosing an answer from a predefined list.

finally, we can try to grab a real authentic answer which required a real effort from the user – open question or lead question. Although open and the lead questions has the lowest response rates, they are the most significant answers, because customers share their feedback in their own words, and it worth a fortune.

So by creating the right survey structure we can “seduce” the user to answer our survey by starting with a Yes/No question, maintain his engagement by initiate a choice or a rate scale question, and end the survey with a question of open or lead type.

Rule 3 – target it with the right context

So we understood how many questions should be on our survey and which type of questions we should use, but is it enough? if we won’t show the surveys to our customers on the right context , the user might find it irrelevant and ignore it. So what is the right Context?

To earn good response rates and get high quality answers, the questions we are appointing to our visitors should have a correlation to the activity of the visitors in the website and should have some kind of correlation to the content of the page they are looking at. For example, we can ask a user who completed a search in the website if he found what he was looking for, or asking a user which scrolled down in a page for a reasonable time, if he find the text in this page useful to him, or a visitor which completed a purchase in an E-commerce site, if he find the purchasing process secure and convenient.

In all of those examples the survey is related to the context of the visitor which really increases any survey response rates.

Rule 4 – Use the right design

Our research discovered a high correlation between clean and clear design of the survey to it’s response rates. With messy designs, users are less engaged and less cooperative to share their voice. In some cases, just by improving the design we were able to reach 150% increase in our response rates.


To Sum in up, there are many factors to consider when planning an onsite survey. The Survey needs to be short

enough to keep it efficient and gain high user engagement and cooperation, we should seduce our visitors to answer our survey by using a question with high response rates as the first question of the survey, we should target it correctly and keep a clean and impressive design.

Luckily, Satispot takes under consideration all of these parameters, and generate Automatic onsite surveys which are engaging, user friendly are come with impressive response rates.