Five tips to increase your survey’s response rate

If you are planning an employee survey in the weeks or months ahead, then a lot of your thinking, time and effort will go into the design of the questionnaire, the reporting and what happens after. Below are five practical tips to make sure the communications to staff about the survey are part of the planning from the beginning and not an afterthought.

1. Plan Advanced Communications

If the email invite to take part in the survey is the first staff have heard about it, you are going to spend most of your time for the next 10 days chasing participation…

Successful employee surveys require good internal comms.

The What and Why of the survey should be communicated long before the survey launches – in management meetings, department meetings, team briefings. Similar to a marketing campaign, the employee survey needs to be promoted – use noticeboards and posters, the company intranet and social media, newsletters and email.

Arrange for an email or other communication to come from the CEO a few days before the first survey invites are sent out, and then, you are ready to launch your survey.

2. Personalise the invitation

Emails are more likely to be opened and read if the message starts with greeting the recipient by name. It adds a level of authority and importance to the message (what impression does ‘Dear Employee’ present?)

Academic studies show emails are more likely to be read when personalised, and email providers (like Hotmail and Gmail) use the absence of a personalised greeting to mirror human behaviour and help them decide whether a message may be spam or unwanted.

3. Include only one Call-To-Action

Keep the message simple! Don’t offer additional links to promote this or that. Ultimately, your goal is to collect feedback so your ‘Call to Action’ (CTA) should be something like click here to take the survey and that link takes the user directly to the survey.

4. Send a reminder

This one action will boost the number of responses received to your survey so far. We nearly always see the responses increase by half as many again, and often the number of responses actually double.

The reminder works best if it is targeted to the non-respondents so exclude those who have already completed the survey. This is because your message can be focused and doesn’t need to explain ‘if you have completed the survey already, thank you’ (again, think one CTA).

5. Use and monitor the Reply-To address

If you send 1,000 emails and receive 150 out-of-office replies (it happens) this will help explain activity and help you adjust your schedule or plans for reminder emails. Similarly, if you receive 50 ‘bounces’ (undeliverable emails because the address is wrong/no longer current) then your response rate is better than you thought but check your records (are these all leavers?) and check with IT why there are so many bad addresses.

In any survey, a few people will email back because they have a question or problem. This feedback may be useful to communicate to other staff (e.g. update the FAQs, opening or reminder message) or in extreme cases highlight an issue with the survey itself.

What worked for you?

Do you have any other tips to share? Post them in the comments below or send me a tweet!

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