Survey Benchmarks: What’s a good survey response rate?

Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik
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Survey Benchmarks: What’s a good survey response rate?

As you send out your customer satisfaction surveys, you’re likely wondering how many responses you should get back.

What’s the average response rate, and how can you improve yours?

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the average survey response rates and tips to help you design survey questions as well as get more valuable responses back. 

What is a good sample size for a survey?

Sample size refers to a portion of your entire customer base that’ll receive the survey you’re working on. 

You’ll choose a random sample of people to represent your audience as a whole. The right sample size will give you the most accurate look into how your guests are feeling about your attraction. Yet determining how big or small your sample size should be is tricky.

If your sample group is too small, you run the risk of receiving skewed results that don’t fairly represent the rest of your guests. And if the sample is too big, the survey can become too time-consuming or expensive to run successfully.

To help you find the right sample size for your survey, consider the following:

  • Population size: How large is the target audience for this particular survey?
  • Margin of error: This reflects how accurate your survey results will be. Let’s say 30% of the respondents say they’re “very satisfied” with your service, and your margin of error is 5%. This would mean that if you surveyed all of your guests, you can be sure that between 25% and 35% of them would feel the same way.
  • Confidence level: Here you’ll define how confident you want to be in your margin of error. Most surveys are in the 90% to 99% confidence range.

You can then plug these numbers into a sample size calculator to get an idea of how many responses you’ll need for a successful survey campaign.

How do you calculate survey response rate?

A customer satisfaction survey is only as successful as the feedback it receives in return. Your survey response rate will tell you how many guests took the time to complete your survey compared to those who viewed or started it. 

Your survey response rate will tell you how well your survey is performing, which is why it’s an important metric to keep track of.

You can find it by dividing the number of completed survey responses by the number of guests who received it, then multiplying by 100 to get a percentage. 

For example, if you sent a survey to 200 people and 175 of them completed, your survey response rate could be calculated like this: 175/200 = .875 x 100 = 87.5%.

What is a good response rate for a customer satisfaction survey?

While an 87% survey response rate would be considered a fantastic turnout, it can be difficult to reach such high numbers. In fact, the average survey response rate is just 33%.

Here’s a look at how response rates differ by survey type, according to SurveyAnyplace:

  • In-person survey: 57%
  • Mail survey: 50%
  • Email survey: 30%
  • Online survey: 29%
  • Phone survey: 18%
  • In-app survey: 13%

The company also found that survey response rates are directly correlated to survey length or duration. 

Specifically, there was a 17% drop in response rate noted for surveys with more than 12 questions or that take longer than five minutes to complete.

Should you use incentives or giveaways to increase response rates?

It’s understandable why you would want to offer your guests an incentive to encourage them to complete your survey — especially since studies show that it can increase the likelihood of them responding by 30%.

Survey incentives can be a good idea if used in the right context. If you’re trying to survey a group that’s typically hard to reach, for instance, you may use an incentive to catch their attention. Similarly, survey giveaways can be used to appeal to non-responders, especially when your response rate is too low.

If your survey is long and complex, attaching a reward to it will also make it easier for guests to complete it.

That being said, attractions should exercise caution when it comes to using survey incentives. One reason is that the type of reward you offer can attract the wrong respondents, which would lead to a biased survey sample.

Survey incentives can also attract biased responses since guests who are simply filling out the survey for the reward might not be completely honest in their responses. This would defeat the purpose of a customer satisfaction survey.

5 actionable tips for increasing your survey response rate

If you’re looking for completely unbiased survey results, it’s best to stay away from incentives. Here are some other tactics you can use to bump up your response rate. 

1. Explain your survey purpose

Understanding the purpose behind a survey can significantly increase response rates. Take, for instance, a river rafting company looking to enhance its customer experience. The company could send out a survey with a detailed introduction explaining the survey’s objectives. For example: “At [Company Name], we’re dedicated to providing exhilarating and safe rafting adventures. We’re currently focusing on improving our eco-friendly practices and would love your input on our new biodegradable rafting gear. Your feedback is not just valuable; it’s essential in shaping our environmental initiatives and ensuring the best possible experience on the river.”

In the following paragraph, the company could further emphasize the impact of the feedback: “Your insights will help us understand what’s working and what needs improvement. For instance, last season’s feedback led to the introduction of our now-popular sunset rafting tours. By sharing your thoughts, you’re directly contributing to the evolution of our services and our commitment to the environment.”

2. Keep your survey concise

Remember that there’s a correlation between survey completion rates and the survey length or duration.  

Surveys with more than 15 questions can scare your guests away. They might even start working on the survey but then leave once they see an overwhelming amount of questions to answer. The amount of time it takes them to complete the survey will also impact their competition rate. Multiple choice questions, for instance, require a lot less effort than open-ended questions.

A historical city tour operator, for example, could create a concise yet comprehensive survey. The survey could start with a brief introduction: “We value your time and have designed a quick, 10-question survey to gather your thoughts on our historical city tour. Each question is carefully crafted to understand your experience better, from the knowledge of our guides to the selection of our tour stops.”

The operator could then reassure respondents about the survey’s brevity: “We know your time is precious, so we’ve ensured that the survey can be completed in just a few minutes. Your feedback is instrumental in enhancing the quality of our tours and ensuring that each journey through our city’s history is as engaging and informative as possible.”

3. Don’t mention the word survey

Did you know that avoiding the word, “survey” can increase your survey response rate by 10%?

An amusement park, for instance, could frame its feedback request in a more casual and inviting manner. The email could start with: “Had a blast at FunWorld? We’re eager to hear about your adventures! Could you share a few moments to tell us about your day? Your stories and suggestions are what help us make FunWorld the happiest place on Earth.”

The park could then gently guide the guests into the feedback process: “Instead of a traditional survey, we’ve set up a quick, fun feedback session. It’s a chance for you to let us know what thrilled you the most and what we can do to make your next visit even more magical.”

4. Limit the number of surveys you send 

Balancing the frequency of surveys is crucial to avoid overwhelming guests.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to base your survey frequency on how often guests interact with you, then multiply that by two. If your guest interacts with you monthly, you could send them a survey every two months, for example.

A zoo that sees regular monthly visitors could adopt a bi-monthly survey strategy. The zoo could explain this approach in its communications: “As a valued member of our zoo family, your ongoing feedback is vital. To respect your time and avoid overburdening you with requests, we’ve decided to reach out for your thoughts every two months. This schedule allows us to gather timely feedback while ensuring each visit you make is fresh and memorable.”

The zoo could further elaborate on the importance of this feedback: “Your insights help us improve animal habitats, enhance visitor facilities, and develop educational programs. By sharing your experiences, you’re playing a direct role in the welfare of our animals and the enrichment of our community.”

5. Write an engaging survey introduction

An engaging introduction can significantly increase the likelihood of survey completion. A mountain resort, for example, could start its survey with a captivating narrative: “Welcome to the Alpine Heights Experience Feedback Forum. As a cherished guest, your insights are the compass that guides our journey towards excellence. Did you know that your suggestions have a real impact? Last year, we introduced guided nature walks based on feedback just like yours.”

The resort could then build on this narrative: “Today, we’re reaching out to gather your valuable thoughts on our new eco-lodges and the recently expanded hiking trails. Your feedback not only helps us enhance your next visit but also shapes the future of sustainable tourism at Alpine Heights. Let’s continue this journey together, shaping an unforgettable mountain experience for you and future guests.”

***

In conclusion, your survey response rate determines how well your feedback campaign is performing. The point of sending customer satisfaction surveys is to receive valuable unbiased feedback that helps your business identify its priorities.

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Writer Jessica Malnik

Jessica Malnik

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