Sophia Skinbjerg
Sophia Skinbjerg 30 November 2016

Help! How can I boost survey completion rates?

A quick recap of our recent seminar as well a few nuggets of knowledge we have learned over the years that will help you to boost survey completion rates.

A couple of weeks ago at our breakfast seminar here at Ungapped HQ, we had a special guest come and chat to users about what it is that makes a survey great. Over the course of 45 minutes Mårten Westberg, Head of Research at the European Institute of Behavioral Analysis, gave us a walk-through of the basics to building a good survey.

But since not everyone could be at the seminar, we thought we’d give a quick recap of his advice as well a few nuggets of knowledge we have learned over the years that will help you to boost survey completion rates.


Keep it simple

The best surveys are the ones that are able to concisely ask a question that the reader understands in a couple of milliseconds. But that mantra is something all too easily forgotten. There can be a variety of reasons; sometimes it’s because the survey creator doesn’t have the necessary training, and sometimes it’s because the goal of the survey isn’t clear. But usually the outcome is the same; a survey that’s long, aimless and too complicated for the respondent.

To keep it simple, you need to be able to use language that respondents will understand and question types that allow people to access their memory nice and quickly. Take a look at the two example below. Which is easier to answer?

Question 1



Question 2:


You can see that while the language is the same, the simplicity of answering is greatly affected by the question type.

For more about asking the right questions, see our post “How to seek customer feedback with surveys”.


Keep it short

When people first set out to create a survey, they often want to find out a lot of information across a range of topics. For example, a customer satisfaction survey will usually include questions not just about satisfaction but also about the purchasing process, brand perception, preferred communication channels, customer lifespan etc etc. Now obviously, that’s a really broad range of topics to cover within the one survey.



In order to boost survey completion rates, marketers need to look at how they can make the survey as short as possible whilst also gaining the most valuable data from respondents. Ideally, during the survey creation process, you need to get really specific about what it is you want to achieve from this survey. Is it to learn how easy it was for customers to shop with you? Is it to learn how they want to hear from you? Or is it to learn whether or not they would recommend you to a friend? Whatever it is, keep it to one single goal and create the survey based on that. If you find you have multiple queries, create multiple surveys.

Related: Easy ways to improve your survey design


Make it accessible for everyone

Of the people that you would like to complete the survey, how many of them have color-vision impairments? If you know the exact answer I applaud you. You can be forgiven if you don’t but it’s still not an excuse. If you want to boost survey completion rates then you need to make sure that everyone has the possibility to fill it out in the first place.

Now before you freak out thinking you need to buy some new expensive software or hire a bunch of expensive consultants, take a chill pill – we’ve got you covered. Within the Ungapped survey (and mailing) editor, you can preview what your design looks like according to people with these vision impairments. You can easily create a design for all within minutes.

Normal vision:



Achromatopsia (color-blindness):



What are you offering people for their time?

People are busy. That means if someone takes the time from their day to answer your questions then you need to thank them for it. It’s an element to survey participation that many marketers forget (myself included) but we’ve got to be better at asking ourselves “Why should people fill out this survey in the first place?”.

Now, thanking people doesn’t always have to be monetary – in fact the best surveys I fill out are the ones that don’t offer some kind of monetary kickback. They are the ones that offer me exclusive access to the survey results before everyone else. Or they are the ones that offer me knowledge that makes me better at my job.

If you’ve already published your survey, it might be a bit late to offer people first access to results but you can always incorporate a giveaway of some other form of knowledge.

If you have the budget and resources to give away something monetary then also feel free to try that and see if it can boost survey completion rates. Just make sure it’s legal in your region.


Remind people to complete the survey…multiple times.

Ever heard the saying that you should repeat something until of you’re sick of it…and then keep going? That’s because it takes repetition for people to actually get what you’re saying. So applying this to survey respondents, i’t’s unlikely that all the people you’ve shared it with will see, read, understand and act upon a single survey invitation. So you’ve got to repeat it.

A gentle reminder can be a good thing. via GIPHY


Just a quick side note, I don’t mean spamming people until they get so annoyed they unsubscribe or worse, report you. I mean that by reminding people at regular intervals (that are convenient to them), you will be able to boost survey completion rates.

Of course this is best planned when designing your survey. But if you’ve already published your survey and need to boost completion rates, try scheduling a reminder one or twice a week. You can pair this with different subject lines and pre-headers in order to engage with people who didn’t open any previous reminders.


Share your survey across socials

If you’ve made your survey simpler, shorter and sent multiple reminders yet still have trouble boosting completion rates, then it might be worthwhile sharing the link across social channels. However, this definitely depends on who you want to complete the survey. For example, is it current customers or is it new audiences?

Regardless of your answer, I can highly recommend using the audience target feature to restrict who sees your post. This is because not all your followers are the ideal survey respondents, so why should they all see it? When posting to Facebook, click the target icon in the status box and restrict your audience based on the people you want to reach.

Option 1: Using a preferred audience


Option 2: Using audience restrictions



For example, when we have last minute seats available for our seminars, we limit the post to people in Stockholm. But when we want to know more about our US users’ email habits, we restrict this to US audiences based on their location.


Give us a try and boost survey completion rates

If you’ve liked some of the features we’ve mentioned in this post, why not test us out? It’s free for the first 500 contacts you upload to Ungapped. Create your account here »

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