The response rate on your survey is an important indicator of its success. It’s not enough to put together the right questions and send out your survey, you need to also ensure that you gather enough responses that can help you make the right decision. 

The survey response rate helps you to monitor performance and get the most out of your data collection process. In this article, we’ll show you how to calculate this important data metric and increase your response rate when conducting surveys. 

What is Survey Response Rate? 

Also known as the completion rate or return rate, the survey response rate refers to the total number of persons who have completed your survey divided by the number of persons in the survey sample. It is usually calculated as a percentage, which serves as an important metric for measuring the success of your survey. 

Let’s say you put out a survey to find out the number of persons who make use of a particular product. The total number of responses received during this survey would be used to calculate the survey response rate for the data collection process. 

How to Calculate Survey Response Rate 

Calculating the survey response rate for your data collection process is really easy and does not involve too many processes. All you have to do is divide the total number of responses in your survey by the number of expected responses and multiply this by 100. 

Let’s say your organization conducted a product survey using Formplus to find out how your target market rates a new product feature. For this survey, your sample size was 150 persons while the total number of responses received was 50. 

Here is how to calculate the survey response rate for this data collection process:

Survey Response Rate = (Total number of responses) ÷ (Survey Sample Size) × 100

That is: (50÷200) × 100

The survey response rate is 25% 

When calculating the survey response rate, you should remember that survey dropouts do not count as responses. For instance, if you have 20 survey dropouts, this would not be counted as part of your total number of responses in the survey.


Causes of Low Response Rate in Surveys 

  • Wrong Audience

Administering your survey to the wrong audience can lead to a low survey response rate. This is why it is essential for you to accurately identify your target audience before creating and conducting any type of survey for your organization. 

The wrong target audience consists of individuals or organizations that do not have answers to your survey questions. These groups of people cannot provide objective data for the research process. 

  • Personal Biodata

The best types of surveys allow respondents to provide information anonymously and this is what leads to objective data collection during research. Requesting respondents to provide personal bio-data as part of the survey can lead to survey response bias. 

Many times, respondents are not entirely comfortable with sharing their bio-data when completing a survey. Instead of making this compulsory for them, you can structure your survey in a way that allows respondents to either provide answers anonymously or choose to fill in personal bio-data for research. 

  • Long Questionnaire

Survey length is another important factor that can lead to a low response rate when conducting a survey. Long questionnaires can be discouraging and trigger fatigue which may make a respondent lose interest and abandon your survey. 

To prevent this, we advise you include only the most relevant questions in your survey. If you must ask so many questions during the data collection process, you can use the Formplus multi-page feature to improve the survey’s user experience as respondents fill it out. 

  • Not Interactive

A good survey must be interactive and enjoyable as respondents take part in the data collection process. This means that you must structure your questions in a way that engages your respondents and makes them completely fill out your survey. 

As they fill out your survey, respondents need to be able to interact with the data collection process from the beginning to the end. Apart from having an interactive form builder, Formplus also has unique form customization features that help you to create interactive experiences for survey respondents. 


  • Accessibility

Let’s paint a scenario; imagine you’re completing a survey or questionnaire and suddenly, you lose internet connectivity. You’d most likely put a hold on the survey process and get to some other activities. When the internet connection is eventually restored, you may not be interested in completing the survey anymore. This is what happens to a lot of survey respondents. 

To avoid this, it’s a good plan to create and administer your survey with Formplus. For instance, Formplus has an offline form feature that allows survey respondents to complete their forms with poor or no internet connection. This helps you to reduce survey dropouts due to poor internet connection and improve your survey response rate.

  • No Incentive

Sometimes, you need to spur respondents to action by offering one or more incentives they’ll get after filling out your survey. If respondents have nothing to gain, they may abandon your survey in the middle of the way and this can cause low survey response rates. 

Ensure that you emphasize the value or incentives respondents will get from filling out your survey. In other words, don’t just show what’s in it for you; also emphasize what’s in it for them. For instance, you can ask respondents to complete your survey and in turn, give them a free ebook or coupon. 

  • Wrong Timing

Timing is an important factor in data collection and wrong timing can affect the survey response rate. Before sending out a survey, ensure that you know the best time to gather information from respondents. We advise that you gather data when it matters the most. 

As a company that just launched a new product, conducting a product evaluation survey immediately may be too soon because the market is still trying to get acquainted with the development. However, after 3-6 months, you can conduct a survey and gather objective feedback from respondents. 

  • Questionnaire Bias

Survey bias skews the survey towards premeditated responses and can result in a low survey response rate. Questionnaire bias can be stifling and therefore, discourages respondents from filling out the survey till the end. 

If your survey contains many leading and loaded questions, survey respondents will be unable to objectively provide feedback as requested. Trying to put survey respondents into a box only ends up putting your survey response rate in an unfavorable box too.

What is the Average Survey Response Rate in 2020?

The average survey response rate for 2020 is 33%. Going further, we can explain this data by considering different types of survey methods and how these impact survey response rates in data collection. 

For example, physical or in-person surveys have a response rate of nearly 57% while mail surveys have a response rate of up to 13%. Email surveys have a response rate of about 30% which is often affected by email open rates. 

Mobile surveys have a 3% to 5% survey response rate. Surveys with Net Promoter Score questions like customer satisfaction surveys have a response rate of nearly 95% because the respondent finds it easy to associate with the brand. 

How to Increase response rate in Surveys 

Here are a few tips to help you improve the response rate in your next survey.

  • Choose the Right Format

As you put everything in place for your survey, be sure to decide on the right survey format. Is it better to send out paper forms to respondents or conduct interviews?  

The right survey format is convenient and allows respondents to swiftly provide answers to your questionnaire with little or no hassles. Conducting your survey online would help you gather data easily and make it easy for respondents to complete your survey. 

  • Shareability

To improve your survey response rate, you also have to improve the reach of your survey. Instead of limiting your survey to respondents in a particular location, you can share across different platforms to increase your survey sample size and gather responses from more persons. 

This is another reason to use online forms like Formplus over paper surveys. Formplus has multiple form sharing options that make it easy for you to administer your survey and collate data from a large survey sample size. You can use the social media sharing buttons to share your survey with your online community or send out email invitations to respondents. 

  • Targeted Audience

Your survey sample size should consist of individuals and/or organizations that have knowledge that is relevant to your survey. This means that you must have a targeted audience for your survey to avoid putting square pegs in round holes. 

For instance, if you are conducting a survey to find out what people think about a new product feature, you should target customers who must have used or come across the product in question. When respondents have no idea about the information being requested in your survey, they may abandon it or provide vague responses. 

  • No intrusive personal biodata

Avoid requesting for intrusive personal information in your surveys as this can lead to low survey response rates. The trick is to avoid asking for information that is not directly relevant to the data collection process – for example, there is no need to ask respondents to fill in their house address in a product survey. 

  • Short but concise questionnaire

Long questionnaires can be discouraging and cause respondents to abandon your survey along the way. To prevent this, it is important for you to keep your survey short, simple, and easy to understand. 

There is no need to populate your survey with jargon; especially when it is meant for a generic audience. You should only include questions that are extremely relevant to the data collection process and break your survey into multiple pages to improve the user experience for respondents. 

  • No Questionnaire Bias

Avoid negative, loaded, and leading questions that reinforce survey response bias. Instead, use closed-ended and open-ended questions that prompt respondents to freely provide objective answers to your questionnaire. This also improves your data collection process as you would have valid data sets to work with. 

  • Use incentives to encourage respondents to complete your survey. 

Best Types of Questions to Improve Survey Response Rate 

Likert Scale Questions

A Likert scale question is a type of close-ended question that allows respondents to rate responses using a 3-point, 5-point, or 7-point Likert scale. It is a type of question that allows survey respondents to indicate the extent to which they agree or disagree with different statements or assertions. 

Likert scale is basically a scale used to represent people’s opinions and attitudes to a topic or subject matter.  It can be unipolar or bipolar in nature and it always includes a mid-point that caters to neutral answers in a survey. 

Likert scale questions work well for surveys because they are easy to understand and allow respondents to freely communicate their perception about different assertions without any induced biases. 

Example of Likert Scale Questions

  • How satisfied are you with our service delivery?
  1. Very Satisfied
  2. Somewhat Satisfied
  3. Neutral
  4. Dissatisfied
  5. Very dissatisfied
  • Our customer experience is excellent.
  1. Strongly agree
  2. Agree
  3. Neutral
  4. Disagree
  5. Strongly Disagree


Close-ended Questions

This is a type of question that restricts respondents to a set of premeditated answers; that is, a set of predetermined responses. It is ideal for surveys because it helps you gather quantitative data from the target audience. 

The most common type of close-ended questions is the dichotomous question that has true/false options or yes/no options so that respondents choose either of the available options. Close-ended questions can also include multiple-choice questions, rating scale questions, and ranking scale questions. 

Close-ended questions are good for surveys because they are easy to understand and straight to the point. 

Examples of Close-ended Questions

  • Have you used this product before?
  1. Yes
  2. No
  • How often do you use this product?
  1. Very often
  2. Somewhat Often
  3. Rarely


Rating Scale Questions

A rating scale question is a type of close-ended survey   question where respondents choose numbers to represent their answers. It is also known as an ordinal scale question and usually includes a rating scale from any range such as 0-10, 1-10, or 1-100. 

With a rating scale, the researcher can easily quantify respondents’ knowledge and opinion in terms of specified values which can be numerical or otherwise. This type of question is ideal when you want to gather comparative information about a specific research context. 

Examples of Rating Scale Questions

  • How likely are you to recommend our product or service? (1 = Very Unlikely; 5 = Very Likely)
  • How easy or difficult did you find this test? (1 = Very Difficult; 7 = Very Easy)
  • rating-question
  • Ranking Scale Question

A ranking scale question that requires respondents to arrange a set of items in the scale of preference. It is ideal in market research where the researcher wants to understand what the market prioritizes or to uncover customer preferences. 


When your survey has a good completion rate, it lends credibility to your overall data collection process and this results in valid research findings. However, hitting a good survey response rate is not a walk in the park as there are several things that must be in place in order for you to achieve this. 

In this article, we’ve shown you how to calculate your survey response rate and also shared tips to help you improve completion rates whenever you conduct any type of survey. With Formplus forms, you can be sure to get the most out of your data collection process without any hassles. 

  • busayo.longe
  • on 11 min read


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